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Steve Clark: Are You Wasting Your Most Valuable Resource?

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What is your most valuable resource? If you said anything other than time you would be wrong. Time is the only nonrenewable resource you will ever have. You can acquire more of almost everything except time. More friends, more money, more possessions, more wealth all can be acquired but you can’t acquire more time.

As a sales professional you are paid in direct proportion to how well you use your time. There are 1,440 minutes in a day. How many of those minutes are you productive? How many of those minutes do you waste?

By most accounts people are productive less than 10 percent of those 1,440 minutes each day. Lee Iacocca, one of the most well respected CEOs of our time, admitted that he was productive only about 45 minutes each day. Various studies have shown that salespeople are productive at most about 90 minutes each day.

If you think you are more productive I challenge you to do this time productivity activity. Take a legal pad and in the left hand margin write out, in fifteen increments, the hours of the day. Each 15 minutes track and write down what you did. Do this as you go through the day, not at the end of the day when your memory will fail you. Do this for three weeks and then analyze how much of your time is spent doing non productive activities. If you keep an accurate record you will be astounded.

Once you come to the honest realization that you are wasting at least 80 percent of your working day, you might want to employ some of the following techniques to help you become more productive.

  1. Turn off the cell phone and quit answering in-bound phone calls unless you are the receptionist. Telephone usage is out of control. People are addicted to the ringing of the phone the way Pavlov’s dogs were addicted to the ringing of the bell. As a result they are constantly interrupted and suffer from poor productivity.
  2. Minimize meetings. Most business meetings are a waste of time. They are attended by participants that erroneously think attendance constitutes productivity. They are punctuated by long discussions that seldom solve anything or result in decisions being made. If you must have a meeting have one with no chairs in the room and no food or drink served. This will encourage people to get the business done so they can return to the comfort of their cubicle where they can prop their feet up on their desk and check their email or surf the web.
  3. Be on time. One of my mentors, Dan Kennedy, says that the single greatest characteristic of successful people is their punctuality. Being punctual is an integrity issue that illustrates whether or not one can be trusted. Personally, I will not buy from a salesperson that is late for their appointment.
  4. Make and use written lists. Every successful salesperson I know makes and uses written lists. Daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual lists. Lists engage the subconscious and help keep us focused on what needs to be done. Highly successful sales people have far too much going on to try and keep all the things they must do in their head.
  5. Schedule your time in chunks. When planning your day schedule your time by blocking out important things first on your calendar. After the important chunks are blocked out go back and plug in the less important items. Be sure to plug in time for returning phone calls and planning.
  6. Make use of idle time. Turn off the radio and turn your vehicle into a rolling university by listening to audio programs during commute time and driving to and from sales appointments. Carry reading material with you at all times and make use of the minutes that you now waste when you have to wait.
  7. Minimize unplanned time. Learn to discipline yourself by living by a routine and schedule. Leave little to chance and schedule everything including leisure time. Doing this eliminates stress, makes you more focused and productive and most of all gives you peace of mind.

Ben Franklin said it best when he said, “Do not squander time — it is the stuff life is made of.”

The day of accounting will come and you will look back on your life and either be glad you managed your time well or you will regret that you did not.

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