Many of you were trained to create to do lists every day. If the list got too long, you were taught to determine what is most important and then to prioritize A1, A2, B1, B2, etc. That system may have worked before we all became very busy and over-worked and our lists got longer and longer.
As a result, many of the things that needed to be done, go unfinished.
There are many reasons for this. Some reasons are totally out of our control. Yet you would be surprised to learn how many times we are the cause for our own lack of accomplishments.
According to research from iDoneThis (a project tracking software provider), almost 67% of professionals write to do lists, yet only 41% of all to do list tasks actually get done.
The Problem with To Do Lists
According to Kevin Kruse, author of 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management, to do lists have three major problems:
They don’t consider how much time a task will take.
To do lists are a great way to do a brain dump about everything we can think of that needs to get accomplished. This is an excellent start. But often that’s as far as it goes. We need to estimate how long each task will take. Without knowing that vital piece of information, we can’t plan accordingly.
They don’t distinguish between which ones need immediate attention and which ones are less important.
Traditional to do lists don’t necessarily distinguish between which ones are critical vs urgent vs important. This information is needed to properly schedule when the tasks need to be completed.
They contribute to stress.
These traditional to do lists that never seem to get shorter add to our tension levels. Just knowing that you have so much unfinished business, drains your energy and often prevents you from accomplishing what’s most important. It actually leads to procrastination.
Suggestions for Improvement
I’ve long been an advocate for the concept of time blocking (see my blog: (http://polarisone.com/blog/help-i-need-to-get-organized-once-and-for-all) My theory is that if you can’t plan what a perfect day looks like on a piece of paper, you have no hope of carrying out in real life.
Before you create that ideal day or week, get really clear on what’s important to you.
What are those key goals that you want to achieve? Each one of your to do’s must support those goals. If not, you’re wasting time.
Once you have that clarity, you can now begin to craft what your idea schedule should look like. Figure out how much time each task needs and then actually block off that time in your real calendar, much as you would an appointment for your best client.
Then show up at the appointed time and work on that task.
Your ideal week should also include both business and non-business activities to help maintain a good work/life balance. (For a sample Ideal Work Week, go to http://polarisone.com/free-book and download my book What Every Great Salesperson Knows, A No Nonsense Guide To Sales Success for free.)
Make Actionable Statements
For an even more powerful approach to getting more of your to do list completed, once you have eliminated the non-essential or non-important items, convert the ones that are left into actionable statements. A well written action statement will take the guesswork out of what you need to do to accomplish it. It should be broken down into manageable small steps that will be easier to check off as complete.
Charlie Gilkey suggests that each action item be written as if you were writing it to someone else. This will make it easier to recall what needs to be done.
Action items should include as much useful information as possible. For example, when does it need to be completed? Does it need to be turned in or forwarded to someone other than you? Once you complete it, do you need to track any next steps? Can the task be assigned to someone else? If so, what background do they need to know?
In other words, tasks that get scheduled in your calendar that are written as action items stand a much greater chance of getting accomplished.
Determine Your Optimal Time of Day
Here’s a secret I learned many years ago. Determine what time or times during the day you are the most productive. Don’t squander that time by doing mundane tasks like checking email or social media. Leverage that time to make a real difference in your personal and business life.
Good luck on your journey to success.
“I’ll get to later.” We’ve all said something like that from time to time. The problem is, the more we say it, the worse it makes us feel. But more than that, if you don’t get it under control, it will limit your success, curb your potential, be the cause of missed opportunities, stress and even feelings of guilt.
Simply stated, procrastination is putting off doing something until a later date. According to Edward Young, “procrastination is the thief of time.” Contrary to what you might think, procrastination is usually NOT related to time management.
So, what does procrastination sound like?
Perhaps you have heard others (or even yourself) say the following:
“I need to get organized before I tackle that project.”
“I need to wait until my prospect gets to work and has time to settle in before I call.”
“I’ll need to set aside a large block of time before I can start that project.”
People who procrastinate subconsciously look for distractions such as checking e-mail, doing paperwork, work on proposals or spend time on nonproductive activities. Reasons for Procrastination
Most of the literature about procrastination states that fear of failure is on the top of the list as the most likely cause of procrastination. Other reasons for procrastination include:
· The task seems hard or difficult to do
· It will take too long to complete
· Don’t know how to do it
· It’s got to be perfect
Strategies to Overcome Procrastination
Recognize that you have the freedom to choose to do what you want to do. While some tasks are more pleasant than others, the choice (and consequences) of doing them or not is yours. Here are some suggestions that have worked for others I've coached in overcoming procrastination.
