Change Your Behavior
After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:
- Identify techniques to lessen digital distractions.
- Make time for the right activities.
It’s important to understand how digital distractions impact productivity. But to limit the impact on our sales productivity, we need to identify the habits that contribute to these distractions and change them.
Realizing we have digital distractions is a start, but we need to know which of our habits affect our sales productivity before we can change anything. The best place to start is by documenting what’s happening. Unfortunately, the same habits that can keep us from being productive sellers can sabotage our tracking efforts if we try to record our activities manually. Jill Konrath, author of More Sales, Less Time, recommends leveraging an app, like RescueTime, to log how you spend your time. An app will give you a baseline to understand how much time you spend being distracted every day. Chances are, if you’re here, you know you have challenges. With this baseline, you can track how well you improve your productivity.
Because our brains are hardwired to reward us for distractions, we might need some help. Start by making small changes. Trying to change everything about how you work will interrupt your workflow. As a first step, try turning off the notifications that interrupt your work, like every time a new email arrives. While you're at it, plan to check email at certain times of the day. Checking your email at set times may help you avoid the temptation to look at your email to "check if the client email came" (or whatever the excuse for checking email), which typically leads to reading and responding to more emails, keeping you from the task you need to accomplish. The less task switching you do, the more efficiently you can work.
“Unless we live by design, we live by default.”
—Jill Konrath, author of More Sales, Less Time
Now for all those shiny objects out there in the digital world. Whether it’s the news, sports, ads, or interesting sales articles from Quotable, each can have its own place and time. But while preparing a presentation for a customer or researching a prospect isn’t the time. In these situations, Konrath recommends putting a firewall between you and your distractions. Turn off your phone, and sign out of your email. You can even find an app that blocks access to your favorite sites (you know, the ones that don’t help you close that deal).
Another approach Konrath recommends is the Pomodoro Technique, developed by Francesco Cirillo, which consists of setting a timer for 25 minutes, working on a task during those 25 minutes, and then taking a 5-minute break. This technique is ideal when you’re having a hard time getting motivating to tackle (or finish) a project or when you really need to focus. There are specific apps you can download for the Pomodoro Technique. It’s not a complicated process, but it can help you tackle some of those more challenging tasks.
Make the Time
As we’re eliminating the distractions that keep us from our full selling potential, we should also take a look at our priorities and how we’re approaching them. Modern selling can often feel like a balancing act of customer-facing activities and administrative work. The suggestion here is not to dump all your administrative work—it's likely required for your job—but ask yourself if you’re addressing the most important things you need to accomplish. Take those most critical activities and schedule them on your calendar. Grouping similar activities and setting aside blocks of time on your calendar can help you get them done.
For instance, if you need to update your accounts and deals in your CRM, block time for it to make it happen. You also can try scheduling less time than you initially thought to see if you can motivate yourself to get it done faster. So instead of 30 minutes for a certain activity, try giving yourself only 20 minutes. But remember, no matter how much you plan for the perfect day, something will likely disrupt the flow. Be sure to block in some buffer time to adjust to the unpredictable elements your sales day may bring.
"As human beings—and salespeople—we have an intrinsic need to feel that what we do makes a difference."
Remember to focus more of your time and attention on the most important projects. Once you make small changes to get the digital distractions under control, you’re well positioned to get more out of your day—and without adding more hours. Those important tasks, not just the urgent one, can help propel your career.
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