Someone once said, “No one has enough time, yet everyone has all that there is.” True, isn’t it, yet it’s something we still struggle with on a daily basis. We have an endless list of things to get done, and precious little time with which to do them.
Sales guru Jim Meisenheimer says the way to improve your time management skills is to a)do a comprehensive analysis of how you spend your time, and b) check the direction in which you want to go, so that you are not making changes for change’s sake. Almost like a diet keep track of what you are really eating, then make changes that will help you accomplish your goal (you didn’t really believe that your nightly bowl of ice cream was going to help you lose that spare tire, did you?)
In sales, running a business, or even running a household, there are what we think we should be doing and what we actually do. Here’s just some of the ways we waste time:
- doing the wrong work
- planning improperly, or lack of planning altogether
- unproductive waiting time
- wasting time on small stuff (the 80/20 rule)
- handling all problems personally
- going to unproductive meetings
I’m sure you can add 10 things to that list. Speaking of lists, Jim insists that one major way to manage the time beast is a daily “to do” list, which he says must be in writing, every item must be prioritized, and daily means every day, including non-working days. It’s a map to show you the way to guide you through the day, and the power of the list is the focus it provides. Of course, it’s only as good as you make it if you fill your list with easy, non-essential tasks because it makes you feel good to cross them off, you’re not really doing yourself any favors. Put the real stuff on there and make it a priority. And of priorities, Jim says “Don’t prioritize your schedule, schedule your priorities.”
Let’s take a few everyday tasks, like phone calls. If you’ve said that one of your resolutions this year is to make more calls to current and past customers, what’s your plan to do that? How about 5 a day? Since one could say that nothing could be more important than generating more business, how about you schedule that for your most productive time of day, whatever that is for you. What are your objectives for each call? Customers resent routine, unfocused sales calls that consume their valuable time. (“Yeah, hi Susan, Joe here from Super Gallery. How ya’ doing? Yeah, how are you liking that print you bought last year? What’s new? Blah blah blah”) What new information will you impart to this customer? What reason will you give them to come and patronize your gallery? Plan it out, make it short and sweet, and then do it. (“Hi Susan, Joe from Super Gallery calling. Haven’t spoken to you in awhile, and wanted to let you know that we are having a framing special this month and I was thinking of the new addition to your house how’s that coming along? I’d love to talk to you about art for this new space)
How about paperwork? That’s another beast. Between the mail, orders, problems, time sheets, etc, you could drown from what’s on your desk, right? One solution, easily said, and hard to do, is to make it your resolution to handle each paper once don’t reach for it until you can take action on it. Do something with it, give it to someone else, toss it, or wait till you have time to handle it.
How about personal organization? (what personal organization, you may ask!). Get a system, and it doesn’t have to be a fancy handheld computer thing, although those are great. Just develop a system and KISS (do we have to translate that? Keep it simple, s----d!) The Daytimer or Franklin Covey binder systems that they sell in office supply stores, your computer, a family calendar at home just find something that keeps the information you need at your fingertips and learn to use it. As Confucius said, “short pencil better than long memory.”
These are simplistic approaches to truly effective time management, but these are the basics, and if you don’t have the basics down, you won’t be able to handle the big stuff. (and, honestly, the big stuff is just made up of a lot of small stuff).
Being busy is no substitute for being successful.
You really can’t save time, you can only invest it. How you invest your time and the return on your investment is something you must consider carefully.