Ever find yourself sitting at your desk late into the evening, looking at the five things still left on your calendar that you’d planned to get done, and lamenting, “Where did the day go?”
If you constantly feel you’re being less productive than you could be, or want to be, “time blocking” is a system that has helped me stay on task and accomplish more. It was especially helpful as I moved up through management.
With time blocking, you plan out each day of the week in advance, dedicating specific time “blocks” for each task and responsibility. When it’s time for that task, you devote 100% of your focus to it for that specific time period (ie: no checking emails during your ‘inventory management’ block until done). And for the record, emails have their own reserved space.
I found that by prioritizing work according to what was important to the success of the station and sales department in a time-blocking manner, I was more productive and my highest priorities didn’t get pushed aside by distractions.
It’s a fairly common ‘time management’ concept, so there’s quite a bit out there. Most of the tips boil down to common ones I’ve captured for our industry below:
- Determine how many hours it takes to do your job in a day… 40? 45? 50?
- Lay in ALL regular meetings—including seller one-on-one’s, department meetings, DH meetings for the week and reoccurring ones.
- If you work inventory management, give context to weekly reports, approve commission reports, etc. Schedule your time to do it.
- New business—schedule time to go on NB calls! We know it’s easy to push off prospecting. Don’t. Use time blocking to keep it a priority for sellers and for you. If you’ve got it on your calendar to make a call with a seller, you’ll make sure you have sellers who fill the slot.
- Special or Innovative sales projects—allot time to uncover, create or plan projects. And more time to implement, review, and track them.
- Coaching and training are critical to the ongoing success of the team. Will you build in once a week, twice a month, inside your weekly sales meetings? Put it on the calendar.
- Self-improvement—being a continual student is foundational to a long and successful leadership career. I plan mine weekly, whether it be podcasts, articles, books, or learning about a new industry vertical.
- And, of course, exercise. It’s good for the mind. Schedule 5-minute stretch breaks or a 20-minute afternoon walk if you tend to fall into a slump after lunch.
Almost all time-blocking guides direct one to schedule tasks that take the most focus when your attention and energy are at their peak. You know your body’s rhythms, so follow what makes sense for you.
A final bit of advice—schedule “free time” daily. There’s no doubt you’ll have a surprise each day, a meeting that goes long, a task that was more complicated than anticipated. You need time built into your schedule that allows for overflow.
There’s a big contingent of leaders who know, “If it’s on my calendar it gets done.”