Tag Archive | "time management"

‘If I Just Had More Time Each Day …’


Do you wish you had more time to get more done? What could you do if you could squeeze an extra hour of productivity into your day? How much more could you accomplish? Without question, everybody reading this could get more done with more time. So here’s Catch number 1, or the choice you’ll have to make. If you need an extra hour to get more done, you’ll either have to spend an extra hour at work or learn how to prioritize what you do, so you can be more productive.

My guess is everyone would choose to get more done without working longer. That’s great, and to accomplish that, the challenge for everyone — you, me and everyone else — is to learn how to manage your time throughout the day, even with all of the fire drills you have every day.

Catch number 2: There is no such thing as “time management.” In real life, you can’t manage time; we all have to learn to manage our activities that use up our time every day. We have to learn to better manage our activities each day so when the day is over, we’ve accomplished the most important things we needed to get done in sales or sales management to sell more, gross more, drive more floor traffic, slow down turnover, build our repeat business and our dozen other business priorities.

Here are two quick stats as a baseline on how we’re doing now:

• The average sales manager wastes 25% of his or her day doing things that are non-productive. No doubt we’re all busy all day. This stat just means we spend a lot of time doing stuff that comes up instead of some of the more important things we need to get done.
• The average sales manager only spends 18% of their day working with their salespeople (including working deals).

Our role as sales managers means we’re supposed to devote our day to doing something to sell a vehicle, raise the gross or build the business. We can’t do that very well if we only manage and work with our salespeople for a fraction of our day. The good news, however, is that while you can’t manage your time, you can quickly learn to manage the activities that take up your time. And when you manage your activities, you get control of your day and you can plan what you want to happen instead of just reacting to what happens around you.

The real trick is learning how to prioritize what you do each day and learning how to walk away from non-productive tasks, people and situations that are not mission-critical. Can almost anybody interrupt what you’re doing? Do salespeople, other managers, wholesalers and vendors hang around while you’re trying to work deals or prepare your daily training? Can ad people, wholesalers, factory guys, bankers and even strangers walk in any time they want?

Especially in smaller dealerships, you can get managers to drop the responsibilities of running a multimillion dollar business just to talk. I didn’t say every interruption was a bad thing — just that managers in the car business are so accessible. With time management, there is a trade-off for everything you do. If you let other people continually interrupt you for their benefit — you put off the important activities you need to get done to make your dealership more successful. Like a traffic jam, everything you don’t do that needs to get done pushes another activity further down your list. Pretty soon, everything is backed up and the fire drill is on.

A few tips for minimizing these distractions:

Business Partners: Schedule wholesalers, lenders, dealer trades and all those other vendors for a specific time of day and stick to it! You decide when you’re available. Have them come in at 7 a.m. on Monday or at 6 p.m. Wednesday or on Saturday morning before 9 a.m. Don’t worry, if they want your business, they’ll be flexible.
Customers: The only people you can’t schedule are customers. If they have a problem, stop wasting time handing them off to a salesperson or anyone else who can’t solve the problem. Don’t put it off, save time and solve it now. If you can’t personally take care of the problem, take them to the right person, explain the situation, then leave and get back to what you were doing.
Folks just hanging around: The hardest decision I had to make when I decided to turn pro was to “go to work to work.” It was hard because I had to let the other managers and salespeople know they couldn’t stop by to waste my time just because they had nothing to do for a few minutes. What’s the big deal about a five-minute interruption? With 15 salespeople and managers, if everyone interrupts everyone for just five minutes each day, on the surface, it’s just five minutes times 15 people, or 1 hour and 15 minutes wasted. But there’s a multiplier in there, because it takes twice as long to get your mind back into the task you were working on before you were interrupted.

One of the best tips I ever got on “activity management” was to tape this saying everywhere in your office to remind you of what you’re doing and trying to accomplish. In fact, this is the same tip I give salespeople. Just write this down and make sure you read it often: “Am I doing the most productive thing possible right now?” When you notice you aren’t, turn and walk away. The challenge is to keep the “main thing,” the main thing all day.

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Should I Stay or Should I Go?


I was in the middle of a staff meeting when my wife called. Our 16-year-old cat, who had not been eating for days, was clearly nearing the end and my wife had a vet on the way to the house. My son, who works with me, was about to leave to go home. I had what I would call “the moment.” All working people have them — the moment when you ask yourself, “Should I go home, or should I stay and continue to fight the battle?” Quick. Make a decision.

I have made this kind of decision many times before. On more than one occasion, I have made the wrong decision. How do I know? Because I am still thinking about it 20 years later. Of course, this has gotten easier. Today, I have a competent staff and a business that can run without me for days on end, maybe even weeks or months! The fact is, my typical workday is now very different than it was 20 years ago.

Back then, my business was growing at a rapid pace, and I spent my whole day going from one emergency to another. It was all-consuming and all-confusing. I had no idea what I was doing wrong that I couldn’t take a few hours off if I felt the need. I’m not talking about the easy calls — when a loved one is rushed to the hospital or your house is burning down. At times like that, you just leave — unless you are even more messed up than I was. I’m talking about the times that you have to make a judgment call (or in my case, a lack-of-judgment call). I have had more than a few of these over the years, times when it wasn’t critical that I be there but it would have been nice.

