1.5: The Path to Efficiency
Although we may talk about managing time and attending time management workshops, we need to realize that we cannot really manage time; we can only manage ourselves. We cannot add more hours into a day, nor can we rearrange the time that is available to us each day.
In this lesson, we will share a new way to look at time management. We will also offer a few tips that can maximize your efficiency. You will also have an opportunity to choose one area to begin improvement on to get you on the path to efficiency.
The Path to Efficiency
Since we can make some significant inroads with improving our efficiency by managing ourselves, let’s talk about things we can do so that we manage our own time.
There are people who attend time management sessions and return to work prepared to schedule themselves even more efficiently. Compare this to people who return feeling overwhelmed at the work they have to do, and so they do not get started at all. Make sure you are in the group that sees the benefits and takes reasonable steps to effect change. Don’t think that you have to do it all at once!
Even if the professional sales person just puts one or two ideas into practice, they can become much more effective than they have ever been. One of the things that can perhaps get in the way of managing our own time is that there are so many tools and gadgets available for us today.
Here are the main tips that we recommend. As stated earlier, applying just one or two of these techniques can really supercharge your results. The potential is then there to apply more techniques as time goes on and make your results even greater.
Get rid of all that clutter! Purge your office area (and car, if that’s cluttered too) and get things organized. This is the task that often overwhelms people, especially those who take comfort from having all their “stuff” nearby. This includes organizing and backing up your computer files. We spend an inordinate amount of time looking for things when our workspace is not organized (just like we do at home when we can’t find our favorite shirt or pair of socks).
Use a Master Calendar.
Combine your work and home calendars so that you are on top of all activities and don’t have to check multiple calendars in order to know where you should be. Make sure you can access them from all the places you go, not just your computer that is on your desk at work. There are lots of programs that can help you coordinate this.
Prioritize your task list. Use a numbering or lettering system and be dedicated to working on items at the top of your list so that they do not get neglected.
If you are on your computer a lot (i.e. doing a lot of phone sales), consider using dual computer screens. This allows you to work on one document on one screen while you have your priority list open on the other. If you don’t cover up your priority list, you are more likely to keep on track.
Change your e-mail habits. We have become accustomed to constant e-mail interruption, which is actually hampering our productivity. Although some of you will bristle at this suggestion, we recommend that you try it for a two week period: check your e-mail just twice a day. (I like first thing in the morning and after lunch.) Responses that will take you more than 10 minutes (because of research needed, for example) should be moved to your task list and assigned a priority, so that your e-mail inbox doesn’t get cluttered. E-mails that you can answer quickly can be replied to right away.