We all have them. They’re a part of everybody’s day. What are they? The distractions that stand between us and getting things done. I never get tired of Peter Drucker’s definitions of efficient and effective:
Being efficient is doing things well. Being effective, on the other hand, is about doing the right things well.
In order to maximize your sales effectiveness, you’d better be good at minimizing all of those distractions in your work. Over the years, I’ve asked a lot of extraordinarily successful salespeople and sales leaders how they do it. Here’s a sampling of the answers I’ve heard from the masters:
- Maintain focus: They’re able to maintain their focus. I don’t know whether this is Yogi-inspired, Eastern meditation or simply a well-developed skill. But, in either case, some people are simply better than others at focusing. Many of these masters aren’t distracted because they are so singularly focused on what they’re doing that nothing could get in their way.
- Eliminate avoidable distractions: There are other masters who take ownership of their space. They remove the easily avoidable distractions. For example, if you’re on the phone a lot and your phone is in a position that faces a window, does the view distract you? If it does, would it help to look at a blank wall so your attention can be 100% focused on the call?
- Stay organized: How often have you been distracted because you couldn’t find something you were looking for? Sure, this is a pretty obvious idea, but sometimes the most obvious ideas are also the most useful. A lot of salespeople are naturally disorganized. If that’s you, you’d better build systems that account for it.
- Turn off your email: How often have you been working on a project, only to see an email land in your inbox that completely takes you off task. I’ll admit that, for me, every new email is like a new toy for a seven year-old: It’s so exciting to see what it is. As a result, it’s easy for me to jump over to respond (even if an immediate response isn’t warranted). The masters have time dedicated to responding to email.
- Maintain two email addresses: One email address should be personal and one should be for work. Arrange times to deal with personal emails that don’t conflict with your work requirements.
- Turn off your phone: This is one I’m still learning about, as evidenced by the Confessions of a Phone Addict. But, the masters of minimizing distractions tell me turning off their smart phones is one of the smartest (and easiest) things to do when they’re working on a project. We’ve become totally dependent on our phones. And, with so much going on inside them, it’s easy to get distracted by all they provide. But sometimes, we have to disconnect.
- Stay rested: The masters say that remaining well-rested is essential. One of the most common distractions occurs when you’re tired: Nodding off or daydreaming. We all need different amounts of sleep, but the average Adult needs between 7 and 9 hours of it. So get it!
- Take a break: If your mind is wandering away from the task at hand, take a break. The masters acknowledge that it’s impossible to remain focused on a project without interruption.
- Set small goals: One of the most effective sales leaders I’ve ever met responded to my question about how to minimize distractions with a remarkable answer: “Just break your tasks into small, bite-sized pieces. And do them!” I can’t add much to that idea.
- Use a schedule: Scheduling time to accomplish whatever tasks need to be done is a great way to actually accomplish your work. The mantra that, “I can think about that later” only delays the inevitable.
So, there you have them: A handful of ideas from masters of effectiveness. These ideas are not mine, they’re from some of the most successful salespeople and sales leaders I’ve met. They’re valuable ways to get more time by minimizing those annoying distractions we all face. -@JebBrooks