Many years ago, my mother was in the hospital for surgery, which I was there for. (I told you, I’m not that messed up.) Everything went fine, and my mother told me that she would get the results from a biopsy at about 2 p.m. the next day. I promised myself that I would be there when the doctor came to deliver the news, which would either be very good or very bad. Before I knew it, 2 had come and gone, and my mother called me at 2:30 to tell me that everything looked good.

I was relieved, disappointed and horrified — disappointed that I had lost track of the time and didn’t make it to the hospital and horrified to realize that my life was indeed out of control. It was like the movies, when they convey the passage of time by showing the hands of the clock spinning wildly. That’s what my days were like. But I was determined to get control of my business and, in turn, my life. Here is the good news: I accomplished my goal. Here is the bad news: it took me more than 20 years to do it.

First, I learned how to manage, which includes hiring competent people. And I figured out how to stop spending all of my time putting out fires — I got rid of the arsonists. (I have written previously about my learning curve.) It was easier said than done, but I believe I now have a healthier perspective. When you tell yourself that it doesn’t matter whether you are at the hospital, or the awards ceremony, or the big game, it probably does. That is what regrets are made of, even if it takes 20 years for you to fully understand.

That said, I don’t mean to suggest that it ever gets easy. If you own your own business and you have made commitments, it is sometimes necessary to take care of business. That judgment call can be very difficult when you are in the thick of things, especially when your kids are too young to tell you how disappointed they are. Or your family is trying to be supportive. It can be tempting to view these as isolated incidents, but if they happen too often, you might want to ask yourself the questions I asked myself.

As for our cat, this time I went home. She was a good cat. And this time I didn’t disappoint my wife.

This article was written by Jay Goltz and published in The New York Times.

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10 Time-Management Tips That Work


Chances are good that, at some time in your life, you’ve taken a time-management class, read about it in books, and tried to use an electronic or paper-based day planner to organize, prioritize and schedule your day. “Why, with this knowledge and these gadgets,” you may ask, “do I still feel like I can’t get everything done I need to?”

The answer is simple. Everything you ever learned about managing time is a complete waste of time because it doesn’t work.

Before you can even begin to manage time, you must learn what time is. A dictionary defines time as “the point or period at which things occur.” Put simply, time is when stuff happens.

There are two types of time: clock time and real time. In clock time, there are 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day and 365 days in a year. All time passes equally. When someone turns 50, they are exactly 50 years old, no more or no less.

In real time, all time is relative. Time flies or drags depending on what you’re doing. Two hours at the department of motor vehicles can feel like 12 years. And yet our 12-year-old children seem to have grown up in only two hours.

Which time describes the world in which you really live, real time or clock time?

The reason time-management gadgets and systems don’t work is that these systems are designed to manage clock time. Clock time is irrelevant. You don’t live in or even have access to clock time. You live in real time, a world in which all time flies when you are having fun or drags when you are doing your taxes.

The good news is that real time is mental. It exists between your ears. You create it. Anything you create, you can manage. It’s time to remove any self-sabotage or self-limitation you have around “not having enough time,” or today not being “the right time” to start a business or manage your current business properly.

There are only three ways to spend time: thoughts, conversations and actions. Regardless of the type of business you own, your work will be composed of those three items.

As an entrepreneur, you may be frequently interrupted or pulled in different directions. While you cannot eliminate interruptions, you do get a say on how much time you will spend on them and how much time you will spend on the thoughts, conversations and actions that will lead you to success.

Practice the following techniques to become the master of your own time:

  1. Carry a schedule and record all your thoughts, conversations and activities for a week. This will help you understand how much you can get done during the course of a day and where your precious moments are going. You’ll see how much time is actually spent producing results and how much time is wasted on unproductive thoughts, conversations and actions.
  2. Any activity or conversation that’s important to your success should have a time assigned to it. To-do lists get longer and longer to the point where they’re unworkable. Appointment books work. Schedule appointments with yourself and create time blocks for high-priority thoughts, conversations, and actions. Schedule when they will begin and end. Have the discipline to keep these appointments.
  3. Plan to spend at least 50 percent of your time engaged in the thoughts, activities and conversations that produce most of your results.
  4. Schedule time for interruptions. Plan time to be pulled away from what you’re doing. Take, for instance, the concept of having “office hours.” Isn’t “office hours” another way of saying “planned interruptions?”
  5. Take the first 30 minutes of every day to plan your day. Don’t start your day until you complete your time plan. The most important time of your day is the time you schedule to schedule time.
  6. Take five minutes before every call and task to decide what result you want to attain. This will help you know what success looks like before you start. And it will also slow time down. Take five minutes after each call and activity to determine whether your desired result was achieved. If not, what was missing? How do you put what’s missing in your next call or activity?
  7. Put up a “Do not disturb” sign when you absolutely have to get work done.
  8. Practice not answering the phone just because it’s ringing and e-mails just because they show up. Disconnect instant messaging. Don’t instantly give people your attention unless it’s absolutely crucial in your business to offer an immediate human response. Instead, schedule a time to answer email and return phone calls.
  9. Block out other distractions like Facebook and other forms of social media unless you use these tools to generate business.
  10. Remember that it’s impossible to get everything done. Also remember that odds are good that 20 percent of your thoughts, conversations and activities produce 80 percent of your results.

This article was written by Joe Mathews, Don Debolt and Deb Percival and published in Entrepreneur magazine.

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