A few years back, I decided to try what I felt was a time management 101 fire drill. Just for clarification purposes, we generally label something as “101” when we know something so well that we have never tried it, have no intention of trying it, but want the rest of the world to know our awareness of the “101ness”.
Speaking of “101ness”, how many times have you heard that you should keep a time log for a week or two so you can see how you spend your time and identify opportunities to improve your time management? I did this diligently for two weeks and made some interesting new distinctions.
My day was being stolen from me in 3, 5 and 10 minute increments. I would never allow 15, 20, 30 minutes of wasted time because it would show up as a huge blip on my radar screen. The 3, 5 and 10 minute time wasters snuck through my radar like a stealth bomber!
I found that the bulk of my day was spent in a reactive rather than proactive mode which is an absolutely horrible place for a professional looking to put a ding in the universe!
Let’s all have a quick “Dr. Phil” moment, shall we.
At the core of our being as sales professionals is a simple philosophy called control. We went into sales because we like to have that control. Just so we are attacking this from the same perspective, when I say control, I don’t mean that we are control freaks or that we like to manipulate or advance in this world at the expense of others. I mean that we like to be in control of the situation, be in control of the day, week, quarter and let’s not forget our destiny!
When our day is being taken from us, and we are in a constant state of reactive engagement, we are simply not at our best. Psychologically, we have lost that control and our internal wiring starts sending us error messages of aggravation, frustration etc. And we all know how much we sell when we generally feel like crap!
So what the heck do we do about it?
Ask yourself the million dollar question . . . “Is what I’m doing, right now, the best use of my time?” I call this the “million dollar” question, because I truly believe it will be worth a million dollars to me over the course of my career! It’s real simple to use too! If I find myself answering “No, this is a lousy use of my time!” I do my best to adjust. This has worked wonders for me in situations that I found myself talking too much about the problem rather than the solution, attending “pity parties” with coworkers, doing research during my money hours etc. It also helps you to feel like a dumb ass if you ask it when you are watching coffee brew!
Ask yourself the other million dollar question . . . “Is what I’m doing, right now, moving me closer to my goals?” This is such an important question to ask. Zig Ziglar once said that in life we can’t be a “wandering generality” and that we must become a “meaningful specific”. Asking this question will keep you aligned with your bigger picture.
The weekly “jump off the treadmill meeting” I call it this for a reason and its simply because we’re entrenched so deeply in responding and reacting, that at times it feels like we may be running on a treadmill and getting nowhere fast! The weekly jump off the treadmill meeting is a meeting you have with yourself at a time when there are no phones ringing, co workers interrupting or the tractor beam of your blackberry rendering you helpless. For me, this has always been early Sunday mornings with a piping hot cup of coffee (pronounced Kawfee in my neck of the woods). I start by taking a suspicious look at my upcoming appointments. I say suspicious because I look at the appointments as if I’m missing something. As if there is something there or a code I haven’t cracked. I look at where I will be and who else I can see. Yes, that is “101” too, but during the week, when the bullets are flying, it’s possible I might be guilty of not thinking. I step back and look at myself. Where do I need to improve? I take some time to improve my areas of weakness. What else can I research about my industry, my clients industries, the business community in general? How can I add value to my relationships? Where can I play matchmaker in my network?
According to Brian Tracy “Every minute you spend in planning saves 10 minutes in execution; this gives you a 1,000 percent return on energy!”
Today's Reflection (written in a lovely green to remind you that time is money!) Be aware of the small increments in time that go under your radar screen. Take the time to step off your treadmill to think, plan and regain the control of your destiny.
Freebie: I have a two week time log for you in PDF form that I would be happy to email to you. Feel free to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org and you will be the proud owner of this valuable tool!
Try applying these simple tools and dare I say, try some of the things you may have dismissed as “101”. You never know until you try!
PS Take a lesson from that monkey and always remember that its proper etiquette to hold your gun sideways when you liberate your day!