Make 25 Percent More Today!
By Jack Mannix
July 16, 2012 11:45 PM
If I were to survey what topics you’d like to see covered in this column, I’m fairly sure that “Making 25 Percent More Profits Today!” would win out over “Organization and Time Management.” But what if they could be one and the same article?
Okay, I admit that organization and time management rank up there with the excitement of watching paint dry, but your skills and your work habits in these areas can have a surprisingly large effect on your bottom line. Without sales, there are no profits, so it’s important to spend the bulk of your day focused on efforts that have a direct impact on selling. Strong organizational skills and discipline will enable you to spend more time selling—and making money!
There are scores of mostly minor and painless changes you can make in your daily life that will free you up. Some sound incredibly basic, but most of us really can improve our time management skills by merely doing them. Here are some suggestions:
Write everything down and do so in a single document: I can still name the members of the Rolling Stones, but I won’t remember to make that follow-up call to John Jones exactly three months from today without some system to remind me. I live out of my “to do” list. It’s a simple Word document but virtually every follow up, big or small, is noted accordingly by date. Every day I only need refer to what must get done today. Multiple papers, electronic files, post-it notes and so on will, at the very least, take more of your time to use and are a recipe for eventual disaster.
Prioritize your daily tasks: Not every item is worthy of the same amount of time every day. “Strategic goal items”—for example, call five prospects today, begin negotiating next year’s co-op—are generally the most important to complete and should take up the most of your time. “Musts” are other responsibilities that are necessary but don’t directly contribute to your bottom line—for example, reconciling bank accounts. These can be time consuming, so be sure they don’t consume your day. Personally, I try to prioritize tomorrow’s tasks at the end of each day so that when I start the next day I already know what I need to achieve. Execute the important and strategic stuff first.
Hold yourself accountable: When you tell your client you’ll get back to them at a certain time, it gives them a finite expectation and something to look forward to. It also establishes a personal sense of urgency to ensure it gets done on time. Even if it doesn’t involve the client directly, making sure you make a commitment to completing that marketing plan for your cruise line business development manager by next Friday will foster a similar sense of urgency. Congratulate yourself when you meet deadlines!
Beware of time wasters: While an email is perhaps the most common communication vehicle we have today, it can be a real distraction. Don’t constantly monitor your inbox. Make it a point to check for email two to four times per day and deal with all of them at once. This habit will allow you to focus on critical, more time-consuming tasks with fewer interruptions and even your most important client will still get a response from you within two to three hours at most. If you’re an active participant in LinkedIn and other groups, don’t devote too much time to these communications since they will have the same effect, however interesting they may be. Watch out for other time wasters as well.
Step back and reflect regularly: By Friday afternoon, I’m usually ready for a break and I’m looking forward to the weekend. It’s a good opportunity to reflect on what’s been accomplished this week and to finalize goals for next week. Devote 30 minutes to this exercise since it does at least two things. First, it enables you to see just how much you’ve done and to congratulate yourself for a productive week. We all need those “atta-boys,” even if self-generated! Second, it forces you to look at the big picture and see what needs to be done next week, perhaps even blocking some time on your calendar for specific efforts that might be time consuming (such as finalizing a marketing launch).
The more organized and disciplined you are in planning and executing your work week, the more time you’ll spend selling. You’ll also have the satisfaction of having accomplished more while adding mightily to your bottom line. Now who said time management couldn’t be exciting?
Jack Mannix, CTC, is head of his own consulting firm, Jack E. Mannix & Associates (www.jackemannix.com). He also serves as chairman of The Travel Institute. You can reach him by emailing email@example.com. This column is adapted from one set to appear in the July 2012 issue of Agent@Home magazine.