By Keith Rosen, MCC
The Executive Sales Coach™
Time blocking is the art of allocating blocks of designated time for specific activities or tasks throughout the day. These tasks should be aligned with your goals and compatible with the realistic number of hours available each day. Time blocking helps to keep your life in balance.
If you haven't already, I would strongly suggest that you make a list and prioritize the tasks and activities in your daily routine along with established timelines for each.
For example, if you have a nine-hour workday, you realistically have eight hours or less to use for activities blocked within your schedule.
I say only eight hours of actual task time because it is crucial to build in time throughout your day for those activities that either take longer than expected or are unplanned — such as unscheduled meetings, traffic, emergencies, new projects, and family or client demands.
You may encounter certain sporadic, yet consistent activities that take up a portion of your day such as personal errands, phone calls, e-mails, administrative duties, managing employees, training, meetings, or other work related tasks.
Allocate blocks of time for these activities, so that they don’t get in the way of the activities that move you closer to your goals, such as prospecting. For example, instead of being interrupted by incoming calls and e-mails throughout the day, block out specific portions of your day to make and return calls and to respond to e-mails.
How much time do you spend on the phone or responding to e-mails? Many people complain that their work flow is constantly interrupted by phone calls or incoming e-mails. As such, they feel compelled to either take those calls or respond to those e-mails as soon as they arise, which distracts them from their scheduled activity and disrupts their focus.
Are You Interrupt-Driven?
Do you become easily diverted or distracted by situations, new tasks, or people? Consider for a moment that if your e-mail program is set to download e-mail every five minutes, in essence, you are scheduling an interruption every five minutes.
While many people feel the need to multi-task, there are similarities between managing your mindset and managing your schedule. Each activity or task that you engage in requires a change in your direction, both in action and in thought. As such, each task or activity requires a shift in your:
- Mindset and thought process
- Action and energy
- Skills and resources
- Desired outcome
If you spend time prospecting or cold calling, I would suggest separating new prospect calls from follow up calls. When you shift the focus of your energy and thoughts, you take up time. Whether it's 10 seconds or 10 minutes, that time is compounded over days, months, and years.
For example, for every five minutes that you check your incoming e-mails, you are losing one minute. That's 12 minutes per hour. In an eight-hour workday, consider that you are losing at least one hour and 36 minutes, every day!
If you are a creative person, a different mindset is required to create a marketing piece or write an article than to answer a phone call or respond to an e-mail. Allowing certain interruptions stalls or blocks the flow of creativity and affects your level of productivity. Imagine trying to play golf, tennis, and baseball all at the same time.
Consider this solution: Reset your email program to receive e-mails every four hours instead of every five minutes. While this may sound excessive, it will help you to create an effective and productive flow throughout your day. The point is to ensure that this tool continues to be productive and efficient for you.
To determine a realistic frequency when it comes to checking your e-mail, ask yourself these questions:
- "Are the bulk of my e-mails time sensitive? Does my ability to quickly respond to an e-mail determine whether or not I will earn a new customer's business?"
- "Can I still honor my prospecting campaign, provide the same level of service to my customers, and maintain my ability to attract new customers or perform my job effectively if I respond to e-mails only twice a day?"
If creating blocks of time to respond to e-mails or phone calls would compromise your ability to do your job effectively, then this strategy may not be for you. However, if you have a degree of flexibility in your job to do so, consider this alternative. Or you can respond to phone calls and emails every two hours. If two hours still doesn't work for you, try doing so every 30 minutes.
Take the next week to determine if there's a specific time during the day when you receive the bulk of time sensitive e-mails. There still may be an opportunity for you to block out designated times for responding to calls and e-mails at less frequent intervals.
Remember, this same strategy can be used for telephone calls. Whether it's once, twice, or three times a day, allocate a designated block of time to make or return calls and you will increase your productivity and free time.
Become someone who is driven by goals rather than by distractions. The more effective you are at time blocking, the greater your quality of life. If you are responsible for attracting and retaining your customers, your ability to manage your customers' expectations is a direct reflection of your ability to manage your schedule and mindset.
About Keith Rosen, MCC — The Executive Sales Coach
Keith Rosen is the executive sales coach that top corporations, executives, and sales professionals call first. As an engaging speaker, Master Coach, and well-known author of many books and articles, Keith is one of the foremost authorities on coaching people to achieve positive change in their attitude, behavior, and results. For his work as a pioneer and leader in the coaching profession, Inc. magazine and Fast Company named Keith one of the five most respected and influential executive coaches in the country.
If you're ready for better results quickly, contact Keith about personal or team coaching and training at 1-888-262-2450 or e-mail [email protected]. Visit Keith Rosen online at Profit Builders and be sure to sign up for his free newsletter The Winners Path.