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You came here for learning time management skills, here is how to effectively manage your time in sales.

You need more than just time management techniques, or time management tools.  Learning time management skills will incorporate both.

On this page you will receive extensive instruction on learning time management skills.  If you are simply looking for quick and easy tips on time management click here,or far a way to delegate effectivley click here.
As salespeople suffering from A-D-D, the single most important thing we need to do for effective time management is to get our list of tasks-to-do out of our heads and documented.  As a salesperson, we have over-active minds.  Our over-active minds keep a list of all the things we need to do, and then bombards us will requests all day long. 

Your mental to-do list is stored in your subconscious mind, and your subconscious mind has no logic (logic is a function on the conscious mind.)  It also has no concept of time, time management techniques, or learning time mangement skills.  

No matter how insignificant the item is, our subconscious minds don’t care, they continue to send reminders to our conscious brain.

Subconscious Mind: “Hey, hey, hey!!  Remember, you need to buy wart remover for the wart on your pinky toe!”

Conscious Mind: “Who give a crap, I am preparing for a big presentation!”

Subconsious Mind:  “Right, okay, but hey, remember the wart remover…”

We are to blame.  Consciously, we saw a wart on our pinky toe, and told ourselves to remember to buy wart remover.  The subconscious mind went to work reminding us.  

Theses constant reminders effect our time management techniques, because they are distracting, and are why we find ourselves doing menial, meaningless tasks, and wondering why things aren’t getting done.

 Remove Distractions from learning time management skills

To cure this, we have got to learning time mangement skills to calm the fears of the worry-wart (no pun intended) subconscious mind.  One of the time management tools we use to do this is to put all the things we need to do on paper .  That way we don’t need to “remember” them, and the subconscious mind isn’t worried that we will forget to do them.

Step 1 in learning time management skills

Step 1:  The first step in learning time management skills is to write down every single thing that you can think of that you need to do.  I mean Everything!  From getting an oil change, to clipping your finger nails, to taking the trash to the curb, to planning a vacation, to sending thank you notes, to asking for a raise, and re-working your sales presentation, to applying for a patent on an idea you had…  Everything!!!

Use some time management techniques, and lock yourself in a room undisturbed for an hour of uninterrupted concentration. Write down all those things-to-do that have been bouncing around in your head.  You will be amazed how many will come pouring out.  No matter how obscure, write it down.  This is the foundation for learning time mangement skills.

Step 2 in learning time management skills

Step 2:  Okay, now you have a big hodge-podge list of everything under the sun that you need to do.  Wow!!!  Do not feel stressed at the long list, let it be okay that you have 125 things or more to do. These are the steps you need to take in learning time management skills.

And, you will only have to do this once in your entire life!!!

Step 3, 4, and 5 in learning time management skills
can all be done together

Step 3, 4, and 5: Most business software systems have a Task function which is one of the time management tools we are going to use.  Here is where you are going to input all your tasks that you just created (Step 3) with their Next Action Step (step 4).  Your software should also allow you to create categories to categorize your tasks (Step 5), and also apply deadlines and reminders to each task (Step 6).

Steps 3, 4, 5, can all be done at the same time to save you time. It is best if you read through this section once before starting to input tasks using these time management tools.  

Step 3 in learning time management skills

Input all your tasks-to-do into the task function of your business software.

Step 4 in learning time management skills:
Next Action Steps

Add the Next Action Step you need to take in order to complete the Individual tasks that you just input to the Task funtion. The Next Action Step is critical in learning time management skills.

For examples for what a Next Action Step is, let’s look at some possible tasks you might have on your list: Connect with Prospect One, Connect with Prospect Two, and Connect with Prospect Three.  It might look something like this:

Task: Connect with Prospect One
Next Action Step:   Pick up the phone and dial 567-555-2323.

Task: Connect with Prospect Two
Next Action Step:  Call information and get their number.

Task: Connect with Prospect Three
Next Action Step:  Research LinkedIn for possible connections.