1. Have realistic expectations of yourself and the task at hand
· Don't under or over estimate how much time a task will take. When in doubt, allow more time not less.
· Start by blocking out a specific amount of time that you will work on the task or project.
2. Don’t worry about “finishing it” right now. Focus on “starting it.”
3. Do the hard or difficult tasks first.
· Get them out of the way early. You'll feel great checking them off as completed.
4. Break it down into a series of smaller tasks or steps.
· It's a cinch by the inch and hard by the yard.
· By taking a step at a time, you'll be making progress.
· Track your progress. Each step you mark off as completed will give you a sense of satisfaction and the encouragement to continue.
· It’s OK to devote as little as 5 – 15 minutes at a time to the task or project
5. Reward yourself for putting in the incremental time.
· Even just a pat on the back is enough.
6. Delegate tasks wherever possible.
· Only do those tasks that only you can do, delegate the rest.
7. Ask a trusted friend or associate to help keep you on track by checking your progress.
· Being accountable to someone else goes a long way in helping to get things done.
8. Keep a balance to your life. Work, play, have fun.
· By only focusing on the problem, you make it worse.
9. Take the time to recharge
· Figure out what works best for you and just do it. It will help you to regain much needed perspective and renewed energy.
10. Embrace the self-suggestion, “Do it Now.”
Discard the attitude, "I'll get to it when I get to it." To make great strides with your procrastination problem you have to adopt a sense of urgency. This attitude is contagious. It spills over to both your staff and your clients. This can have a dramatic effect on your bottom line.
The more tasks that are put off to tomorrow, the less of a chance there is to complete them. I hope you will be able to apply some of these strategies to reduce or even eliminate your procrastination. Realize that procrastination is caused by some form of pain or unpleasantness that is associated with the task at hand. Turn that pain to pleasure by rewarding yourself for beginning the task. Celebrate your progress and forward motion.
As Lord Chesterfield said to his son;
“Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it. No idleness, no laziness, no procrastination; never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.”
Good luck on your journey to success.
Are you on track for achieving all that you intended to achieve in your business this year?
Reflect on this: Way back in January, what were the business goals you set for the year?
Whatever they were, one of two things happened: you are either on target to accomplish them, or you are not.
If you are on track, congratulations!!
If you are not, remember one important piece of advice from Dennis Waitley:
"Don't dwell on what went wrong. Instead, focus on what to do next. Spend your energies on moving forward toward finding the answer."
Perhaps it is time to take a more strategic approach to business growth.
Below are 7 things that you can start doing now to help you strategically move your business forward.
1. Vision and Belief
· Vision Achieving goals are not ends in and of themselves; they are only a means to an end. Where do your goals fit into your overall vision or philosophy? This question is critical to answer. What are the consequences of not achieving your goals? What are the rewards and benefits for accomplishing them?
You have to know why you are doing what you are doing. There should be a sense of purpose for your business. What impact do you want to have on your clients? I talk to a lot of people in business and it is rare that they are successful without a clearly defined purpose
· Belief Are your goals something you believe you can accomplish? Belief in the attainment of any goal is a critical requirement in the achievement of that goal. Do whatever is necessary from writing out affirmations to visualization to giving yourself rewards for incremental progress.
2. Review and Assess
Review the goals and objectives you set for yourself at the beginning of the year. Are you on track to achieve them? Review each one and determine the strengths and weaknesses of each component part. Once completed, decide if that particular goal is still something you want to or need to achieve. Be realistic. You only have a limited time frame to get each goal over the finish line. Create a short list of must be accomplished goals.
3. Strategic Goal Planning
To dramatically increase your chances of achieving your goals, limit the number of goals and write out very precise statements of exactly what you want to accomplish and the exact date it will be accomplished. Then, break that goal down into mini-action steps that have the same amount of specificity as the goal itself. The more specific and measurable each step is the better.
4. Avoid Obstacles
Determine what obstacles might stand in the way of achieving your goal. What potential problems can you see on the horizon? Develop plans and processes to determine and overcome the obstacles that will prevent you from successfully achieving each goal or action step.
5. Schedule the Time
Goal achievement takes time. Create an ideal schedule that carves out an ample amount of time for each goal activity and then stick to it. First, create the ideal schedule on paper. Next, transfer it to whatever calendaring system you are using. Be sure to account for each and every activity that is required for you to achieve your goal.
