Publisher's letter

Edition: April 2003 - Vol 11 Number 04
Article#: 1496
Author: Repertoire

Earlier this year, a friend called and asked if I’d come to Phoenix in March to give a presentation on time and territory management for a group of relatively new sales people. Knowing that the weather in March would be far better in Arizona than in Atlanta, and given the opportunity to interact with a core group of Repertoire readers whose thoughts and experiences would be relevant to the content we put together every month, I quickly accepted.

Then it occurred to me that it’s been a very long time since I’ve paid attention to the basic tenets of time management. In the late 1980s, I attended a time and territory management seminar. And about five years ago, I read Stephen R. Covey’s material on time management. I reassured myself that I really did know something about the subject matter after all. In fact, I truly believed I was as productive as possible in both my professional and personal life.

You can imagine my surprise when some of my coworkers found it quite humorous that I was actually speaking on time management. They recognized something I didn’t – I was a mediocre time manager at best.

Preparing for the presentation was a great learning experience. It forced to me to really think through how my daily activities contribute to our company goals as well as my personal goals.

Without realizing it, many of us get caught up in a lot of time-wasting activities. We gravitate to activities we’re most comfortable doing and that come easily. In my case, when I waste time, it’s usually e-mail related. Rather than managing my e-mail effectively (handling it, deleting it and moving on), I often let it pile up. It's no surprise that this results in a lot of wasted time.

Do you do the same things in your line of work? Do you find yourself spending a lot of time with your “favorite” customer whose monthly purchases are half that of the office across the hall where you have no business?

Perhaps the largest time waster is procrastination. And much of it is due to our fear of failure or rejection, which can be paralyzing. So don’t put off the inevitable, just do it! Rejection is a part of everyone’s routine, and as sales people, it’s expected. Shake it off, analyze what went wrong, figure out what you’re going to do differently in the future and move on. If we all had the same mentality as my 5-year old, who refuses to take no for an answer, uses trial and assumptive closes without realizing it and shakes off rejection almost instantaneously, we’d all be much further ahead!

So as a recent convert to utilizing effective time management techniques, I can tell you it works. How can you get started or restarted? Set your goals, prioritize your activities and identify your time wasters. Write down your activities from today and analyze them. How much time did you spend on each? Did they contribute to your goals? Which activities were urgent (or time wasters)? How could you have been more productive?

Self-awareness and the commitment to do better will help you tremendously when it comes to more efficiently managing your time.