Some Next Action Steps are pretty simple and intuitive like the one for Connect with Prospect One.  In other cases there is something you need to do first in order to complete the task. 

You might have the task:  Delegate PowerPoint presentation for XYZ corp to my assistant. The Next Action Step for this task might be:  Sketch out an outline for presentation. 

You see, you have to sketch an outline of the presentation before you can delegate it to him or her.  Without this Next Action Step spelled out to you, you might look at the task, wonder where to start, decide it is too big of task to do at the time, and procrastinate it.

It is simple learning time management skills like the Next Action Step, and even easier to implement them!

Step 5 in learning time management skills: categorize

Don't Prioritize, Categorize!

Now you need to categorize the list.  Not prioritize the list!!!  Once you have a task and Next Action Step then file it under the appropriate category in your task folder.  

Here are the categories I use in my task folder.  You might have others, feel free to add to or delete mine.  You are learning time management skills for you, and these time management techiques should be customized to your needs.

At the phone:  These are calls that I need to make.  These are not phone appointments that have been scheduled (those go on your calendar).  Ex:  Call the doctor, call the landscaper, touch base with Mark, Connect with Prospect One, Connect with Prospect Two, Connect with Prospect Three.

At the computer:  These are all the things I need to do on my computer that does not require connectivity.  So if I am travelling and on a plane and don’t have internet access, I do these things.  Example:  Write presentation for XYZ.  Prepare proposal for ZYX.  Review PowerPoint for sales meeting.

Online:  These are all the things I need to do that require an internet connection:  Buy and send wife a present, download sales reports, research competition, send email blast…

Things to talk to my boss about:  (I use his name as the label to the category.)  Here I put all the things that I need to tell my boss or talk to my boss about.  This way if he or she calls, I can pull up my list of tasks, and cover them then, instead of playing phone tag for each item as it pops in my head.  Example:  I put Billy on notice, marketing isn’t providing the needed support for presentation, topics for the next sales meeting, award nominees...

Things to talk to my subordinates about:  This is what I need to tell all of my people about.  Example:  Tentative training dates, stuff corporate is doing to remedy a problem, updates sales forecasts.

Dan (a subordinate):  Things I need to address or talk specifically to Dan about.

Dave (a subordinate):  Things I need to address or talk specifically to Dave about.

Things to talk to my assistant about:  These are things I need to tell or delegate to my assistant.  Example:  Prepare PowerPoint presentation for XYZ corp.

Waiting on other people:  These are all the things that I have delegated and requested from other people.  Things other people owe me.  So, if I delegated prepare a PowerPoint presentation for XYZ corp to my assistant, then I move that item from “things to talk to my assistant about” to the “waiting on other people” category.  (In Outlook you can assign different categories to the same tasks.  So maybe "prepare a PowerPoint presentation for XYZ corp" is under both the “Waiting on other people” category and the “things to talk to my assistant about” category.  This is personal preference to using these time management tools.  The only thing to remember is that when the task is complete, you have to delete it from both categories. 

Potential prospects:  I use this folder only for prospects that I have not ever contacted.  So, if I am at a networking event, and someone tells me that I should talk to Julie at Amcor, I put that in this category.  Prospects who you have made contact with should be in another category (at Phone or at Computer).

At home:  This is all the stuff I need to do at home.  AKA, my honey-do list.  Example: rake the yard, paint the fence, clean the gutters, pay the electric bill…

Errands out and about town:  These are both work and personal items I need to do when I am in town.  Example: Pick up dry-cleaning, buy protein bars, get oil change, buy printer paper, buy relish, tooth paste…

At the office:  These are all the things that I have to do at the office that does not require a computer, or the phone.  Examples:  Visit and thank Betty in accounting, Clean and organize my desk, fix squeak in office chair, write hand-written thank you card to Jerry…

Things to do with the kids:  Here I capture ideas of things to do with my kids that are good ideas and I don’t want to forget.  Detroit Lions game (tickets are cheap!), Greenfield Village, slot car racing…

And lastly the infamous, all-encompassing, catchall...