6. Keep Score
Review and track your progress every day. Every morning and evening review what you have accomplished that has moved you one or more steps closer to achieving your goals. If no progress was made, determine why and how to do better tomorrow. Don’t be afraid to revise, fine tune, or totally recycle goals as necessary. A particular goal may have sounded good at the time you wrote it out, but if it no longer resonates with you, throw it out. Keeping a goal that you have no strong emotional intention to accomplish drains your energy and takes away from accomplishing your other goals.
Celebrate your victories, no matter how big or small along the way. Enjoy the successful accomplishment of each milestone. This positive reinforcement will keep your energy and enthusiasm high.
I sincerely hope that by implementing these ideas you will have more successes to celebrate at year-end. When you look at the big picture, isn’t it really the sum total of all of the “little” steps we take that make such a big difference in our lives and businesses?
I’d like to close with two quotes from Vince Lombardi, the great football coach. He said,
“Obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off the goal.”
“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.”
The most successful people in business have some things in common. They have mastered and maintained excellent habits and attitudes.
They know what they think and expect and how they direct their energy has absolutely everything to do with their success.
The habits and belief systems that you have right now is a direct reflection on how you are doing in your business.
If you are not happy with where you are now, you can change, reorient yourself and start a new trajectory.
Here are some tips that I hope you will find helpful.
1) Have specific goals
In my coaching practice, I’m continually surprised about how many people just don’t have specific goals accompanied by the action plans needed to achieve them. What’s even more significant, is that too few people who have specific goals don’t have a compelling reason WHY they want to achieve them.
Goals should serve as an inspiration for you to achieve. They should pull you forward. They serve as a starting point. Having specific goals allows you to create a blueprint for how to achieve them. This blueprint contains both the strategies and tactics for how to get there with benchmarks along the way to gauge your progress. These benchmarks will also allow you to make any course corrections that are necessary.
2) Develop your niche
Who is your ideal client? I’m not talking about what personal characteristics they possess or which demographic group they belong to. While it’s important to know those things, you might not be able to leverage those factors to get in front of more qualified prospects.
Niches have three requirements:
- There are enough prospects in your niche to last at least one year.
- The people in your niche have something in common.
- The most critical requirement of a niche is that the members of the niche have enough commonality between and among its members that your reputation can precede you!
The members of the niche should have a formal or informal way to communicate with each other. Ideally, they should meet as a group on a regular basis and that you can be a part of that group. Participate as fully possible. Serve on committees, write articles for their publications, conduct value added workshops or brief presentations. You be surprised how many members of the niche will feel that they know you, even though you may never have met them face to face.
3) Implement a consistent marketing system
Do you have a marketing plan? If so, do you carry it out on a deliberate and regular basis? Here’s a brief checklist of potential marketing activities and actions.
- CRM (Client Relationship Management) – Do you stay in touch with prospects and clients on a regular basis? This also applies to Centers of Influence and other referral sources.
- STRATEGIC ALLIANCES – Have you developed any proactive relationships with other professionals whose clientele matches your ideal client?
- WRITING – Have you or can you write articles that will appear in the places that your target prospect and current clients can see?
- SPEAKING / WORKSHOPS – Can you regularly speak in front of groups or conduct workshops that will attract your ideal prospect? Whenever you can get in front of more than one person at a time is an excellent use of your time.
- NETWORKING – Do you regularly attend appropriate networking events?
4) Get control of your time and practice management
Do you know where you are investing your time? Can you describe what is the highest and best use of your time and currently what percentage of your time do you engage in it?
- DO FIRST THINGS FIRST - Increasing the percent of time you invest in the highest and best use of your time will make a significant difference in your effectiveness and in the achievement of your goals, whatever they may be.
- TIME BLOCK - What many people do to make improvements in this area is to time block. Schedule specific time slots in your daily and weekly calendar to do specific tasks and then have the discipline to stick to doing those things at those times.
- WRITTEN SYSTEMS - The next area to make big gains is to have written systems and processes so that you can become more effective and efficient. They save time and reduce errors. If you find yourself re-inventing the wheel or solving the same problem repeatedly, this strategy will yield big dividends.
5) Surround yourself with effective teams
You can only grow so much working solo. At some point, you need to get help in order to continue to progress. For some, it means hiring your first assistant. For others who may already have help, it’s how can your team be more effective.
