It’s Only Common Sense: Being Productive is Easier than you Think


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I read recently that the average person’s workday is spent doing less than an hour of productive work; personally, I think that might be optimistic. The rest of the time we are in meetings, talking to people about nothing in particular, checking e-mails, texting, planning for the Friday night bash at the microbrewery, doing reports about projects we finished weeks ago, or just plain goofing off.

And that doesn’t count the time we just spend thinking about stuff.  Actually, thinking might be considered a productive use of time if you’re thinking about the right stuff, but more about that later. If you are content to just allow the days flow by with nothing really getting done, or doing the bare minimum, you’re probably not alone.

It’s time to stop this insanity and start putting some direction in your life. Time to start having a purpose and yes, even a passion for getting things done!

Why do you say this is not possible? You say that if you had it your own way, to do what you want with your time, instead of spending your days in the hands of others, you would get things done. I don’t believe you, because when you think about it, you are the master of your domain. You can spend your time much more efficiently if you put your mind to it. In the end, it is really up to you.

So, start being more productive with your time today by removing the tasks that are not dictated by someone else. For example, let’s look at the salesperson on the road, someone who has the greatest freedom of all. When she gets up in the morning she can decide exactly how she is going to spend her day. Now, that part of the job certainly has its advantages, and with proper planning a good salesperson on the road can achieve a great deal of productive work. Here’s how you can do exactly what our salesperson does:

First, plan your days ahead of time. Get in the habit of laying out your work week, and do so two weeks ahead of time. Make those appointments with the tactical scrutiny and planning of a U.S. Army general. Make sure you have an equal number of calls with potential customers and current customers. If you have a very large territory, make sure that you take geography into consideration. This is particularly important when your territory is so large that flying is involved. Plan your days and your weeks accordingly.

Next, work on those actual live meetings. Make sure you have an agenda, with a strategic meeting plan. This is not as complicated as it sounds. It simply means knowing what you want to do, say, and accomplish in the meeting, including what you expect in return. That’s it.

Use your time wisely after the meeting is finished. Write a summary of what happened at the meeting and what actions have to be taken. Send this summary to the people you met with; this will help advance the process to the next step and wrap everything up in a neat package, thus moving the sales ball to the next level in the process.

Between meetings, be sure to allow adequate time for everything else you must accomplish to do your job properly. Spend an hour or so every day scheduling future appointments, prospecting online for new leads, and researching your existing customers to learn everything you can about them. Remember, the better informed you are, the better your performance as a sales professional will be.

The great advantage of being on your own as a salesperson is that you can expect fewer interruptions than you would encounter in an office. In many way, you are in business for yourself. Being on the road today also means utilizing all of the wonderful tools to increase your productivity.  From your smartphone alone you can find out everything possible about your customers. You can communicate with them through e-mail or texting (only if needed), and you can schedule appointments. You can even call them—it is a phone, after all.

And it can all be done while sitting in the front seat of our cars. It’s an amazing time to be a salesperson. The key is to control these devices and not let them control you. Use them for what they were designed to do, and don’t let them become time-wasters.

Finally, spend time thinking— about your customers, your company, and the challenges you face every day. Take a deep breath, get away from all the gadgets and just take a few minutes to think about a problem, or a challenge related to a certain account. Devising a strategy will pay off in the long run, and it’s fairly easy to do; more of us should give it a try sometime.

It’s only common sense.

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