I hear so many BDMs say, “If only there were a couple of extra hours in my day! I would achieve so much more!”
Many of us tend to procrastinate during our daily routines. Do you find yourself spending time on activities that have nothing to do with what you were hoping to achieve that day? Have you ever considered keeping a record of what you actually get up to each day?
It will never matter how organised you are because there are only ever going to be 24 hours in a day. The funny thing about the term “time management” is that you can't really manage time. What you can do however, is manage yourself. This is why it is so important to have an Ideal Week (see below) in place to make sure you are 100 per cent accountable for where you spend your time.
Here are seven steps that will help to improve your time management skills:
1. Create A New Habit: Poor time management is a behaviour that a lot of BDMs develop over time. The first step to rectifying this is to recognise the problem and then make the decision to change. It takes 21 days to create a new habit and after 21 days your new routine will be like second nature.
2. Creating An Ideal Day/Week: Similar to other disciplines, effective time management is a something that can be learned and mastered over time. The key principle to effective time management is planning. First, plan each day in advance – use Outlook, or any other form of online calendar that works best for you. Towards the end of your day, take the time to plan out your next day. Ask yourself: “What is the most important use of my time?” and “What are the income-producing activities I should focus on?”.
3. Highlight Priority Tasks: Prioritise the key tasks that must be accomplished (based on the answers to the two questions above). Once you have your list of tasks for the day, prioritise them in order of highest to lowest. By planning the afternoon before, you will find it easier to sleep at night, as your conscious mind can rest now that you don’t have to worry about remembering every task.
4. Implement Block-Out Sessions: Think about the appointments in your day that get moved around because they may be too hard or you just don’t feel like you have the time. A few that come to mind are cold calling and prospecting. It is very easy to procrastinate if you don’t have the task blocked out in your calendar. It doesn’t matter how many leads you have coming in, you should always have prospecting time blocked out every day.
5. Eat Your Live Frog For Breakfast: Don’t avoid the hard tasks. Make it your mission to tackle the most difficult and high priority jobs head-on when you first walk into the office. You will be surprised how great you feel once you can tick them off of your list. Leave tasks that require less mental effort until later in the day as things are slowing down.
6. Prioritise And Complete: Now that you have your ideal day planned, jump right in and focus on your top priorities first. Do not deviate from your plan. It is important you are 100 per cent dedicated to starting and finishing each task. One of the biggest enemies of time management for BDMs is starting several tasks but never finishing any of them. When you feel like you have gone off track, a great way to steer back is to ask yourself: “Is the most important thing I should be doing in front of me right here, right now?”. You should always stay focused on income-producing tasks.
7. Minimise Distractions: Distractions like phones, internet, co-workers, daydreaming, etc., can and will work against your plan. Make the necessary arrangements to keep these distractions to a minimum.
A great example of these distractions is emails. I find that they can control your day if you allow them to. A lot of us have a five-minute send/receive alarm set up in our email account. Imagine how productive your day would be if you checked you emails when you arrived in the morning, at lunch time and right before you go home. I encourage you to give it a go – start by trialling it for a day. You will be surprised at where you spend your time and how much time you do waste.
Finally, make sure you block out the appropriate time to speak with employees and co-workers, as well as time to return phone calls, emails, etc. Doing these tasks when they are scheduled is much easier said than done, but I challenge you to have a go.
Schedule several breaks during the day and take five-minute power breaks. During this time, you can walk outside or around the office, stretch your legs and clear your mind to recharge your mental batteries. This allows you to get refocused on your work and help achieve your Ideal Day.
I challenge you to start today by implementing these techniques. If you learn to do them and do them well, you'll be able to use some of that newly freed time for much needed personal and family enjoyment. Respect your time and come to work each day knowing you not only have the best career but also an opportunity to live your chosen lifestyle. You are the only person who can take control of your day and the way you manage your time.