Do you find yourself getting to 4PM and thinking “Man, I got a lot done, but where did the time go?” Do you catch yourself deep in the weeds on a topic, issue, or opportunity and wonder, “How did I get so involved in this? Is there someone better served to take the lead here?” We all have time wasters in our days. Here are the top 3 things that cost me time as a sales leader, and how I’ve learned to overcome them.
1. Poor Time Management
Time management might be the hardest thing for a leader. Deciding how to allocate those few minutes of free time can seem impossible, but it doesn’t have to be. Over time, I have become stricter with my daily “to-do” and “will-do” lists. I look at my day, realistically, and recant what I need to accomplish. I then create a plan to optimize the time I have available. What I, like many leaders, struggle with most is not allowing distractions to derail that plan. On the days that I am disciplined with my time, I accomplish far more than the days where I end up at 4PM, head in palm, wondering where the day went. Though that time was spent working on good things, it may not necessarily be the right things. Here are some ideas to avoid distractions:
- Work away from your desk. If you find frequent distractions at your desk, find an area in the office where you can step away to be most productive.
- Block your calendar to make headway on strategic projects
- Share a weekly calendar with your team that shows: your available time, time out of the office, current prioritized projects, and any big things on the horizon. Clarity will help your team know where and when to interrupt you with immediate customer concerns and when to bring low priority projects to you.
2. Lack of Patience
Have you heard yourself say (inward or outward), “I’ll just do it myself, so I know it gets done”. Patience truly is a virtue so often taken for granted. When we are impatient for something to happen or be completed, we like to take the bull by the horns. Alternatively, those times when I have sat, had patience, and allowed someone to take the lead the outcome was great… if not, even better. Impatience costs you time and money. Use your daily plan to define what tasks you can’t accomplish and engage others in the projects. What you don’t have time to do can offer more experience and empowerment for developing others. When I look at it that way, it lends to even better outcomes. Have you made impatient decisions recently? What did it cost you? Who could have developed from that experience?
3. Struggling with Priorities
How do you decide what lands in the “I need to accomplish” list and what can be transferred off of that list? When juggling daily execution tasks, short term initiatives and long term strategies, I often find myself struggling with the prioritization of it all.
I have found success in dividing my day into a percentage of time and delegating priorities accordingly. For instance, I may say this week I will spend 25% of my time on sales development, 25% of my time on leader development, 15% on current initiatives, 15% on business strategies, and 20% being available. I then take those percentages and apply on my daily calendar with either appropriate meetings or blocks of time to be unavailable for things that will distract and/or derail my discipline. Do you pre-plan your week or do your days plan your week?
All in, when I look at the things that cost me time, I know there will always be distractions. There will always be immediate customer needs, projects that take me into the weeds, and times I don’t have patience. However, by using these few ideas when planning my week, I’m able to be a better leader and better employee. Remember to leverage the strengths of others around you, stay diligent with your time and you will be able to minimize these inevitabilities.
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