Getting more things done in the same amount of time leads to big results. Here, we’re going to look at the principles for you to adopt to maximise time and become a productivity leader. And better sales productivity ultimately breeds revenue.
The principles we’ll look at are:
- Finding your working zen
- Being ruthless with time
- Utilising the tools at your disposal
- Tactically hiding
- Challenging the status quo
- Being agile
- Embracing mindfulness
- Understanding the value of preparation
- Recognising human limitations
Read on to find out what they all mean!
Finding your working ‘zen’
By ‘zen’, we don’t mean your yogi-self. What we mean is finding the balance between thinking and doing.
- Get things written down from your brain
- If you think you do too much thinking, focus on balancing that with the doing, and vice versa
- Preparation improves performance
Being ruthless with time
There is a point where too much becomes less – too many internal meetings, too many emails being sent and received, and you’re trying to do too much.
- If you try and do too much, you’ll be spread thin and distracted
- Don’t cherry-pick the things you want to do, focus on the important things, not the easiest things
- Time without attention is useless, and attention is easily broken, so reduce distractions
- You lose 15 minutes for every 1 minute interruption
- List your priorities at the end of each day for the following day and be ruthless with your meetings
Utilising the tools at your disposal
Productivity is personal. It’s a personal choice and there are different tools that work for different people. But, sometimes, the tool is only as good as the beholder. Use tools to their maximum to become action-orientated.
- Take control of your inbox. You do email when you choose, not when it arrives
- Identify times when you check notifications so there are times when you are on, times when you are off
- Turn off notifications so it doesn’t grab your attention
- Process emails in batches rather than individually
- Communicate with the right channel for the occasion
Hiding isn’t always something you would want to associate with sales, but not always being available enables you to avoid distractions and have periods of pure productivity. We call this tactical hiding, or stealth mode.
- Avoid distractions by putting your status to do not disturb
- Put your mobile phone away from your desk so you aren’t tempted to check it
- Measure how much can actually be done in just an hour of productivity – how many calls made and so on
- Communicate when you are ‘going dark’ – i.e. you can get hold of me here…
- Being less available at times isn’t always a bad thing
Challenging the status quo
When it comes to anything in your day, challenge the status quo. Ask yourself, why do we do things: Does it serve a purpose? What value do I get out of it? Once you identify the ‘why’ questions, ask the ‘what if?’: What if we took away that team meeting? What if I move my phone to another room? What if I went dark for 2 hours on a Thursday morning to do calls?
- Trial and error different approaches
- If you hate something, you can always go back to how it was before
- Reward yourself for completing hard tasks or tasks you don’t like doing
- Starting the day with the worst task often means everything from then on will get better
Being prepared, having a to-do list and being focused is all well and good but there will always be times when there are fires and some firefighting is required.
- If you think you are constantly firefighting, take a step back, allow some fires to burn out – audit where fires are continually being created and the reasons they are being started
- Remember that change is inevitable
- Multitasking is actually just distracting ourselves, meaning we are constantly refocusing. It takes more time, it is more stressful, and it ends up with more work and mistakes
- Try serial mono-tasking rather than multitasking – do similar tasks together
Sales burnout is real, particularly in the year just gone. Being able to identify when you need to mentally rest is critical to sustainable performance.
- Discover what helps you switch off – is it exercise, cooking, yoga, meditation?
- You only fully benefit from something if you fully immerse yourself in it
- Think about perspective – stop and take note of what you have done
Understanding the value of preparation
Preparing gives your future self a gift. Yet so many salespeople fail to prepare. Preparation is arguably the biggest enabler for success. Don’t go into every day flying blind. It results in lost hours every day.
- Preparation includes practical and work-related activities – healthy meal preparation, checklists, preparing exercise gear before a run
- Sleep is another part of preparation – do you get enough? Sleep deprivation is as cognitive impairing as being drunk
- The best thinking and relationship building we do all dips when we aren’t prepared, mentally and physically
Recognising human limitations
We aren’t superheroes. We all have limits, we can’t save everyone, and nothing is perfect.
- Rather than aim for perfection, aim for progress
- If you find yourself staring at a screen, take breaks or go for a walk
- You can only do your best work when you do take breaks. Decision fatigue means you make worse decisions when you are not rested
- Totally switch off when you leave work
- Identify wellbeing as fuel for productivity – top performers look after themselves
Finally, when it comes to productivity, it’s important to share your commitments to improve accountability, share celebrations and best practices with the team, and share any challenges – what went wrong and why? Become more productive means getting things done quicker, making more sales and lowering stress levels. Don’t underestimate the seismic changes productivity can have on performance.