We all need time to... just think.  How to schedule your 30 minutes.

Posted by Jack Derby, Head Coach on Tue, Feb 09, 2016

Shoveling_Guy.jpgJust finished shoveling snow here in the "Live Free or Die" State  

Although I have a perfectly good, one year old snowblower sitting unused in the garage, it was important to me to spend 30 minutes shoveling this morning for a couple of reasons.

  • First, a year ago, I was exactly one month out of heart surgery, and at the time, right in the middle of "the wicked winta' of 2015", so I committed that an example of my own personal success would be shoveling this winter.  
    A year later, I'm out happily shoveling.  
  • Second, I needed time to think.  As one of the 46% of New Hampshire residents who yesterday were undecided, I'd narrowed down the choices and thrown out lots of "whatstheirnames" and "youcan'tbeserious" personalities, but when I walk into the Rye elementary school in a couple of hours, I needed this morning's shoveling time to kick the options back and forth and upside down.  

Interesting article in the WSJ this morning about "Stress Raises cholesterol More Than You Think".  I've hyperlinked it here, but never sure that it will open or merely go to the "you-must-subscribe-page".   Anyway, it's worth reading.  

The bottom line of which is that in an over-scheduled, tightly-crammed, no-more-time-left-in-my-day world, findings now conclude that stress leads to more cholesterol, which leads to clogged arteries which leads to lots of bad things.

stress-1.png“Stress will make your cholesterol go up,” says Stephen Kopecky, a preventive cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., ... “Without a doubt, that has been underrecognized.”

Ok, I guess that I kind of knew this, but it's helpful to see it in print, and it's one more thing that I can add to my personal arsenal of clinical tactics, home remedies, wonder drugs and common sense items that will insure that I will never have to go through heart surgery again.

Take Time Out to Think

Easy to say, not so easy to do?  

Actually, it is pretty easy to do, you just need to simply write the time into your calendar. Perhaps you start slowly and schedule 30 minutes into only three days a week, and see what it feels like.  So, let's think about this in terms of the math of a day or a week.

You probably work 10 hours on average a day.  Salespeople respond to our annual survey that they work on an average of 57.5 hours a week, but that average calculates out over the "A" levels down to the-less-than-A's".  From our one-on-ones with hundreds of salespeople across a wide variety of industries and stages of companies, we believe that the A's are averaging 65 plus total-total considering both their planning and actual selling time.   

Hard for me to believe that in that 60 hour work week, salespeople and managers cannot carve out just 30 minutes to reflect, to think and to plan the day, the balance of the week, or think through that key account opportunity.  It just takes discipline and solid time management skills, and any successful salesperson or manager should have plenty of those two critical skills. 

Where can you carve out just 30 minutes and actually build it into your calendar...every day? For me, since I live on the New Hampshire beach and commute into Boston very early in the morning, that's my time.  No interruptions except the background of the Bloomberg News out of London.  No opportunities to make calls, since no one else in their right mind is up at that time.  

  • I use the time to think.  Maybe it's bigger picture stuff like where does the business need to be by mid- year.  Maybe, it's just sorting out schedules for the balance of the week. And, very often it's quietly thinking through a particular customer problem in the quiet of 70 miles an hour, no-traffic-on-95, before- the-sun-is-up-early-morning.  It works perfectly for me.
  • I'm able to dictate a couple of notes into my iPhone and then take a look at those over breakfast after working out.  A perfect start to the day, and... it lowers my stress... I think.

A Couple of Ideas to Get You Started

  • There are two times of day that work most successfully.  One is before the work day begins, before you plug in, before you answer emails, before you make that first call.  Once you've crossed that line of the first email, you're hopelessly lost.  You're distracted at best, and even if you could constrain yourself to "just one email", you're defocused and somewhat worthless in terms of focusing on "just thinking".

    That other time is while you're having lunch at your desk.  The very fact that you're visibly having lunch will stop people from interrupting you.  As importantly, the act of having lunch, which hopefully is a pleasant thing to do, provides you with a mini-vacation and a perfect time to take 30 minutes and "just think".

    Commute times work for me (only in the morning) and for some people, while others reserve that time for catch-up phone calls.  Typically, commuting is not the best time to "just think" especially if you're fighting bumper-to-bumper traffic on 95/93.
  • Buy a good notebook and keep it close to hand to jot down your ideas in it.  Use this only for your "just thinking time".  This is not a journal; that's too much like work.  It is merely a special place for you to note down your thoughts.  The practical sense of writing things out will not only help you to sort through the clutter, but it will also slow down your pace...just a bit...giving you more time to reflect and to visually assess, through the act of writing, the issues and the solutions to an employee problem or a sales opportunity.
  • Don't overthink the process.  This 30 minutes is not necessarily meant to solve the big strategic issues facing you personally or your business.  There may be some of that, but most often these 30 minute "mini-vacations" will allow you to sort out your agenda for the day or the next two days, or on a Monday, structure the entire week...always making sure that you insert those 30 minute breaks.   

    You might use this time for thinking through the outline of a presentation that you need to make in a week or so to a key account.  Speaking of key accounts, 30 minutes is the perfect amount of time to take a higher level architectural view of a major opportunity and think through what you need to do over the period of six months to achieve success in that account rather than just focusing on the salels activities over the next couple of weeks.  
  • Focus on a specific deliverable.   Over the weekend, I took one of those 30 minute breaks to think through our website tools, and in just 30 minutes came up with the architecture of two much more useful tools for creating Sales Plans.  
  • One longer presentation on Sales Process and Sales Plans,  
  • One shorter just on the Sales Activity Tools and the Templates themselves.  

    Let me know what you think? Should take less than 30 minutes. 

    The point here is that if I had not taken those 30 minutes on that particular day, I would not have realized that the materials that we had been using on our website were way out of date.

Just a couple of productivity ideas to think about for 30 minutes today.  

Off to vote now that I've done my 30 minutes of shoveling!

Good Selling this week!

Best of success, health and happiness in 2016 !  

  Jack Derby 

Head Coach  

Derby Management...for 25 years
-Sales & Marketing Productivity Experts
-Business & Strategy Planning Specialists
-Senior Management Coaches for CEOs & VPs

Box 171322, Boston, MA 02117
Jack's Cell: 617-504-4222 

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Tags: sales, sales tools, sales training, sales plans