Do you ever feel like there must be another way? Another way to do things more effectively and efficiently? There almost always is. The amount of time lost to inefficiency or ineffectiveness can be huge. We asked our coaches what their favorite Productivity Tips were that help them make the most of their time so they can do more with less.
Read below for our favorite tips:
Crisis Management and Prioritization
How to Break Out of Overwhelm:
Do a Brain Dump. List everything right now that you feel like you have to do, everything that is on your mind. Now split up your list. Put everything into 2 columns, what you can control and what you can’t control.
- Focus on the things you can control.
- Pick one thing off that list you can get done immediately and start there.
- Once finished, go back to the list of things you can control and ask, which item on the list would have the greatest impact if I could solve it?
- Identify one thing you can do immediately with that item. Focus small. Change happens gradually and then suddenly. Identify one small thing you can do that will move the needle forward in that area.
Making Sense of the Chaos:
As business owners, we often find ourselves running around putting out fires. This ultimately creates unnecessary chaos in our businesses and daily lives. Utilizing the “right now” strategy below will allow you to get out of the chaos and be more intentional at changing the course of your business. Very few things in business are actually “right now” things. Most things need to happen at some point during the day or before the week is over. Larger projects tend to be items that need to happen this month or this quarter, and some things just need to happen before the end of the year.
The “Right Now” Strategy:
To help you prioritize and get out of the chaos, categorize your to-do list daily. Ask yourself the following question for every item on your list:
- Is this a today thing? (meaning it needs to get completed before the day ends)
- Is this a this week thing? (meaning it needs to happen by end of business day Friday)
- Is this a this month thing? (meaning does it need to happen by the end of the month)
- Is this a this quarter thing? (meaning does it need to happen before the end of the quarter)
- Is this a this year thing? (meaning that it needs to be completed by year-end).
When You Need Help Prioritizing:
Your ability to prioritize will determine how successful you are in reaching your goals. Not everything you do matters equally. Use the Eisenhower box (below) to help you identify your priorities. Categorize everything on your to-do list.
- High Importance/High Urgency: Tackle these tasks first.
- High Importance/Low Urgency: Set deadlines for completion and fit these tasks into your daily routine.
- Low Importance/High Urgency: Find quick, efficient ways to get these tasks done with minimal personal involvement and time. If possible, delegate them.
- Low Importance/Low Urgency: If these tasks can be eliminated, then get rid of them. If they can be delegated, then find someone to do them. If you must do them, then schedule a small block of time every week to chip away at them, but never schedule them during your prime time.
Do you need help prioritizing and maximizing your performance? Connect with us today to discuss how our coaches can help you achieve more.
Become More Effective and Efficient With Your Time
Scheduling Crisis Management Time
If you are in the sales business, you are in the people business. If you are in the people business, you are in a dynamic business, not a static business. With that being said, the more productive you become, the more challenges you will face and fires you will need to extinguish. Two killers of productivity are reactive behavior and worry. Remember, architects make more money than firefighters.
Learn to time block crisis management. Depending on your role and the size of your organization, this may be one 30-minute time block a day, or two 60-minute time blocks a day. These blocks are set in your calendar and their only purpose is to handle problems. Have one block in the morning and one block in the afternoon. As problems arise, you’ll have the confidence that you already have the time to handle them. Furthermore, you will be able to communicate resolution to your client and/or teammate. Let’s say your blocks are from 11:00 -12:00 and 3:00 – 4:00. When 11:00 comes around, you have one small issue to resolve that takes you 15 minutes. You will use the remaining 45 minutes to pursue client acquisition. At 12:30, you receive a text message about a deal going south. You respond with, “Thanks for letting me know. I am currently tied up, however, I’ll get back to you by 3:30. Please shoot me an email with anything that will assist in clarifying and resolving the issue. We will get to the other side of this.”
Get Efficient with Email
Just some email facts to think about. According to Statista, there are 244.5 email users in the United States and 50% check their personal accounts more than 10 times a day! In 2020, there were 306.4 billion emails sent every day. Harvard Business Review has identified that the average business professional, which is our client here at YPP, checks their email every 37 minutes, which is 15 times a day, yet only responds to about 25% of the emails received.
Stop for a moment and think about how much time you lost last week getting sucked in to your inbox seduced by an email that redirected your work focus to a shopping focus, exploratory focus, or other avenue that pulled you from moving closer towards your business goals. It happens to the best of us. Finding ways to become more efficient with emails can dramatically increase your productivity.
- Only open up your email IF you have time to read and respond to your email. If you glance over an email with the intention of responding later, you will need to re-read the email, which is an inefficient use of your time. If you’re concerned about missing an urgent email, train people to text you regarding important emails by letting them know that you are responding to emails twice daily and anything that requires an immediate response should be alerted by text. This can also be on your autoresponder.
- We have a great client at Your Performance People, Anna Kilinski, CEO of Anna K Intown, who uses an autoresponder with the subject line, “We’ve received your email” and the following language: “Hi! Thanks for reaching out! I may be out in the field so let’s make sure you’re being taken care of in the meantime. If you need more immediate assistance…” (then she lists every position on her team by role, what they handle, and how to connect with them). She ends the autoresponder with “We look forward to helping you at our earliest opportunity. Thank you for your patience”. Anna K Intown receives 200+ emails on a daily basis.
