You believe you’re on the right track. You have defined your career goals, and you’ve even set up a daily priority plan. Now effective time management should kick in and simply take care of itself, right?
Not so fast! As you become more productive, you may find that you’ll be forced to make choices. Some of these choices, if made properly, will lead you to even greater heights, or if made poorly will lead you to career disappointment.
Let’s use Ted as an example. Ted is a composite character made up of thousands of salespeople from around the country. Let’s look at Ted’s career: Ted has recently made some big changes in his career. These changes have expanded his prospecting skills and his presentation skills – so now several things are happening to him that have never happened before.
First he’s got too many customers, so he feels pulled into many directions at once.
Second, he can feel himself slipping on service with his customers. He’s not returning phone calls promptly, not following up, and basically dropping the ball.
Third, he’s beginning to spend more time away from home, his children are beginning to become distant, and his spouse is becoming resentful of the business!
Sound familiar? Are these challenges you’ve faced? Unfortunately, when faced with these dilemmas, many salespeople resort to something we have all done at some point in our careers. They take steps to sabotage their own success.
Consider this quote from Dr. Joyce Brothers – “We cannot consistently perform at a level inconsistent with our own self image.” Is this true of you? Many salespeople view their new found success with suspicion. Why? Because they have rarely experienced it and may have a difficult time adjusting to a new self image.
So instead of embracing success many salespeople will reverse course and begin to swim back to their old lives. How do they do this? Most salespeople don’t wake up one morning and say “Well, today I’m going to start failing!” Instead most salespeople just begin making bad decisions. These poor decisions can lead to a bad case of self sabotage and a career crash.
So you may ask yourself how can I succeed in my business but also not feel overwhelmed? How can I continue giving great service to my customers? And most importantly how can I stop working 80 hour weeks and still be productive?
Let’s look at these ways to Stay on track with your goals:
When studying your daily to do list (you have one right) you may find that you just have way too many items on the list to possibly accomplish. So what can you do? Apply the simple but effective RDT method.
Relegate – First decide which of the items on the list must be done to accomplish your long term goals. These of course, are your priorities. You must relegate yourself to the fact that these items must be done and most importantly done first.
Delegate – Next when reviewing your to do list ask yourself is there anyone that could be doing these items instead of me? Can you outsource it, hire it done, or could some else be doing this work? Wise salespeople attempt to delegate as much as possible.
If there is a large project you need assistance with, ActiV Business Development Services can help you with a variety of tasks related to business and blogging.
Terminate – What is on your to do list that does not have to be done? Are there items that are nothing more than busy work? If you can’t terminate them, at least, put them on the very bottom of the list.
2. Choosing your customers or clients
As your career begins to pick up steam you may find that you cannot simply work with every customer. You may need to begin choosing your customers. How? Qualify them harder.
This may seem harsh at first, after all you want to work with everyone, but in the end you will be unable to work with everyone.
This is one of the toughest aspects of time management: Knowing which priority takes priority. All customers are good, but the fact is some are better than others.
Here is a quick way to qualify your customers:
Motivation Level – Do they really want to buy?
Timing – Are they ready to act now! Or are they stalling?
Ability – Can they close the deal?
3. Deal with Paper Once
How many times do you move one piece of paper around on your desk? Come on, it’s more than just once! We all know we should do something about the piece of paper, but we decide that for now, it will look good in a new corner until next week (or the week after). So we keep shuffling, and shuffling, and shuffling. Sometimes one piece of paper becomes two pieces of paper or more.
I still do this and have hundreds of papers that I’m still organizing around my desk from research and ideas to come back too.
So what can we do about it? Use the one touch rule. Only touch paper once before you do something with it. There are three uses for every piece of paper you have on your desk – Here they are:
File It – Put it where it needs to go – Which is off your desk!
Toss it – don’t hoard unimportant papers or things (I find this one to be a bit difficult because I do tend to hoard some things).
Deal With it – If it requires your attention do something with it!
Now when it comes to item number three let me give you a tip: Deal with paper once a day! Set aside just one time during the day to deal with paper, deal with it and move on!
4. Automate Yourself
How long does it take to make ten phone calls? Believe me it takes some time. You have to look up the phone number, dial it, wait for it to ring, and then you have to talk to someone on the other end.
What makes it time consuming is that you if you beat around the bush awhile until you get to the topic you really called about.
So what is the solution? Force yourself to focus on the reason for your call, and in a polite, tactful way, cut to the chase. Your contact at the other end will appreciate you not wasting their time as well.
Email is another simple solution. How long does it take to email those same ten people? Not long, especially if your message is the same to each one.
Superstars learn to condition their customers to the fact that they will be communicating with them primarily by email, with a few sporadic calls mixed in. The truth is most of them will be relieved. Why? Because they don’t have the time to talk to you either!
Another way to automate is automating some emails, like an email that let’s the other person know you received an email and will get back to them in 24 hours or less. Or Messenger bots, they can click on your messenger bot where you have sequences that to your FAQ page or scheduler.
5. Time Log
Can you remember what you did five days ago? Hey, I can’t remember what I did five hours ago! But when you are trying to improve your time management skills you must have the ability to measure your actions against your results. Within the investment world we call this the ROI or return on investment.
What is your return on investment for your time? The only way to measure this key aspect of your business, is to take periodic stock of your business. Do this with a time log. A time log is a simple notebook, in which you record all of your business activities for a week and then compare your success with your actions.
If you find that your actions did not equal success then it may be time to reevaluate your time investments.
Another tool that you can use is Toggl, a free tool by the way, and one of my favorites.
I hope you found this post useful. It’s difficult to keep track of everything and keep everything organized when working towards your goals. What tools are resources do you use? And don’t forget to celebrate your accomplishments!