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Time Management - Take Control Of Your Day

A typical sales leader’s day is consumed with customer fires, meetings at every level, a conflict between departments, and frequently running out of time. Wouldn't' it be nice if you had the time to build a better team with a good culture that’s thriving? If you answered yes, then these time management tips are for you.

What is time management?

With limited time, sales leaders often move away from the impactful things like 1-on-1's, coaching, and ride-a-longs to more urgent things. That is the time management issue they battle with most. According to Spica, "1 in 3 employees found that they waste 2 - 5 hours per day on meetings, but they achieve nothing to show. "

Time management is the process of organizing and planning how to divide your time between specific activities. If done correctly, you will get more done quickly and efficiently, even when things are tight.

However, not everyone is taught excellent time management skills, according to, Wall Street Journal. "Office workers are wasting 40% off their workday because they were never taught organizing skills to cope with increasing workloads and demands." Fortunately, you can follow a few tips to mitigate the loss of time and increase efficiency. 

Structure your day

According to Clockwise, "Business owners waste up to a third of their week through low-value activities." That wouldn't be the case if they structured their days better. There are several ways you can structure your day, find one that suits you.

Time block method

When it comes to structuring your day, one method is to plan focus time or a focus block. It is a dedicated chunk of time, usually an hour a day, that you set aside to work on a task item or project that requires your time, energy, and attention to produce the best possible result.

Mornings seem to be the most optimal period. However, that is not universal for everyone; the best way to find your optimal time for focus is to track your energy levels throughout the day.

  • When do you seem to get the most work done?
  • Do you find it hard to concentrate?
  • When do you have the most energy?

Track these, and you'll find out when you should set aside time on your calendar for focus time. Blocking that time on your calendar and allowing your team and others to see it will help cut back on interruptions and distractions.

Just as you block off time for focus and proactive time, you should also block off reactive time. Reactive time allows for open requests and interruptions, such as an email, quick project, or impromptu meetings. This method has the added advantage of helping you know exactly how you're going to use your time and when you're going to accomplish specific tasks.

MIT (Most Important Things) Method

The MIT method is all about focusing on what's essential to get done THAT day. Rather than writing a massive to-do list and trying to get it all done, determine the 2-3 necessary tasks and focus solely on them during the day. This method has the added challenge of deciding what you would consider important when all smaller tasks are vying for your attention. But if you do the most important thing first each day, you'll always get something important done.

MIT's are a great fix for getting yourself out of unneeded meetings. Send someone else or show up only when needed. Ask your boss to get out of them so you can work with the team – they will almost always agree. Develop your system so you don't have to be the bottleneck for pricing (can't always get out of it) or discussions with other departments. That frees up LOTS of time to spend with your team.  

Pomodoro Technique

The last method is called the Pomodoro Technique, which focuses on breaking your workday into 25-minute periods separated by five-minute breaks. These intervals are referred to as pomodoros. After about four pomodoros, you take a more extended break of about 15 to 20 minutes. Just like a sprint, this method involves an actual timer to create a sense of urgency. Instead of feeling like you have endless time to get something done, you know you only have 25 minutes to makes as much progress as possible.

You will have to determine which method is right for you to utilize your time well, without distractions or interruptions.

Time Management Tools

There are several tools to aid you in time management, to name a few:

Scoro provides tools needed for efficient time management, including time tracking, billing, work reporting, project, and task management.

Asana combines project management elements, file storage, collaboration, and helps to manage projects across a team without email.

Trello is known for visualizing project tasks on a cardboard-like dashboard that is great for managing short and quick everyday assignments.

Without investing more money in technology, there are plenty of free options available. However, you may be surprised to find out many great underutilized features your email has available.

You can set alerts within Gmail to appear for "high priority" emails only, which works separately to the notification settings configured at the Android or iOS level. You can create sub-labels and categories too.

Within Outlook you can delegate tasks to people in your team and get notified when they are complete. You can create and manage email rules to file in specific folders. Rules can be set from certain people, to certain people, or a particular subject line.

Interruptions in the workplace

According to PeopleHr, "The average interruption takes 5 minutes to deal with. That means we only get 3 minutes of productivity out of every 8 minutes we work – or in other words, we're spending around 4 hours of each working day being interrupted." That's a lot of wasted time. Take advantage of available tools and actions to minimize interruptions.

Stop Distractions

No matter how much time you set aside or how well you structure your day, something always comes up, right? Important emails? Or a fire you need to put out? In fact, Lifehack stats "nearly three out of four workers (70%) admit they feel distracted at work, with 16% of people stating that they're almost always distracted." There are a few simple ways for you to stop those distractions from happening.Turn off your phone or at least put your notifications on silent.

  • Turn off your phone or at least put your notifications on silent.
  • Shut your door. Make this the universal sign for "do not disturb."
  • Have a universal email language designed around response time and keywords.
  • Don't get sucked in the social media hole.

If you want more information on keeping distractions to a minimum, check out our blog, "How To Keep Your Team Focused."

When it comes to time management, just like everything, it takes time and hard work. Find out when your most productive in the day, use scheduling tools, structure your day to whichever method best fits you, and stop distractions. If you do all of these, you'll find that you'll be more productive and efficient.

About Gary Braun

Gary is a founder and co-owner of Pivotal Advisors. He has worked for 20+ years as a salesperson and sales leader. Gary has been a guest speaker for many groups such as Vistage, Allied Executives, CEO Roundtable, Sales Management Association, and more. If you want to find out more about Gary check out his profile here.
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