I used to work 20 hours a day, seven days a week. I thought I only needed four hours of sleep. I equated deleterious hours with success. I was burning myself out living up to my own self-destructive standards.
Why did I work as I did? It wasn’t my parents. They are “Old Hippies and they don’t know what to do. Should they hang to the old? Should they grab on to the new?” Sorry, got carried away. My parents love that dumb old Bellamy Brothers song. I think I just got so driven by the pressure of sales, and quotas, and obligations, and deadlines that I got lost in all the rigmarole. And I think I liked it that my peers said, “Sarah is a workaholic.” It made me feel proud. And we all know that pride is one of the Seven Deadly Sins.
At some point I realized my concept of work ethic was wrong. My parents tried to tell me, but who listens to their parents, especially when they are always high and listening to The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin and the like.
But I was wrong. Someday I may write about how I realized that being a “workaholic” does not equal success; that working more hours does not equal working smarter, but I don’t want to tackle that topic right now. I don’t have the time. Let us continue.
Here are my Seven Little Tips. May they help you better plan your day.
1) Prospect in the morning (every morning): I make sure that I call, email, or use social media to contact my prospects first thing in the morning. For most people, prospecting is the least favorite part of sales so I believe it’s best to get it over with. I try to ignore the voices in my head telling me to put it off. When not prospecting, I spend this early morning time researching people and companies.
2) Preset calls in the afternoon (30-minute increments). I call suppliers, employees, media prospect screenings, etc. I cluster my calls in 30-minute increments. I find it’s difficult to focus and use my time efficiently if I have chunks of time in between calls. It’s much more efficient to do all my “talking” when I’m in a zone.
3) No Meeting Mondays:
‘Monday, Monday, so good to me
Monday mornin’, it was all I hoped it would be
-The Mamas and the Papas
I schedule no meetings one day a week. My “No Meeting Day” is Monday. (Sometimes I have to make it Friday because I travel a lot and need the flexibility). This idea might seem crazy and impossible, but it’s one of the best things I’ve done for my business. My meeting free day is when I do my strategy and creative work. This allows me to study competitors, research trends in technology, generate new sales ideas and learn about digital marketing. This week I read the LinkedIn Marketing Ebook and learned about SEO topic clusters. My best and most important work is almost always done on Mondays.
4) Articles one hour each day. Relevant information is vital to my sales. I feel better prepared armed with pertinent data, data that my competitors may not have. Reading articles helps me identify the prospects to target, who to stay away from and how to develop an indisputable value proposition. I subscribe to several daily electronic publications in the industries we target and two that highlight important business and tech stories. I often share these articles on social media with colleagues that I think might find the information useful via LinkedIn. I enjoy reading the Hustle and Home.
5) In-person meetings two days per week. Meeting with people requires energy and planning. It takes a different mindset than prospecting, research or strategic work. Whether the meetings are in my office, or if I am Ubering around town, I schedule all my in-person meetings consecutively. This allows my to stay in my focused in-person mindset. When I’m not traveling, I schedule my in-person meetings on Tuesday and Thursdays.
6) Online training two hours per week: There are many great free online courses and videos to digest. Perhaps too many. My focus this year is on digital marketing. I’m going to take several courses on SEO, ads, Facebook and LinkedIn. Education used to be one of the things I would put off. Now that it’s a part of my schedule, it gets done.
7) Send meeting reminders the day before.
“I can’t wait forever
Even though you want me to
I can’t wait forever
To know If you’ll be true
Time won’t let me
Time won’t let me
Time won’t let me
Wait too long”
Time is valuable. There’s nothing worse than wasting time sitting on a call or driving somewhere only to have the person cancel. I find that texting is the best way to send a “next day” meeting notice reminder. It’s the last thing I do before calling it a day. Be sure to get the cell phone number for each person you are going to meet with.
I was recently hired as President at Procureit5. Taking on a new job and building a brand in a highly competitive market is daunting. There’s a lot of work to be done. I admit that I spend a few of my nights and weekends working. But I also schedule some “do not work” time, and I’m trying to utilize the above seven little tips. And they are helping. Just yesterday I hung out with my parents. We tie-dyed shirts together and contemplated our belly buttons.
This article first appeared in the Print Solutions Magazine produced by the Print Services & Distribution Association (PSDA).