Wednesday, October 21, 2009


The main difference between someone earning $10 an hour and $100 an hour is how they manage their time.

This is from a recent email from Jill Konrath:

7 Time Wasters of Busy Salespeople
By Audrey Thomas, Lean Officer Expert & CPO®

Everyone loves those days when you're able to check more things off the Task list vs. adding more to it. When it comes to being efficient in the office, there are several things that might interfere with your ability to complete tasks on that never-ending To Do List. Learning how to minimize these common distractions will help you optimize your productivity and close more sales!

1. Email
According to RescueTime, a company that analyzes computer habits, a typical information worker who sits at a computer checks email more than 50 times a day. That's once every 9.6 minutes. Begin immediately to control the number of times you go to your inbox.

Set a goal to check your email only 3-5 times throughout your day and get into the habit of minimizing your email program after checking emails. Also, keep in mind that while many emails are important, few are urgent.

2. Interruptions by Co-workers
There's nothing worse than someone who asks for just a minute of your time but takes 15. You might feel you need a stoplight or yield sign to manage the flow of people coming by your office door. While interacting with others is a requirement, it doesn't have to take up most of your day.

Start by communicating to others your need for focus time. Hanging a sign/symbol on your doorknob or outside your cube will signal to others that this isn't a good time to interrupt your work. Be creative. One of my sales clients used yellow caution tape across his cubicle entrance, sending a firm message with a little humor.

3. Attending Unnecessary Meetings
We are a "meeting" culture. We've all been part of a meeting in which our attendance seemed pointless or a waste of our time. If your name appears on an invite list unnecessarily, challenge the meeting planner in a constructive way. Offer to review the meeting recap notes in order to stay in the loop of things.

4. Mixing Business with Pleasure
It's easy to get into the habit of handling a few personal items while at work. According to Voco, a network security firm, workers are spending 25% of their time tending to personal things (such as checking personal email, texting, monitoring an eBay auction, or scoping out the best vacation deals) and most bosses are totally unaware of it. Spending time on personal items takes away time with potential customers and increases the need to work late or bring work home.

5. Social Media
Ever lose track of time with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or YouTube? Online socializing-even when used for business purposes-can be a time waster if it interferes with other projects.

Begin by giving yourself permission to check in online with others. Next, designate a set amount of time each day for online social sites. In 15-20 minutes, you can update your status or send a few tweets; setting a limit makes you more aware of your time and less apt to waste it.

6. Distractions
Small, everyday things contribute to big distractions without us even realizing it. For example, you might be lucky to have a window in your office, but outside activities like wildlife, people or even traffic interfere with your ability to focus.

Or perhaps your office is located close to the break room or restroom, and you find yourself noticing others instead of the follow up calls on your To Do List which desperately need your time and attention. In that case, rearrange your office so you're not directly facing the window or foot traffic going by.

7. Working from Home
Many salespeople are given the option of working from home. A common misconception is that telecommuters are able to multi-task with chores around the house and sales calls for work. This habit usually results in longer work hours and wears down productivity. If you work from home, you need to clearly define working hours as well as specific time for doing laundry, mowing the yard or running errands with the kids.

AUDREY THOMAS, CPO®, is a speaker, author, and Lean Office expert. She's the author of Buried Alive!: Surviving the Avalanche of Paper and Email and Getting Organized with MS Outlook and serves as Past-President of the National Speakers Association-Minnesota. A frequent speaker at conferences and sales meetings, Audrey also coaches individuals who want to improve productivity in order to reach their sales goals. Contact her at 1-866-767-0455 or visit

© 2009 Audrey Thomas

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