Does this scenario sound familiar to you? You start your day with the best intentions, a well thought out to-do list, and a clear, realistic plan for what you want to get done, and the next thing you know the work day is over and you haven't accomplished even half of the items on your list. On the surface, you can't figure it out. You worked all day (maybe even skipped lunch) and there were no other appointments on your calendar. Shaking your head, you wonder aloud, "Where did the day go?"
If you notice yourself asking that question more than once a week or so, you're suffering from the single biggest issue every direct seller faces: succumbing to the dreaded time drainers in your life and business. The worst thing about time drainers is that they steal your time from right under your nose and you never even realize it until it's too late.
Identifying the worst culprits in the time drain gang of thieves can help you to nail them before they strike. So, how do you define a time drainer? It's anything that steals your focus during the day. It can be as simple as the view out your office window and as invasive as your children fighting in the next room. The two worst, in my personal experience and my years of working on time management with my clients? E-mail and social media.
I recommend that you take some time and identify what your time drainers are and then take action to begin to imprison them so you can be more productive. Here are some actions I've taken in the past that have made a huge difference for me:
- I created folders and rules in my e-mail system so my e-mails are delivered directly to the appropriate folder. That way, I don't have to read the e-mails from my family or my bank until I choose to. My main in-box stays empty for the most part.
- I've changed the auto check on my e-mail from every five minutes to manual. That way, when I'm checking e-mails, it's intentional and not a random act that's pulling me off task. You can do this in your e-mail settings under "send/receive options."
- I schedule my time on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and the internet in general. I'm checking Facebook about three times a day and that's it.
- I've set up my notifications on my social media channels to alert me when someone interacts with me so I can respond without hanging around keeping tabs on everything. That way I look like I'm on Facebook all day just waiting to comment or respond when someone else comments on something I've posted, but I'm really not (don't tell anyone).
- I've turned on the hourly notification on my computer so at the top of every hour, a very pleasant male voice tells me "It's 3:00." That keeps me conscious of the passing time and, at least once an hour, brings me back to the present moment.
- I use my caller-id and let my voice mail do it's job (which is really to me like a personal assistant answering my phone and saying, "I'm sorry, Julie's not available. Can I take a message?"). And I put my office hours on my outgoing message so everyone knows when I'm available.
Just by making these small changes, I've been able to get much more done in less time and the frustration of having a plan and then not executing it has pretty much vanished.
So, do tell. What are your time drainers and how are you managing them?
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Julie Anne Jones is a direct sales corporate consultant, coach, and trainer, and the CEO of Julie Anne Jones, Inc. She is known for her authentic and easy-to-use scripting and specializes in specific language and tools for success in direct sales. To learn more about Julie Anne and her products and services, and to read more blog posts, visit her at www.julieannejones.com.