I have a system that many of my clients use called Most Important Objectives (MIOs) and Expectations, Standards, and Sources. It lays out in very specific terms what needs to get done, how it should be accomplished, and how will you know it was accomplished in that way. Here’s the gist of it. MIOs clearly define:
- Roles and responsibilities
- What needs to get done (expectations) and how it is to be accomplished (standards)
- Procedures and processes
- Measures of success
The key to the system is meet on a very regular basis to review and discuss both the achievement of the expectations and any obstacles that may be preventing their accomplishment.
No matter where you are in your business, there is always room for improvement. When you constantly try to improve your skill set, attitudes and habits become more effective. When you become more effective, the more successful you will be.
Good luck on your journey to success.
We have all been there. I hear it all of the time from the salespeople I talk to.
We make professional sales presentations to well qualified prospects and then face rejection and disappointment.
I hear…..Why does this keep happening? What am I doing wrong? What am I not doing?
Sales have always been one of the most difficult, challenging professions, and it is more complex today than ever before. Learning to bounce back and respond constructively to setbacks in your business will be one of the most important determining factors to your success.
Here are some suggestions you can use to cope with sales rejection, stay positive, overcome adversity and get back on top of your game.
- Don’t take it personally. Really. Not everyone needs or wants what you are selling, even though you are convinced that what you are proposing will be helpful to your prospect. You are going to hear a lot of “no’s”. It is all part of the selling process. It is part of your reality as a salesperson and it is not personal at all. It is just the way it goes for even the most successful sale professional. Often rejection is due to poor timing. What is a “no” today can be a “yes” at another time.
- Keep your sales funnel full. Always focus attention on creating your ideal customer profile and systematically grow your list. Keep your funnel full in good times and in bad. This all by itself will change everything. The more contacts that you have in your target market, the more prospects you will have and the bigger your pipeline will be. Greater opportunities will help you to keep a healthy perspective on rejection.
- Know your sales ratio. Knowing what to expect helps a great deal. You understand that you will need to give a certain number of sales presentations to make one sale. Don’t forget this. By knowing what the numbers are, youwill be able to anticipate the business flow and you may not get as discouraged if you know how much to expect. Pay attention to you sales rates to help estimate how many rejections to expect before you make a sale.
- Acknowledge your accomplishments. Keep track of your achievements. Keep a success journal. Write down everything you feel proud about in your life and career. Write in your success journal on a daily basis. When you're having a bad day, open your success journal and read previous entries to help get you back into a positive.
- Take good care of yourself. Eat well, exercise and get adequate rest. No matter how busy you are during a day, find the time to eat a balanced diet, to exercise (even if it's just a walk around the block), and to get enough sleep each night to allow you to feel rested and refreshed. The better you feel about yourself the more positive you're going to be. As a result, you'll have a much easier time dealing with any obstacles that may come your way. Participate in activities that bring you joy and fulfillment. The best way to do this is to schedule those activities just as you would an appointment with a client.
- Develop relationships with successful people. These should be people you can trust and on whom you depend. Ask them for advice and feedback on how they would respond to similar challenges. Is there someone in your office that you would like to emulate? How about a successful client? Another way to do this is to create a personal board of directors and meet with them once or twice a year. You may also want to join or start a study group with like-minded colleagues. Such a study group will allow you to share ideas and to glean inspiration from each other. Like-minded individuals will also have a much easier time relating to your thoughts and feelings and vice-versa.
- Know that you will succeed no matter what. Never give up. Know ahead of time that you will be successful. Everyone faces adversity, and everyone goes through bad periods. The key to your success, both professionally and personally, is to never give up. Remember that every disappointment or failure, is leading you one step closer to success.
Rejection is something we need to deal with in sales. How you handle that disappointment will determine whether or not you move forward to achieve your goals.
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
Good luck to you on your journey to success.
I tell my clients that one of the most important things that they can do for both their business and personal life is to create compelling goals and setting specific trackable actions to achieve those goals.
It is part of living an intentional life. It is a way to create the impact you want in the world.
It is not easy to do this. Most people don’t do it effectively. Many don’t do it at all.
You may be thinking that this doesn’t apply to you because you have set goals for yourself. You know, for example that you want to earn more money, or enjoy yourself more, or be debt free, or grow your business, or improve your health.
If any of these statements apply to you, I would suggest that they are not goals at all, but rather are vague wishes.
What follows are 5 secrets that will dramatically and positively impact the achievement of your goals.
