86,400 seconds; 1,440 minutes and poof another day is gone.
Lyrics from The Steve Miller Band say it all "Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping into the future."
Time is the only resource we can’t manage. We can’t store it up or save it for later, we can’t add or create more minutes when demand increases, and we can’t make the minutes stop clicking by. There is no alternative resource to time and therefore it is the most precious resource we have.
It stands to reason then that Time Management is the request we most often get from prospects - those who are interested in our leadership effectiveness training, our sales effectiveness or sales management training, our account management training, our recruiting effectiveness training… (see a theme here?). No matter the role where skill enhancement is desired, “time management” is always a perceived critical need. What they are actually asking is, “How can I be more productive?” or “Can you teach my team how to be more productive?"
We can and we do by focusing on these 4 principles:
We don’t call it time management, we call it priority management, because that is something you actually can control. What you make a priority gets done. When you can’t or don’t get something done, it’s simply because it hasn’t been made a priority.
Begin by thinking strategically about your role and answer these 3 questions at the start of every week:
a. What contributions to the company am I getting paid to do?
b. What actions do I need to take to deliver on those contributions?
c. What is preventing me from taking those actions on a daily basis?
Steven Covey, Peter Drucker, Dale Carnegie, Tony Robbins, Mel Robbins, Brendon Burchard, Napoleon Hill, Brian Tracy (the list of known authors/trainers and gurus of effectiveness goes on and on) all speak to effectiveness as being a direct result of planning. It’s been proven that 15 minutes of planning can save you 4 hours. Too busy to plan? Seriously? 15 minutes every day. That is roughly only 1% of the day. Almost everyone recommends doing it first thing in the morning BEFORE you do anything else. BEFORE you check your cell phone, BEFORE you check emails, BEFORE you turn on the news. BEFORE anything else hijacks your mind and therefore your time. (okay, you can make coffee). But commit to planning your day. And be sure to include these things in your daily plan:
a. What 3 things do I absolutely need to complete today? (not 10 or 20, but the top 3 priorities!)
b. What are the 3 things that have been on my list for too long and how will I address them?
c. How will I contribute to results today?
d. What opportunities should I be preparing to handle, even if I don’t have time today?
3. Pass, Pause or Pass along
As demands on your time come up that weren’t on your plan (hello – that’s all day long), you must make a decision on each. Do you pass on it altogether (just say no)? Do you pause it (delay it for later)? Or do you pass it along to some-one else who is more likely qualified to handle it just as well as you can – perhaps even better? Here are a few examples:
Salesperson gets an opportunity to respond to an RFP. It’s a new prospect and a name they’d love to have in their portfolio. They’ve never been able to meet with anyone there, don’t have insight into how the decision is going to be made and the prospect won’t meet with them (for they don’t have the TIME to meet with everyone). Salesperson can spend time on this RFP and have a 10% chance of winning the deal. Or can PASS on it and use that valuable time to expand relationships and cultivate opportunities.
You have 100 new emails and it’s only 11am. You can feel productive if you spent the next couple of hours responding to them and cleaning out your inbox. Or you can remain focused on what you prioritized for the day and answer the emails at set intervals within the next 24 hours. Pausing is the way to remain the most productive. Let’s be honest, several emails will resolve themselves within that time frame – or you can batch a response to several of them. Pausing will help you stay focused on your priorities, batch your work, and avoid demands on your time that are truly not urgent
Also known as Delegation. Can’t we all get a little better at it? How many times have you thought – “it’s faster to just do it myself” and then just did it yourself? Making the decision to pass something along should not be based on whether it’s faster for you to do it at that moment, but rather whether it interrupts or blocks you from doing what your priority contribution to the company should be. Passing things along will help others grow and thus your organization grow.
Peter Drucker states, “The definition of routine is that it makes unskilled people without judgement capable of doing what it took near genius to do before.”
Let that settle in because this is the most important component of “time management”. What we find is the biggest roadblock to productivity is the lack of a process. Whether it’s a process for handling customer complaints, for planning for sales calls, for asking great questions, for communicating to your client, or for coaching your team, they all lead to increased productivity.
Checklists, scalable repeatable methodologies allow you to move with speed, collaboratively and strategically. If you find you’re dealing with the same “problem” over and over, you probably need to review your process and/or create one that will use the limited amount of time most effectively.
Struggling with time/priority management? It is a skill that can be developed with process, structure and practice. At Butler Street we understand the most important time is the present and what we do with the present will determine our future. If you or your leaders are struggling with time management, we can help sales professionals, account managers, recruiters and leaders be more productive. Contact us today before another day is gone.