Someday maybe:  This is the list for all those great ideas that you have that you want to do someday, that you want to “remember”, but aren’t a priority.  Example:  Get a patent on my new mouse trap idea, travel to Barbados, buy a complete set of Craftsman Tools, read Selling the Invisible, update my passport in case I travel, put photos in photo album, buy a new garden shed, continue learning time management skills, set up google doc account, find my army buddy Rob, investigate prices on woodworking lathes...

No matter how grandiose or in the future the item may be, get it out of your head and put it in this category. Remember, getting everything out of your head is a key factor for these time management techniques.

Remember, you only have to set up a category once.  The next task you have to place under that category, you will simply have to select that category (At Phone).  If you choose you can set up all your categories before adding your tasks when implementing these time management techniques.

Feeling better?  You are learning time management skills.  Stick with me…

Step 6 in learning time management skills:  Prioritize

Step 6:  Now we can prioritize all your tasks.  Don’t worry, you won’t have to prioritize a list of 125 things that you need to do.  That is not time management, that's torcher.  

You are only going to have two lists to work from for the rest of your life. 

The first list is the Highest Revenue or Highest Impact Tasks that you can do.  We are in sales.  In order to make any revenue, we must sell, or be moving toward a sale.  This list is our life blood. 

We will do the things on this list before we do any others.  In fact, we are learning time mangement skills in order to get these tasks done in the first place!

The second list is your Everything-Else Master Task List that you just created.  This list contains all the other tasks that you have to do, less the Highest Revenue or Highest Impact tasks.

This is the single most important section for learning time management skills.

If you don't do anything else mentioned on this webpage because you don't have the time to (which is why you need to continue learning time mangement skills on this web page), at a minimum do the following.  If you learn this time management skill, you can stop learning time management skills forever.

The last 15 minutes of each work day, will be spent preparing your Highest Revenue and Highest Impact List with their Next Action Steps.  You will pull this Highest Revenue or Highest Impact List from your Everything-Else Master List that you just created in Step 1.

Review your Everything-Else Master List, and select the six Highest Revenue and Highest Impact tasks.  You should only have 6 (maximum 8) Highest Revenue or Highest Impact items on this list any given day. 

Once this is done, go home.  Then review your list for a few minutes before you go to bed. Looking at the list before you go to bed is a great time management technique.  It helps to put your subconscious mind to rest because it knows that those things will be taken care of. 

When the subconscious mind is at rest, it allows you to rest so you are not tossing and turning worrying about things.  Also, when you do this, it gives your subconscious mind 8 hours to start working on the best way to complete the tasks.  Now our subconscious mind is helping with our time management techniques instead of hurting it.

The next morning you get up, go to work, and you immediately start on the Next Action Step required for each Highest Revenue and Highest Impact activity. See, time management techniques are easy!!

Do this before doing anything else. 

Don’t check your email, don’t peek at your blackberry, don’t talk to a co-worker, don’t take any calls, don’t go to the bathroom, don’t allow interruptions, until the first action step of each Highest Revenue and Highest Impact activity is completed. 

(The only exception to this is your subconscious mind brings up something that you need to do that you haven’t written down.  Quickly write it down to shut the subconscious mind up, and continue on your list). 

After completing an action step, write the Next Action Step it will take to complete the task, and do that Next Action Step.  Do this until the task is complete, or you are pulled away.  

When it is time to get back to work on that task, you will know exactly what to do next without having to think about it.

For example:  If you call Prospect One and you get voice mail, can you take it off your list?  No, the task was "to connect" with Prospect One. So the task stays on the list and the Next Action Step is “call back” Prospect One.

If you did make contact with Prospect One, then that task is complete and you can delete it (a great feeling).  But, that may have created another task. 