- For example, our President, Kate Patulski, will often say to people “as an Executive Coach working with high-performing salespeople and teams, along with developing coaches, I am often on the phone or in a zoom meeting. If you send me something that needs immediate attention, text me. This will alert me to review your email at my earliest opportunity, otherwise, I review email twice daily and will get back to you within the day of receipt.”
- Shorten your email responses. It’s estimated that the average business professional receives 90 emails a day and spends 1/3 of their work time reading, organizing and thinking about how to respond to emails. The reality, however, is only 24% of emails are actually getting a response. The optimal length of an email response or request is 5 sentences. Follow an email format such as: Who you are, what you want, why you want it, and when you need it by. Always start by acknowledging with a Good Morning, Good Afternoon, and end with Thank you for your time, Thank you for trusting me/us with your business, It’s our pleasure to serve you or something else that leaves the receiver feeling good about the potential of a relationship or preservation of the relationship.
- Hire a VA or pay a teenager to go through your email daily. You’ve probably already noticed the number of emails that come in your inbox that have nothing to do with your business, your personal development, or a direct relationship with you. Virtual Assistants are inexpensive and can go through your email daily deleting non-essential emails, removing you for email campaigns that bring no value to you, and organizing or tagging emails that need your immediate attention.
Learn to Disqualify Leads:
As a business professional, it is very likely that you’ll need customers in order to experience organizational success and growth. We’ve found from coaching for 25+ years that salespeople avoid client acquisition activities. It’s been estimated more than 40% of salespeople say that prospecting is the most challenging part of the sales process. HubSpot research determined that 50% of prospects might not be a good match for what you sell or may not actually be motivated to buy at this time.
Here’s what we’ve found. A salesperson finds what they determine to be a lead. Because they avoid the lead generation process, they hold on to the lead and continue to work the lead convincing themselves it’s just a matter of time. All the while, contracts are written every day in their market by other agents. Their productivity has nothing to do with their talent and everything to do with their habits. Learning to disqualify leads is key to increasing performance, productivity, and profitability.
- When speaking with a prospective client, dig deep to identify their pain point and use this pain point as leverage. A consumer’s pain point is the real reason they are making a buying decision. Keep in mind, if you are a real estate agent, even a seller is making a buying decision; they are buying your services. In any market, the consumer’s motivation has to be greater than their fear or inconvenience of making a move.
- Once you’ve set an appt., either face-to-face or virtually, pre-qualify your appt. Prequalifying is simply utilizing a series of questions to further understand your prospect, their motivation, and build your sales strategy. Anytime you sit in front of an unqualified prospect, you are jeopardizing your income.
- Learn how to redirect your prospect in a way that maintains a nurturer relationship: “It sounds to me based on our conversation, that buying at this time is an option not your priority . . . did I get that right? What would have to happen that would make this your priority? Why don’t we do this . . . let’s circle back in 30 days, examine where you are, and determine the next step. In the meantime, I am going to (give them something or send them something to keep them engaged with your brand). Hey, before we hang up, it wouldn’t surprise me if you had someone in your immediate world that has been thinking about making a move . . . who do you know that I should know?”
A Strategy For Constant Interruptions:
Ask people to text you their requests, then leave your texts unread and schedule a text review twice a day. This lets you respond to urgent texts while keeping the important ones front and center so that you can get them onto your schedule.
Hit The Day Running With Intention and Purpose:
Do you want to be as productive as possible? This simple productivity routine will set you up for consistent, productive days. It’s based on the premise that “the day starts the night before”. Take time in the evening to review your schedule for the next day and organize what you need to maximize your appointments and meetings. I recommend setting aside a few minutes before and after each meeting. There’s nothing more unproductive than looking for something important for a meeting and struggling to find it at the last minute. Take some time every morning to set a goal or intention. This will keep you focused and ensure that you are moving the needle. Also, since how you perform tomorrow is impacted by how much sleep you get and what you eat and drink, be mindful that your night activities set you up to be productive the next day.
Create A Morning Routine:
Have a strong morning routine. Wake up early and take some time for yourself before you start checking your phone/email/texts. Dedicate your time before 9 am to get centered. Your morning routine will look different depending on what is important to you. Some people make sure they workout, others meditate. We recommend reviewing your schedule and your goals before you start your day. Once you check your phone/email/texts you can easily be caught up in the whirlwind of the day-to-day. By taking time for you and your goals you are guaranteeing that all of your important tasks get handled instead of just jumping from problem to problem.
Make Effective Decisions:
Think before you act! Utilize the Carpenter’s Rule; “ Measure twice, cut once”. The balance between making a decision and delaying one is delicate. We can often make a quick decision and then spend needless time cleaning up the collateral damage. If you’ve ever fired out a quick emotionally based email response that wasn’t taken well, you know what we mean. Being intentional by using thoughtful action leads to more effective decisions.
When making a decision, ask yourself:
- Who will this impact?
- What will the impact be emotionally, financially?
- Should I get a different perspective from someone else?