Home > Personal Development > Whats your secret?

Whats your secret?

With '08 around the corner, one of my resolutions is to be waaaay more organized, and I was hoping that some you time-management experts could share some pointers on the system that works best for you.

How do you stay on top of your to do list?
What are your daily or weekly disciplines?
Do you find that ol' note and pad is best? - by klozer
Time management is something to consider, isn't it. What is it, why isn't it done well, what does it mean to get organized and for what reasons? Certain things I do daily I never have to apply any kind of time management or getting organized methods to doing BECAUSE I love doing them and do them naturally every day without having to decide to do them.

For example, I pick up one of my guitars and play on it for an hour a day or so. I never plan for it - I just do it. I study something I'm interested in for two or three hours a day - again, no planning.

Okay, every day I know in advance I'm going to play on a guitar, study, and spend two hours hiking in the PM and thirty to sixty minutes exercising in the PM - things I do because I love doing them.

Each - not studying as that's always come naturally - had to take some time for me to get around to doing daily. What caused that was an initial contact with 1. guitar and 2. exercise which I enjoyed. Next came developing a habit based on wanting to accomplish something - call it a goal or vision. Tens of thousands of repetitions produced habits embedded in my life now.

Take what you've done similiarly now integrated into your life for pleasure - you'll find much the same progression turned habit. BUT how to take business - sales/marketing/etc. and better manage time and get organized to be more successful. AND why aren't those things being done and fully integrated now into your life already (generic question for everyone) like those other things which bring pleasure?

My business today is also fully integrated into my life as were my first two careers.

How do you stay on top of your to do list? I keep to do notes in front of me at all times and I execute them between 11:00 AM and 4:00 PM for the most part

What are your daily or weekly disciplines? I read my notes, make calls, make contacts and jot down the results.

Do you find that ol' note and pad is best? Yea, a note pad and some 4 x 6 cards.

MitchM - by MitchM
The main challenge with personal development seminars and sales training events or materials is retention.

There are many small specialized personal development groups who propose and sell experiential learning. They will - for instance - take a business team that needs to work better together and take them on a wilderness canoe trip for 4 days, where they must work together to survive. Then each day, after dinner, the leader will ask how the things they did today apply to what they do at work. And then ask what plans could be created to have the team be more efficient? This works extremely well and I have led these groups personally.

The theory is that we retain much more of what we do than what we see, hear or read. Quite right. Another theory is if we continue to hear or see materials again and again we retain new information at a much higher rate than single exposure, also quite right. It is because of lack of retention and lack of repetition that one time live training events are not very effective in developing new values within a sales person.

This knowledge, when applied to sales, becomes an action plan of repeating the training regularly, then applying it daily. A system that made Earl Nightingale one of the greatest achievers and trainers of all time ... by the way, it was his work more than 50 years ago, that was the actual inspiration for The Secret.

Take - again for example - the Back to the Future with Sales by J. Douglas Edwards, edited/narrated by Tom Hopkins, now available from Top Hopkins organization. Listen to those CD's daily in the car for one month. Apply each skill as you feel you have grasped it from listening over and over again to Edwards explaining it on the CD, then you will be using repetition to increase retention of what you hear and experiential learning to further work it into the thread of who you are or will become.

I caution you though. There are many sources of information that are inferior and misleading. The internet is fraught with them and I would not waste your time just because something was well marketed and became an overnight best seller. The time tested training is the best (like that I mentioned or what you can get from Huthwaite, Earl Nightingale, Dale Carnegie - not his organization but the stuff Dale did himself).

Lastly, the use of training repetition must be done in non productive time. As with using a resource like salespractice.com, you should not be logging in here from work or home-office during prime time, which I see too many doing!

Listen to information in your car, by all means. Apply what you are learning every day, for goodness sake. But don't get caught up in putting aside productive time that could be used for experiential leaning to sales skills research and forum participation.

Best of luck, both today and in the future, with whatever it is you decide to do! - by Gold Calling
Excellent pointers!

Any others care to share their method for the madness?