Task: Send follow up email to Prospect One. 
Next Action Step: Write the follow up email.

Once your Highest Revenue or Highest Impact items are done for the day, do you know what you do next?  Whatever you feel like doing, or are in a position to do.  This is the beauty of these time management techniques!

If you are driving in your car, do the items on the “At Phone” list. 

If you are stuck in the airport without connectivity, do items on the “At Computer” list. 

If you are in your office at your phone with a computer and connectivity then do whatever you feel like. 

If you are on-fire, motivated, and in a great selling mood, maybe you go to your Potential Prospect list and start the Next Action Steps there. 

If a deal just blew-up, and you hate everyone, then go to your “At Office” list and maybe start cleaning up your desk. 

If you are stuck in traffic, you could pull off and go to your “Errands Around Town” list, or pull up the “waiting on others” list and call those people to follow up.

Do you see how incredibly flexible and product these time management techniques are?  Where ever you are, whatever the circumstance, you are poised for action.

These time management techniques and time management tools build flexibility into your schedule, your moods, and location, and result in a highly focused and productive day. Do you see why you invested time in learning time management skills?

Step 7 in learning time management skills: Dealines

Before we finish learning time management skills, we have to talk about time management techniques for deadlines.  Let's say on Monday the CEO tasks you with compiling an erroneous, non-revenue producing, pain-in-the-ass, report that he needs by Friday.  Is it a Highest Revenue task?  No.  Is it a High Impact activity?  When he calls you the following Monday and asks for the report that was due last week, it might be!!!  Not very good time management!

So, how do you keep track of that deadline?  Do you put it on your Calendar?  Never! 

Your calendar is only used for when you have to be somewhere, or on the phone at a certain time on a certain date (Birthdays, anniversaries, and other such items can also go on your calendar).  It is not a place where you keep your list of things to do. 

On Monday when the CEO tasked you for a report due on Friday, it wasn’t a High Impact task.  On Thursday, when the task-reminder goes off and informs you that your report is due to the CEO tomorrow, that task suddenly becomes a High Impact task.  

There is a chapter entirely about planning in my book, Corporate Infantry:  Everything I know about Corportate Sales I learned in Combat.  It will help you plan, so you are not waiting the day before something is due in order to do it. You can read an excerpt from my book regarding planning by clicking here.

There are also time management tools built into your software that allows you to assign a task with a suspense date to someone else.  These are great time management tools.  So once you write the outline for the PowerPoint you want your assistant to create, you can assign her the task with a suspense date, attach your outline, and send it to him or her. Your time management techniques just became their time management techniques.

Other great time management tools will allow you to turn email messages into tasks. This is covered in effective email time management techniques.

The blessed blackberry in
learning time management skills

You can synchronize your tasks onto your Blackberry, and take your lists with you where ever you go.  You crackberry users should love that!

Blackberry’s typically will show your entire list of tasks in alphabetical order.  Most have a filter function that when you use it, it filters out all the other categories, and then display only the category (say At Phone) you selected. 

Also, as you think of other tasks away from your computer, put the task in your blackberrry to synch later.

Do your best and go home.

If you don’t get all of your Highest Revenue or Highest Impact tasks accomplished in the day, that’s fine. Just use your time management techniques and make a new list that night and include the unfinished tasks with its Next Action Step on your new list. Start on them the next day.

If you couldn’t get those tasks finished with these time management techniques, you definitely wouldn’t have been able to finish them without learning time management skills. So don’t feel bad about what you don’t get done.  Focus on your tasks, their Next Action Steps, use these time management techniques, and the results will take care of themselves.

Step 8 in learning time management skills:  constantly improve your time management techniques

Lastly, you can always and constantly improve by learning time management skills.  Choose a couple of additioanl time management techniques and tips to employ until they become habit, and then choose a couple more time management techniques and tips until they become habit...

Doesn't it feel good learning time management skills?  Your Next Action Step is go and apply them!!!

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