A quarter of the way through the year, Tara Bradbury reminds us of the time management skills we all need if we’re going to meet our targets.
WE HAVE now come to the end of our Innovate 2015 Tour and one of interesting comments I heard along the way is ’I was so busy in January and the start of February, and for some reason it has become really quiet. We don’t seem to have the same amount of leads coming in.’
While it is very important to continue to prospect during the busy times and make sure you have a strong pipeline of hot contacts each month, you must also make sure you are aware of how you spend your time each day and that every minute is devoted to income-producing activities.
I hear so many BDMs say ‘I wish I just had more time,’ and ‘If only I just had an extra couple of hours in my day I would achieve so much more’. But, as we all know, we are unable to change time – and if we could, would it really solve our problems?
The funny thing about the phrase ‘time management’ is that you can’t really manage time. What you can do is manage yourself and the activities you carry out on a daily basis. No matter how organised you are, there are only ever going to be 24 hours in a day. This is why it is so important to have an Ideal Week in place to make sure you are 100 per cent accountable for where you spend your time.
Many of us seem to have an addiction to being time wasters and tend to catch the vicious procrastination virus during our daily routines. Do you find yourself spending time on activities that are meaningless to the outcome you are hoping to achieve at the end of the day? Have you ever considered keeping a daily track record of the activities you are performing?
If you are searching for ways to improve your time management skills, here are seven steps that will help.
- CREATE A NEW HABIT
Like many bad habits, poor time management is a behaviour that BDMs develop over time. The first step to ‘kicking the habit’ is to recognise that you have a problem and then to make a firm commitment to do something about it. BDMs, you must invest in yourself. It takes 21 days to create a new habit and after 21 days your new routine will be like second nature.
- CREATING AN IDEAL DAY/WEEK
Similar to other disciplines, effective time management is a discipline that can be learned and mastered over time. The key principle to effective time management is planning. The first step is to plan each day in advance. Use any form of online calendar; find the tool that works best for you. Towards the end of the day you should carefully take the time to plan out your activities for the next day. Ask yourself: ‘What is the most important use of my time?’ and ‘What are the income-producing activities I should focus on?’
- HIGHLIGHT PRIORITY TASKS
Prioritise the key tasks that must be accomplished (based on the answers to the two questions above). Once you have your list of tasks for the day, then prioritise them highest to lowest.Planning your day the afternoon before has other strong benefits. You will find it easier to sleep at night, as your conscious mind can rest. This is because you’ve written down your set plan and don’t have to worry about remembering every task.
- IMPLEMENT BLOCK-OUT SESSIONS
BDMs, think about the appointments in your day that seem to be moved because they may be too hard or you just don’t feel like you have the time. A few that come to mind are cold calling and prospecting. It is very easy to just think ‘I’ll get to that later’ if you don’t have the task blocked out in your calendar. It doesn’t matter how many leads you have coming in, you should always have prospecting time blocked out every day.
- EAT YOUR LIVE FROG FOR BREAKFAST
Morning is usually the best time to tackle your most difficult and highest-priority tasks. As the day progresses and you slow down, you can then work on other tasks that require less mental effort. Don’t avoid the hard tasks. Make it your mission to tackle them head on when you first walk into the office. You will be surprised how great you feel once you can tick them off your list.
- PRIORITISE AND COMPLETE
Now it’s time to jump right in and focus on your top priorities first.It is important you are 100 per cent dedicated to starting and finishing each task and do not deviate from your plan. One of the biggest enemies of time management for BDMs is starting several tasks but never finishing any of them.When you feel like you have gone off track, a great way to steer back is to ask yourself: ‘Is the most important thing I should be doing in front of me right here, right now?’ Don’t let yourself derail from your plan and always stay focused on the income-producing tasks.
- MINIMISE DISTRACTIONS
Distractions like the phone, internet, email, other people, daydreaming and so on can and will work against your plan. Make the necessary arrangements to keep these distractions to a minimum.A great example is emails. I find that they can control our day if we allow them to. A lot of us have a five-minute send/receive alarm set up in our email account. Imagine how productive your day would be if you checked your emails when you arrived in the morning, at lunch time and right before you go home. I encourage you to give it a go – start by trialling it for a day. You will be surprised at where you spend your time and how much time you do waste.
Finally, make sure you block out the appropriate time to speak with employees and co-workers, as well as time to return phone calls, emails, etc. Doing these tasks when they are scheduled is much easier said than done, but I challenge you to have a go.Schedule several breaks during the day and take ‘five-minute power breaks’. During this time you can walk outside or around the office, stretch your legs and clear your mind to recharge your mental batteries. This will allow you to re-focus on your work and get back to your ideal day.
I challenge you to start today by implementing these techniques. If you learn to do them and do them well, you’ll be able to use some of that newly freed time for much needed personal and family enjoyment. Respect your time and come to work each day knowing you not only have the best career but also an opportunity to live your chosen lifestyle. You are the only person who can take control of your day and the way you manage your time!