Thanks - by klozer
With '08 around the corner, one of my resolutions is to be waaaay more organized, and I was hoping that some you time-management experts could share some pointers on the system that works best for you.

How do you stay on top of your to do list?
What are your daily or weekly disciplines?
Do you find that ol' note and pad is best?
I keep a to-do list with me at home and work to remind me of what I need to get done. The ol' note and pad works good for me. - by Houston
Daily Organization - the next day's ToDo list - is something that takes 20 minutes each day. Do it after 5 PM!

And only handle paper once, file it forward for your next step in the action plan. sorting and resorting papers is not efficient. - by Gold Calling
Time is the ONLY dynamic over which we have no control. With this in mind, time management must be viewed as a key tool for successful sales-types. The more complex the selling cycle, the more intensified the need.

It begins with a process of quantifying the time available. This time of year, most SRs believe that they have 365 days to hit their numbers. They do NOT. Best case, there are in the order of 220 days to get it done! Accordingly, you need to define what "it" is and what tactics need to be in-place to achieve success in the time available.

There are 3 basic elements which are fundamental:
1. time analysis:
a) taking into account the total number of days/month which are actually available to your for business (ie. allowing for week-ends, statutory holidays, meetings, vacations, etc.); and,
b) with allowance for administration of the mandate; and,
c) realistically allowing for the unforeseen (eg. sick leave);
2. planning:
a) after having quantified the actual number of actual days available to meet your targets, the "process of planning" involves starting with the corporate goals & corporate mission statement;
b) each sales unit then generates a set of SMART objectives * ... from these obj's, each SR can identify tactics in support of the sales unit's obj's;
c) the "planning process" requires that goals & obj's be indentified in terms of both short & long term;
d) priorities must be identified and all resources analyzed;
e) from this activity, a monthly action plan can be generated which include "goal-directed action steps" and a daily diary;

* SMART objectives are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results-oriented, & Time sensitive:
1. Specific, observable results: what do I want to accomplish? when to I want to accomplish it? how will I know that I have accomplished it?
2. Realistic & challenging: will I have to put forth a special effort to achieve it? can I work toward it with come confidence of success?
3. Inspiring commitment: is the reward which I will get important to me?

To answer your questions directly:
1. my to do's are captured in my Time Systems binder (my bible) which is augmented with Outlook calendar;
2. I'm not a believer in daily/weekly disciplines but, that having been said, I'm religious on the admin-side because so many people rely on the numbers, so, I do daily updates but include a snap-shot to period-end by SR;

The question about the old note pad might be dating you but I've personally found that the technology can't keep up with the reality of a SRs life. My Time Systems binder opens with the corporate "elevator pitch" then has monthly calendar info, followed by team info, and account info in the back.

I hope this helps.

Good luck & Good selling!
Pat - by OUTSource Sales
I think you first need to find the right tool. For me, I don't like a pad and paper, as it's too cumbersome, too inflexible, and too limited. I would recommend a task list as in Outlook or Goldmine or ACT, and syncing it with a PDA or smartphone so you have your to-do list with you all the time. I'd truly be lost without my smartphone and my contact management software. I add to my task list throughout the day whether I'm in my office, at home, or traveling. I can add items or check items off as they get completed. Using these tools, you can prioritize your various tasks and even set due dates.

The other crucial criteria, which Gold Calling touched on, is that staying organized requires daily maintenance. If you will spend 15-30 minutes a day maintaining your system, you will exponentially save time. Many people start a "get organized" campaign, only to be swallowed up by it because they haven't put in the daily time to keep it purring along. "Getting organized" is different that "staying organized" and your goal should be "Staying organized" in my opinion.

I hope that helps. Good luck in '08! - by Skip Anderson
What comes first is the "planning process". Simply put, it really doesn't matter how you capture your 'To-Do' list, if you haven't clearly identified a process.

Most recently, I was using a Blackberry and I had one of the original hand-held organizers as well as a myriad of tools in between. But, whatever the technological period, when I looked around me, what I saw was people using tools ... not following a plan.

