Wow … another year gone by at break-neck speed. We’ve have had our ups and downs, and our ins and outs (of lockdown of course). To me, it seems as though the pace of doing business is getting quicker and more demanding (or maybe I am just getting older).

From talking with customers, in particular with their sales professionals, they still cannot get their job done properly and without interruption – even though we have provided many of them with the technology they asked for. Why? We are all now accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and there seems to be an expectation that this is now the norm.

I am sure that many of you reading this can appreciate where I am going here. On demand 24/7 wasn’t in the position description.

Just reflect for a minute. A customer sends you an email and before you can open it, they are on the phone following up to ensure it has been actioned. How many hours a day do our sales professionals spend on the side of the road or in a carpark somewhere reading, responding, and actioning issues that should be handled by others? Because they have become the ‘on demand 24/7’ specialist they just cannot break away.

I am a firm believer in technology, but if you do not take a disciplined approach, the pressure of me, me, me (I am the most important) and/or technology will become your biggest time waster. How many times have you looked for a specific item on your phone or started doing a task that should only take a few minutes and then, before you know it, you are lost in a jungle of emails, browsing, chatting, social-networking and/or other distractions and find that you have lost 30 minutes and the original task is still not completed? The illusion of multi-tasking as the ‘superpower’ of the digital age is intimately linked to distractions, poor time management and loss of personal productivity.

Let me see if I can change your thinking a little by redefining the term ‘time management’ and calling it ‘Personal Time Management’. Only you are in charge of your time and only you can take control of it. If you don’t take control, technology or other people will. So, what can you do about it? First, work out your interruptions and how the tasks that are not a priority get into your schedule. Good personal time management requires you to decide what you are going to handle or delegate, and then prioritise or delete.

Everyone has the same amount of time in every day. People either use it wisely or it’s gone forever

– David Esler

The other aspect of good personal time management is understanding that we do not work alone. It’s about the way we manage the time of others, and the way others step into our own time. Having a common understanding that you will always be working on the most important priorities, will avoid the ‘Why didn’t you read my email and act on it when you received it?’

Second, understand that not every second is equal. In my training sessions, I always have lots of stunned looks when I say this and then someone will ask, ‘What do you mean not every second is equal?’. We are all different and we all have different body clocks. Some of us are morning people and others are afternoon or evening people. Work on the most important or highest priority tasks when you are at your best and you will get more done.

Third, ‘No one has more time than me’. In my job, I get to meet and spend time with lots of people and there are two
things that stand out: One, everyone has the same amount of time in every day, and two, people either use it wisely or it’s gone forever.

People who are good with personal time management recognise that every minute that ticks by will be lost forever if it isn’t used wisely. In my Accelerator Sales Masterclass, I stand at the front, stop talking and look at the class for 10 seconds. Of course, everyone in the room is thinking ‘What’s this bloke up to?’ In fact, I am demonstrating how easy it is to be distracted and to lose 10 seconds. The smart ones will realise that it is not 10 seconds I have consumed. With 10 people in the room, I have wasted just under two minutes in total … and I am but just one distraction.

Finally, good personal time management is all about seizing the day and leaving nothing to chance for tomorrow. Having run my business for over 14 years now, the one thing that still resonates with me, is that being successful at personal time management is all about getting it done and not getting distracted.

In this digital era, ‘not getting distracted’ may be the simplest thing to remember, but in most cases the hardest to execute. We are all, at times, guilty of doing a little Internet surfing because it’s fun and distracts us from doing the tasks that we don’t like. My challenge to you is to get them done. Make it happen and you will feel far better than if you didn’t. Focus on what is going to deliver the best results and have the greatest impact for you and your business.

If you have tried to put some of these tips into practice and still find that you are getting distracted, then may I suggest you take remedial action. There are lots of tools that can help us discover our work practice vis-à-vis wasteful activities online. Rescue Time, for example, is an app that monitors your daily habits and sends you periodic alerts of how you are using your time online. Once the distractions identified by the app are removed, all that’s left is to focus on are useful activities and ‘getting things done’. Enjoy the extra time in the day you will gain and your new ‘personal time management’ program.

2022 is going to be a big year and the less distractions you have and the better focused you are, the more successful you will be. Have a safe break and bring on 2022. It will be different, but just how is the question I am sure we are all looking forward to finding out!