How to Stay Organized (and Efficient!)

Time-Management-Tips-4How are you at organizing your day? Do you find that the “small things” like organizing your office, organizing your laptop, checking in with old customers just to see how they’re doing, distract you from what you know you need to be doing to make more money – i.e., cold call, follow up on leads, call prospects back who are on the fence, etc.?

If you’re like most inside sales reps, then there are many distractions which seem to scream out for your time and attention. There’s checking and responding to emails, organizing your calling campaign and leads, keeping your leads and notes together and up to date in Salesforce, calling on existing customers to follow up on sales, there’s meetings, social network research, etc. And on top of all that, when it’s finally time to prospect for new business, there’s that dang organizing again!

And on top of all of that (or perhaps at the bottom of it all), there’s the real dread of making those outbound prospecting calls, you know, call reluctance. So what are you going to do?

You’re going to use the proven time management technique known as “The Top Three Priorities.” Here’s how it works: First, before you go home for the day, make a list and identify the three most important things you need to do the next day to accomplish your most important goal: Making sales. These things might be:

1)   Call the hottest prospects in your pipeline – those most likely to buy that day.
2)   Make a definite number of cold calls to keep your pipeline full.
3)   Follow up with recent orders to upsell them.
4)   Reach a certain number of existing clients to look for upsell opportunities.
5)   Put together proposals or quotes.
6)   Follow up on proposals or quotes.
7)   Check in with prospects or leads in your pipeline
8)   Etc…

Once you’ve picked out the THREE most important things that you can do the next day, again, the three most important things that are going to lead to sales that day, then write these down in order of importance and leave them on your desk for the next morning…

By the way, making this list the night before is crucial as it allows your subconscious mind to begin to devise ways of accomplishing them for you. Whether you know it or believe it or not, what you write down and intend to do sends a powerful message to your subconscious mind, and it will work hard during the evening and night, preparing you to accomplish your goals the next day.

Now here’s the key to the whole process of identifying your “Top Three Priorities”: when you get in the next day, start working on one priority at a time and work it through to completion before you move on to the next one. In other words, resist the temptation to multi-task these three items. As you know, if you begin doing too many things at once, you end up not completing any of them.

The key to this powerful time-management technique is to pick out the most important priority you’ve identified, then complete it and then move on the next one, complete that one, and then move on to the next one and complete that as well. If something comes up – like an inbound customer call, or an urgent email you need to address – then certainly handle that, but then get back to the priority you are working on.

While I know that many other things will vie for your attention, and some of them might even need to be done, sticking with and accomplishing your “Three Top Priorities” will not only make you ultra-efficient, but it will relieve a lot of anxiety for you as well. Let me give you a brief example:

Years ago when I decided to become a full time consultant, I had a lot or work to do on my business. I had to create the website, write all the copy for the pages, create downloadable ebooks for my initial product, find hosting sites, shopping carts, write ezines and create opt in pages and links, deal with my webmaster several times a day, proof all the pages endlessly, and much, much more. While all these projects were crucial for me to begin my consulting practice (and I enjoyed doing them), what I found after a while was that I had stopped doing the things that brought me the capital (money) I needed to pay my mortgage and my webmaster, etc.. In other words, I had stopped cold calling and selling.

The solution to this was to create my “Top Three Priorities” and make sure that I worked through them, one by one, before I responded to my webmaster, before I began proofing pages or writing copy, before I created another web page, etc…

I started by making 35 cold calls each day. I took all the time I needed to make these calls, and only when I was done did I then follow up with any leads I had (priority number two). When I finished that, then I moved on to my next priority – which was to call five people in my network to prospect for work or to get other leads from. Only after I completed all three of these priorities did I dive into my work on the business. And what I found reinforced the importance and effectiveness of this time management technique.

The first benefit was that as I took care of the important and difficult things – like cold calling – I felt a great relief because a big pressure was lifted from me. Second, as I completed the next priority, I gained confidence and hope as I scheduled meetings and moved closer to closing deals. Finally, as I worked through the last priority, I felt a tremendous sense of freedom and accomplishment because I knew that the things that would have nagged at me all day were finally complete. I was now free to handle the other important things guilt free!

Another benefit started showing up as well: I started closing deals and making money. As the saying goes: “Sales solves everything,” and it did indeed make all the work on the business and website so much easier. As I continued to set three priorities and complete them one by one each day, I made significant progress both on my career and on my website. And the rest, as they say, is history.

But it all started by setting and working through each of my three priorities, one by one, before I moved on to all the other important things in my day. If you’re struggling to take back control of your day, then pull out a piece of paper and start writing down your “Top Three Priorities” right now. Remember to organize them around your most important goal for each day: making sales. This one technique is the most important time management strategy I’ve learned, and I guarantee that once you begin using it, you, too, will feel more confident, become more efficient and make more sales.