I've managed SRs with Blackberry's who had difficulty managing their calendar because they'd forgotten to make an entry during a luncheon meeting.

Whereas, I always duplicated the entry:
1. Time Systems binder (which I took everywhere); then,
2. Blackberry (or PDA whatever at-the-time);

It would be interesting to see statistics on how many Blackberry's fall into toilets! I've had mine lock-up entirely while on my way to the office to the point that it took 'til mid-morning with IT to resolve. In these examples (where you're not at your laptop), what's the back-up?

Are we all absolutely certain that the SR with his head down, clicking on his Blackberry isn't actually missing the client's reaction? Note-taking in Time Systems is done while maintaining eye contact with the client.

The bottomline: SRs need to buy-into a planning process which accurately portrays the amount of time actually available to acheive their objectives.

This is the perfect time of year to get started!

Good luck & Good selling!
Pat - by OUTSource Sales
I don't know what kind of business you are in, but the contact manager I use in my Send Out Cards system really has helped me be organized. I also set up a second hotmail account. When I get a new lead, I plug in the contact information; that way I can search leads in chonological order by keyword when a new vehicle comes in. It really helps me.


aka. FollowUpMaster - by FollowUpMaster
Thanks to all who've posted. Great stuff!

Anyone use any time management systems with success, whether it be Franklin-Covey, David Allen, Anthony Robbins, or the like? - by klozer
We use 3 x 5 index cards.
Each project listed on a card and taped along the top of a wall. All of the tasks are below each project (on a card) going down below. We work the wall all of time, removing cards when we are completing something, adding cards for new projects/tasks as needed. also helps you SEE what is going on -- are you doing too much?? - by CourageCrafter
We use 3 x 5 index cards.
Each project listed on a card and taped along the top of a wall. All of the tasks are below each project (on a card) going down below. We work the wall all of time, removing cards when we are completing something, adding cards for new projects/tasks as needed. also helps you SEE what is going on -- are you doing too much??
Great tip Courage Crafter! I like that. I could definitely see that working on projects.

I dont believe I'm doing too much, but it seems that regardless of todo lists, I seem to easily veer off into sidebar projects or tasks that take me off track... could just be my own self-discipline. - by klozer
Klozer, whichever tool you choose, remember that it's not the tool it's the process which makes it effective.

If it works, you'll use it!

Also, remember that you MUST work within the time which is actually available to you. As an illustration, in Canada, we've just been provided another statutory holiday (Feb. 18th). The implication: we now have in the order of 219 business days available to us each year ... BEST CASE!

With 13 days gone in January, that means you should be targeting 206 days to over-achieve plan! Planning in this fashion, you should find it easier to identify what can "reasonably" get done.

When I'd speak to the team on this topic, I'd invariably see everyone's plans running overboard. They simply can't say 'no' but, with time being a immovable dynamic, it becomes clear when you overlay 240 days of effort on a calendar which now has ONLY 206 days available. AND, this number assumes your prospects vacation align with yours!!

Revisit your planning process to ensure that you incorporate the above approach.

Good luck & Good selling!
Pat - by OUTSource Sales
What have you done to keep organized and "How's it working for ya?" klozer

MitchM - by MitchM
Grecian Formula!

As long as my hair don't show no grey them chicks dey still dig me.

Wine, women (or men) and song ... is there anything else? Oh, travel! That's it people - the deeper meaning to life, the onion has been peeled back! You read it here first!

The other things that makes sense to me are; repetition in learning - increase retention, then apply what you retained (that is where your meaningful professional growth comes from); use a journal, record your thoughts ... re-read them regularly (do not trust your memory with your best insights) - expose yourself the the motivational greats (these actions are were meaningful personal development growth is stimulated); when it comes to sales training, it has been available in-print and recordings for decades (there is nothing new under the sun).

Only those who are indeed vainglorious actually think they have learned how better to deal with people. - by Gold Calling
Weekly Updates!
Questions and Answers about Selling
Subscribe to our mailing list to get threads and posts sent to your email address weekly - Free of Charge.