Every time I ask a group of sales managers what their single biggest challenge is, at least half say “time management.” They describe being inundated with calls, emails, texts, requests from their reps and others outside their department, and on and on.
I talk often about how the skills that make people successful as sales reps can limit their effectiveness as sales managers, and this area is a prime example. When you were a top-performing rep, I bet you bragged about your ability to get a lot done and never drop one of those balls you were juggling, right?
But the truth is that mastering the art of multitasking isn’t necessarily something to be proud of. Studies summarized several years ago in Harvard Business Review indicate that people who “chronically multi-tasked failed to allocate resources in a way that matches their priorities.” Further, the constant interruptions are not good for clear thinking. Here’s what the article said:
• The fractured nature of modern work is a tremendous burden. . . .
• The resulting mental fatigue takes its toll in forms of mistakes, shallow thinking, and impaired self-regulation. . . .
• We go on autopilot and our brains fall back to simply responding to whatever is in front of us, regardless of its importance.”
Simplify Your Day
The solution? Take steps to make sure your day is not quite so fractured, which means managing your time more effectively. To do that you’ll need to identify and address any underlying challenges that cause you to waste time. Are you unorganized (searching for files, not controlling your calendar, etc.)? Do you avoid defining processes and thus have to reinvent the wheel with each new problem)? Are you a reactive fire-fighter instead or a proactive leader?
If being organized is an issue, here are five basic steps that will hopefully get you started on a less-fractured life:
Collect: List and define everything you think you should be doing. If the action item requires less than two minutes of effort, just do it. If it is trash, trash it.
Organize: Sort the remaining items by response time or category, delegate what you can, and store non-actionable items (as data in your CRM tool, for example).
Prioritize: Look at anything that’s made it through the first two filters and decide which is the number one priority (in my mind, it should be something related to developing your team!).
Implement: Create an action plans for the #1 priority. Make decisions about implementation, tools to use, and resources required. Work those plans.
Review and update: Continue to update your lists with new info, ideas, changes, etc.