Currently I am gearing up for another of Eagle’s semi-annual training sessions for our sales staff and recruiters. Typically they are quite intense sessions with lots of work and plenty of play too!
I am very focused on updating Eagle’s training materials for our sales people … and thought that today I should be able to find something in there that is useful stuff for anyone. This section from our training manual contains some very general time management tips … primarily focused on salespeople, but relevant to us all!
This is a tried and proven technique that applies to our personal life just as much as our business life. As the adage goes … if you don’t have a goal how do you know when you reach it? Goals can be big and small, interim goals or end goals, they can be very personal or very public. A noted efficiency expert suggests starting by developing 5 relatively simple goals and working every day to take another step towards those goals.
“TO DO” Lists
A MUST DO for anyone who wants to take charge of their life. To do lists are a living thing that you are constantly updating as you think of additional tasks, or as you complete tasks. By having an up to date list, that is prioritised in some manner you can quickly and effectively run through the list of tasks, without having to think about it. If there is one time management principle that you are going to start with … this would be it!
There are many tools to help you to be more effective. We all have access to electronic Task lists, Calendars, Contact Management software and PDAs. Effective use of these tools will increase productivity.
The premise here is that if the only item on your desk is the thing you are working on then you are less likely to be distracted.
The story here is about a jar, some big rocks, some small rocks and some sand. If you put the sand in the jar first, followed by the small rocks then its unlikely you will get many big rocks in there. If the put the big rocks first, followed by the small rocks the sand will work its way around the rocks and you will get everything in the jar. The jar represents your time (a typical workday or work week), the big rocks are important items like client meetings, interviews etc., the small rocks might be internal meetings etc., the sand represents the many, many things that consume us all on a daily basis. If we set up our key meetings first, and plan all of our other “planned activities/conference calls/meetings” etc into our calendars then we will find time to work on orders, close business, sign people up etc around these “big items”. If you just go about the daily chores it will be hard to fit in the meetings!
Interruptions – the phone
Interruptions change our thought patterns, distract us from our tasks and generally make us less productive. If you are working on an important activity put your phone on call forward, or find some other way to not answer it! Answering 5 voicemails in a row is far better use of time than having 5 interruptions while working on something important. Obviously this is tough when expecting calls from candidates/clients but prudent use of call display can help.
Interruptions – email
Many of us are “driven” by our email. We wait to receive an email and respond instantly! It is far more productive to set aside specific time to work on emails (between larger tasks, or set times … whatever works for you).
Interruptions – people
We are all guilty of interrupting our colleagues, and accepting interruptions from our colleagues. We need to be aware of the affect this has on productivity and try to limit the activity, and try to tactfully let people know that you are busy and an interruption is not wanted.
Perhaps one of the harder components of time management, but a key skill to develop. What is a priority item, and what can wait till later? What has an impact on our profitability? What has an impact on our client or candidate, and do we need to address it now or can it wait? There are many factors that go into priorities and time and experience will help.
Finish Your Task
This goes hand in hand with the interruptions above, however sometimes we interrupt ourselves by going on to a new task before we have completed the one we are working on. It is far more efficient to keep the train of thought and complete a task before moving to the next thing.
Personal Bank Accounts
We establish an emotional bank account with everyone we interact with. The goal should be to have that bank account “in the black”. Be nice to your coworkers, compliment them, buy them a coffee whatever. A pleasant work environment is way more productive than a tense one!
You have to have fun or this all becomes too serious. Play hacky sack, shoot your colleagues with nerf guns (as long as you are not interrupting them), buy yourself a Second Cup special coffee … all as reward for meeting goals, completing tasks etc.