I don’t know about you, but 24 hours in a day isn’t enough. And 8 – 9 hours for work just barely covers the paperwork, order follow-up, client calls, e-mails that need answering, voicemail messages, etc. “You mean you want me to prospect and find closing time, too? What, are you kidding?!”

Sound familiar? It should. Sales reps and their managers constantly tell me they are on the run the moment they get in the office. Just opening their email can take them pm a 2 to 3 hour journey away from what they should, want, or need to be doing to drive sales (like the prospecting calls or reload or order calls). What to do?

I just finished giving a seminar on time management to a company here in Southern California, and boy did I need the reminder. I’m much better – and so are they – now that I’m following these Five Keys to Time Management. Use them and you’ll feel better too!

Key #1 – Begin each day with a written list of three to five priorities. Ask yourself: “What are the five things that are crucial for me to accomplish today?” (Hint: ask yourself what five things you can do today that will most affect your bottom line, ie, dollars in your pocket?) Write them down — in order of importance and then….

Key #2 – Start each day with your top three to five priorities and work each one through until it’s done. Then cross it off and work on the next one. Resist the temptation to multitask. Working each one through to completeness is the key. Make sure and cross each one off when you’re done!

This builds momentum, a sense of accomplishment and empowerment, and most importantly you’ll actually be getting your important priorities done each day.

Key #3 – Start with your most important (or most difficult) task first. Accomplishing one or two important tasks always leads to more success — and always frees up the most energy. Once those “mountains” are out of the way, you can easily and more enjoyably take on your other priorities.

Most people do the opposite: they put off the hard (and most important stuff) and get caught up in the time robbers. This is a sure recipe for feeling overwhelmed. Do the opposite — start with the hard, and watch your day get easier!

Key # 4 – Group your other activities. Paperwork, checking e-mail, checking voicemail, etc., are incredible time drains. The worst thing to do is to keep checking them every few minutes. Make a schedule – perhaps after you cross off a priority, you allow 15 minutes to check these things and then go right back to your next priority. Paperwork and other non-essential activities especially are best grouped at the end of the day.

Although these things seem important (and some are) don’t keep getting tangled up in them. You must stick to your top three or five priorities (like 2-3 hours a day spent cold calling — a top five priority that pays for itself many times over). Grouping your activities allows you to get all of the other ‘stuff’ done but not at the expense of your priorities.

Key #5 – Prepare your next day the night before. Before you leave the office, make sure you have your written list of priorities and grouped activities timed and written down. This helps you get off to a running start, and allows you to mentally prepare for your day the night before. It also allows you to get more rest because you’re not worrying about or planning your day as you’re trying to fall asleep at night.

These are the Five Keys to Time Management. Any one of these Keys will make you more productive, reduce your stress, and help you squeeze more out of your day. Use them and you’ll get more done – and you’ll feel better!
So go ahead and start right now. With your top five priorities for today?

by Mike Brooks, Mr. Inside Sales

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