I would like to share with you some ideas and suggestions found in my book, What Every Great Salesperson Knows, A No-Nonsense Guide for Sales Success, in the hope that it will inspire and motivate you in your business.
There are a number of traits that all successful salespeople have in common.
One of the most important behaviors that they all possess is:
Highly successful salespeople are persistent in their work routines. They follow through on customer relationships, record their progress and report to a manager, coach or mentor.
Take a look at the following two lists and evaluate yourself to assess where you need to improve.
Salespeople who have MASTERED the behavior of Self Discipline have this in common:
- Follow through on commitments to self and others
- Set clear priorities and systematize routine work so that they can spend prime time on critical activities
- Put in the time necessary to get the job or task done correctly
- Focus on the task at hand and do not allow themselves to be distracted from planned work activities Use routine systems for getting the work done (e.g., systems for prospecting, maintaining customer relationships and handling administrative details).
Salespeople who LACK Self Discipline:
- Are easily distracted
- Are disorganized in their work
- Have no established work plans or routines
- Forget assignments and miss appointments and deadlines
- Fail to track their sales activates and results
Here are a few suggestions on how to improve your Self Discipline:
Think of a time in the past when you have shown self-discipline. Try to identify common elements in those experiences. Seek opportunities for similar experiences in the future
When you catch yourself being self-disciplined, give yourself some credit! Take the time to experience how good you feel about what you have done and encourage yourself to do it again. Record the experience in a journal
Say “no” to distractions
Be ruthless with your time management
So how do you rate yourself? Are you someone who has a great deal of self discipline or is there room for improvement?
I would like to share with you some ideas and concepts from my book, What Every Great Salesperson Knows, A No-nonsense Guide for Sales Success that I hope you will find useful and inspirational.
I offer this book for free on my website - http://www.insurancecoachu.com/free-book. It usually sells for $24.95 on Amazon, but I make it available as a free download to my readers.
The book is based on many years of research on sales competencies. Fifteen traits have been tracked that identifies those qualities and behaviors that most successful salespeople have in common.
One of the most important traits that successful salespeople have in common is:
All Activities are Oriented Around Desired Results
Highly successful salespeople have the resolve to set challenging goals and the persistence to achieve them in the face of obstacles.
Rate yourself on the following traits that successful salespeople possess:
- Focuses on measurable, challenging goals and is disciplined in following through on action plans
- Shows a strong sense of urgency about solving problems and getting desired results
- Creates measures of excellence beyond those set by management or others
- Acts decisively to pursue opportunities that promise the best return on their time and effort
- Focuses on profitable sales opportunities
Here are some suggestions on how to improve your
- Identify a colleague who exhibits results orientation. Ask that person how he or she stays organized and focused. Also ask them how they monitor their progress against their goals.
- At the end of each day, be sure to evaluate what happened during the day. Did you achieve your goals? What worked? Why? What didn’t’ work? Why? What could you have done differently? What assumptions do you need to challenge or change? What got in the way? How can you conquer the obstacles in yourself and in the situation the next time?
- Treat performance measures as a baseline against which you track your accomplishments, not as a target result. If you believe you have the ability to surpass performance targets, then mentally raise the bar by shooting for stretch goals over and above the target.
How well did you do? If you would like to improve in one or more areas, pick just one problem area to tackle first. Then follow this 6-step process:
1. Clearly state the goal you’re trying to achieve
2. Review/analyze your current situation
3. Set short term and long term objectives
4. Schedule activities/actions to achieve your objectives and keep score as to your progress
5. Implement the activities
6. Evaluate your results
In today's sales environment one of the most effective ways to connect with prospects is by first developing a relationship with them. The best way to do that is through networking and by getting favorable introductions.
"Everyone knows that," you say. Yes, they do, but why do so many people have such a hard time doing it well or even doing it at all?
Over the last several months, I've been noticing more and more articles written on the topic of networking and I'd like to share my thoughts with you around how to be more effective with this time proven practice.
I understand that many people are fearful about meeting and talking with people that they don't know. By not overcoming this obstacle, you will miss many opportunities to connect with both potential prospects and even centers of influence.
So what are these fears and how do you overcome them? Here's a short list.Read More
One of the most transformative shifts that we can make is a firm decision to change a something in our lives. This could be setting a different goal for the future, changing a process for your business, implementing a new strategy or having more time with your family.
Making a decision to do something different will change the future outcome.Read More