As is so often said, you can never “manage” time you can only make best use of your time. If you use your time effectively you can be excellent at almost any profession … it is essential if you want to be a good salesperson.
The following are very practical tips that anyone can follow, and will help somewhat. The key to better time management is to never stop looking for better ways to be efficient.
1. TO DO LISTS. Probably the number one tool for time management. Write down everything that you need to do in one place!
2. PRIORITIZE! Once you have your list you need a system to identify what are the most important tasks, so that you can rank them in some order of priority. There are many different systems … A,B,C to denote levels of priority; Steven Covey’s First Things First matrix; Client/Internal/Personal might be another system.
3. USE A PLANNER. Whatever system works for you … electronic or paper, but it needs to be in one place.
4. BLOCK OFF TIME. Make appointments with yourself to complete tasks and treat it the same as an appointment with a client (no interruptions etc.) For example you might set aside 9am for one hour to make phone calls to clients; from 11am till 12noon to read a report etc.
5. HAVE A CLEAN WORK AREA! This does not mean you can’t have piles next to your desk, although it is not recommended! The idea is that the thing you are working on at this moment should be the only thing on your desk … so nothing else distracts you.
6. DEAL WITH THINGS ONCE. Don’t review something and then decide to deal with it later. If you are not prepared to deal with an item then don’t touch it, but once you do touch something deal with it. Some people say never touch the same piece of paper twice!
7. MEETINGS. Prepare, have an agenda, make them count!
8. INTERRUPTIONS. Do not interrupt other people, plan time to meet about specific topics. If people interrupt you use tactics to get them out of your office … stand up, leave your office, tell them you have an urgent call to make, ask them if you can talk at a later time that works for you.
9. SET GOALS. If you have goals to work towards then you can develop a plan to get there. These can be personal goals or professional goals. They should be written down, measurable and achievable.
10. PROCRASTINATION. Do not put things off that you need to do. Add them to your TO DO List, Prioritize them and “Just Do IT”!
There are a ton of articles about time management, and lots of resources to give you ideas for improving your effectiveness. David Allen is one of my favorite gurus in this area. I am, as always, a fan of Steven Covey’s time management principles.
Work at this every day and see how it can affect your whole life!