We’ve all got to the point (for some of us it’s pretty frequent!) where we throw up our hands and say, “I don’t have enough time.”
Normally this is followed by listing the large number of tasks that you still have to do on your to-do list (assuming you have one).
As a salesperson or a business owner, there is a never-ending amount of things you need to (or could) be doing. There are always potential leads to approach, prospects to follow up and customers to check in with. Not to mention admin tasks and anything else that is part of your job description.
And that’s just at work. Outside of work, there’s a myriad of other things to do.
I’m one of these people that loves life and wants to make the most of the time I have.
Throughout my career, I’ve balanced running multiple businesses, charity work, speaking engagements, and doing an MBA while still having time for my family and myself.
I’m frequently asked how I have so much energy and fit it all in.
The starting point is that I absolutely love what I do and I’m passionate about passing on the knowledge I’ve learnt from the ups and downs of my business career.
However, passion will only get you so far. You also need action and the time to do everything you want to do.
Here are two key things I do to make the most of my time.
Take a look at your massive to-do list. How do you know what you should do first?
Put another way, which tasks do you end up doing first? And which tasks do you avoid doing, so they sit on your to-do list days, weeks, or even months?
Unless we put a different structure in place, we’ll normally gravitate to doing the tasks we enjoy and are easy, first.
This isn’t an effective way to work. Instead, I recommend prioritising all the tasks on your to-do list.
Then start with the top priority and go from there.
Which is great – but how should you prioritise your tasks?
Eisenhower’s Principle is an excellent way to sort your tasks into four categories of priority.
Firstly, all tasks can be labelled as important or not important and urgent or not urgent.
Important Tasks: these tasks are important because they cause us to achieve the outcomes or goals that we are striving for.
Urgent Tasks: these tasks are urgent and need to be dealt with fairly quickly. There are consequences for not doing so and these tasks normally relate to what someone else is trying to achieve.
This creates four categories listed in order of priority:
Important and Urgent
Important and urgent tasks are the highest priority. They should be at the top of your to-do list and be the first things you deal with.
Urgent proposals, deadlines, and dealing with an issue for a top client can all fall into this category.
Make sure tasks are only in this category because they were unforeseen and not because you left them to the last minute!
Important but Not Urgent
It is easy to forget about these tasks because they are not urgent. However, they are tasks that will help you achieve your goals, such as your sales targets.
Make sure you schedule them in and give yourself enough time to get them done. If you don’t, they are likely to end up in the first category!
Not Important but Urgent
It is so easy to get stuck doing not important but urgent tasks. These are the tasks that stop you from making progress and achieving what you want.
Most of these tasks come from others and, if not handled properly, can be a big distraction.
Helping other people or solving their problems is great but you are still expected to hit your sales numbers and do your work.
Make sure you can get your important tasks done and schedule in time to deal with the not important but urgent tasks. If you can, it’s even better to delegate them to someone else.
Not Important and Not Urgent
Not important and not urgent tasks are a distraction. If they’ve been generated by you, don’t do them. They aren’t helping you achieve your goals and there aren’t any consequences for not doing them.
If they come from other people, just say “no” and give a valid reason.
Now that you have a prioritised to-do list, the next step is to schedule these tasks in.
Just leaving them on your to-do list and progressing through them isn’t going to work.
Tasks that fall into the first three categories will have a time component to them. Both how long they will take and when the task must be completed by.
Also, a particular task may be dependent on another task being completed. For example, you must follow the steps or tasks in your sales process in order.
There are three things to do when you schedule your tasks.
Put It in Your Calendar
Taking into account the task’s priority, how it relates to other tasks, and when it needs to be done by, schedule it in your calendar.
This simple act of scheduling tasks is one of the most powerful ways to get things done and make the most of your time.
Set the Length of Time
Always block out the time it will take to complete the task. Don’t just say, “I’ll work on the proposal for company ABC at 2pm.”
Allotting a specific amount of time will focus you to get the task done quickly and efficiently and allow you to get more tasks done.
Also, don’t forget about Parkinson’s Law, which states the task will expand to fit the time available.
So, if a task should only take 30 minutes don’t allow an hour – because, otherwise, it will end up taking that long!
And, not setting the length of time for the task will mean it will take between now and its deadline to complete!
Do It When It’s Scheduled
It can be tempting when you see a calendar reminder pop up for a task to reschedule it because you don’t feel like doing it.
This can be just as bad as not scheduling (or prioritising) it at all.
Unless there is a very good reason why you need to shift when you do a scheduled task, like an unforeseen important and urgent task has come up, do the task when you said you would do it.
Rescheduling tasks for the wrong reasons is an inefficient use of time and is not a good habit to develop!
Overall, if you prioritise and then schedule your tasks, you’ll be able to achieve more and, most importantly, reach your goals more easily.
Sales is all about action, the more actions you can take because you’re managing your time effectively, the more successful you’ll be.
We have a number of events and programmes specifically designed to help salespeople and business perform. Get in touch to find out more.
Sharn Piper – Partner
Hi, I’m Sharn, and I love nothing more than getting that ecstatic phone call from a client who has just smashed their sales targets after a session with Attain.
Over the course of my career, I’ve led numerous sales teams, built multiple successful businesses and learned how to craft a sales process that is robust, repeatable and produces consistent results.
I love a challenge and have acquired a reputation for being quick to get to the core of the issue and find out-of-the-box solutions to unleash better sales. These skills have proven useful time and time again as I’m approached to boost the results of high-performing teams wanting to take business to a whole new level.
If you would like help with your sales, get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org