By Bruce Keith
Leadership trainer Tim Milburn works with students to help them move into life purposefully and effectively. He recently published a blog identifying 10 common distractions that get in the way of productivity and efficiency.
It is a good list. By my definition, a distraction is anything that gets in the way of what you initially intended to accomplish. I have taken his top 10 and added some thoughts on how to overcome these as they apply to the business of sales. Here are some ideas to help you make that journey profitable:
1. Unstructured time. For the important tasks, “make an appointment” in your day to ensure they get done. Set yourself up for success.
2. Lack of deadlines. Put a deadline on each task. When do you intend to have it completed?
3. Lack of a plan. Don’t play “whack-a-mole”. Stop reacting to everything that pops up. Stick to doing what you said you were going to do.
4. Doing it all yourself. Get your ego out of the way and get help for the things that others can do. No need to be all things to all people.
5. Perfectionism. Remember that “progress, not perfection” is the goal. Keep moving forward.
6. Pinball urgency. Avoid answering every single telephone call, email and third-party request as soon as they arrive. Take control and push back sometimes.
7. Open door policy. Sometimes you need to lock yourself away. Don’t let people get in your space. What’s urgent for them doesn’t necessarily have to be urgent for you.
8. Always in touch. Set aside times to check phone messages and emails during your day. It may seem too structured but it sure beats the alternative.
9. Too much technology. In this world of “instant gratification” it’s often best to literally turn off your cell phone and your computer. Stop resisting this idea – it wasn’t even an issue 20 years ago.
10. Too many meetings. Avoid the unnecessary. If it doesn’t get you where you want to go for your personal and business goals, question whether you should even bother getting involved. Diminish the social aspect of your day.
Salespeople have a tough job staying on task. One of the main reasons for that dilemma is because you really don’t have anyone looking over your shoulder telling you what to do. By definition, commissioned sales is a very unstructured profession. You decide who you’re going to call on, you decide when you’re going to do it and you decide what you’re going to let interrupt you in the midst of all that planning. The key is to stay focused on your priorities, not someone else’s. Sometimes you just need to step back, take a deep breath and ask yourself, “What is it I wanted to accomplish today?” If what you’re doing right now is not serving that purpose, it is a distraction. Eliminate the distractions and increase your results. They definitely go hand-in-hand. No excuses.