Time Management Skills for Increased Productivity

Time management is an essential part of becoming a successful entrepreneur. The ability to make full use of time can have a huge impact on productivity and is one of the contributing factors in growing a business.

Acquiring this skill takes discipline, having the right mindset, and the right tools to get the job done. This can be achieved with modern business applications, time management tools, and CRMs such as Small Business Dream.

First, we’ll take a look at how to identify the problems and difficulties that limit our ability to stay focused and be more productive. Next, we’ll explain some ways to take control of our time and introduce a CRM application to enhance time management skills of business owners and the workforce.

Eliminate Distractions from Work

Distraction is the thief of time. Many businesses are losing a lot of money due to unproductive use of time. Unfortunately, most of them are pretty common in the workplace. Recent surveys reveal that nearly half of the working hours are lost to unrelated activities such as making personal calls or using the social media and the Internet for non-work purposes.

Eliminating distractions from work frees up a lot of time on your daily work schedule and allows you to accomplish more than you used to. Some distractions are unavoidable, but for the most part, being distracted is a matter of choice.

Keep a Record of Time Usage

The first step to mastering your time is to trace back how many hours you’ve spent on a given task. If you’re like a lot of people and don’t know what you do half the time, using a time tracker will be useful in monitoring where you’re spending your efforts. You don’t need to use a fancy app or program. Just grab an excel sheet or print one off online.

Using a time tracker, people can spot the problems right away. They’ll be surprised to know how much of it is squandered away on activities that have nothing to do in achieving their goals. Others find they are spending too much time on tasks which have little or no impact to their job.

Try to recall everything you’ve done on regular work days and make an estimate of how much time you’ve spent on each one. If possible, include every distraction, idle hours, and other non-related activities in between.

Notice how much time you’ve used on each group of tasks. Sort them out according to the ones that have the greatest impact to your line of work to the least ones. Using this information, you can map out a strategy to maximize your time, eliminate time-consuming tasks, and concentrate on the most important ones.

The ideal number of hours spent on each task usually depends on one’s role. For business owners and seniors who need to coordinate tasks and make corporate decisions, they are most productive doing leadership roles in key areas. Micromanaging every task may not be the best use of time for this type of work.

Organize and Prioritize Your Tasks

There are different approaches to organizing and prioritizing tasks. Some authors encourage doing the most difficult ones first and the easier ones last. These tasks usually have the biggest impact to productivity and they can have serious consequences if not acted upon immediately.

Among the different approaches include:

  • The 80/20 Rule
  • “Eat that Frog”
  • ABCDE Method

The 80/20 Rule is probably the oldest, yet the most powerful principle that applies not only in business but in almost every aspect of life. The rule states that out of every 10 things that must be done, only 2 of them will have the greatest impact in achieving your goal.

After reviewing how much time is spent during a typical working day, you can start identifying the most important ones depending on the type of work you have, or what roles you need to fulfill for the company.

For business owners, they need to prioritize tasks that revolve around their role as decision-makers and overseers. Sales and marketing teams will have to focus more on customer-oriented tasks such as customer acquisition, follow-ups, and closing deals. Smart companies use CRM to increase productivity in these areas and boost sales.

Small Business Dream is one of the best examples of CRMs that help sales and marketing teams deal with every customer-oriented task and reduce a significant amount of time collecting, organizing, prioritizing, and updating customer information.

The “Eat that Frog” principle was coined by Mark Twain, who said “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

While a bizarre example, it is another approach to prioritizing the most important tasks of the day. Doing the important tasks first, allows you to have the best output since you’re working from a fresh start when your energy is high. For sales people, they need to check on their prospects and customers first before proceeding to their next task. Some CRMs have certain features that force them to deal with those tasks first when they go to work.

Small Business Dream’s Action List will show up every contact they have to link up via social media or phone calls within the day. Failure to communicate with anyone on the list could mean missed opportunities or customers losing interest in the company. This could cost you hundreds, even thousands of dollars, in potential income.

The ABCDE Method is a way of organizing each task based on their implications for the overall outcome.

The ABCDE Method stands for:

A-tasks – These are tasks that only you alone can do and will have serious consequences if not completed within the day. Following up on a key customer is considered an A-task.

B-tasks – These tasks need to be done, but not necessary in achieving immediate goals. These tasks can wait and should be addressed only after completing all the A-tasks. Consequences are minimal for B-tasks (e.g., reading emails, and checking on low priority customers)

C-tasks – These tasks contribute little in achieving company goals and objectives. These tasks are optional and don’t have any consequence at all.

D-tasks – These tasks can be done by anyone else. Delegating small tasks gives you more time to focus on your main objective. Hiring a VA can help you skip most of your routine tasks and work on your main task right away.

E-tasks – These tasks serve no real purpose and are not necessary for getting the work done. Hence, they must be eliminated.

Plan Your Day Ahead of Time

An hour spent in planning can save you ten hours executing them. Make it a habit to spend an extra hour planning on how you can tackle the job the next day.

Planning not only organizes your thoughts on how to spend the day; it also makes you more confident that you can accomplish your goal because you’ve already planned for it.

List down all the tasks that need to be done and prioritize them according to importance. Apply the 80/20 Rule and focus on things that matter most, first and foremost.

If you have to handle interruptions from work, include them in your schedule. Block off your time and refrain from doing two things at once.

Learn CRM to Manage Time Wisely

Small Business Dream sales and marketing CRM contains many useful features to help business owners and sales people achieve phenomenal growth by focusing on high-priority tasks such as following up with customers on the Action List through social media and phone calls, adding notes about a particular customer, leaving a message and re-scheduling the next appointment at a pre-determined date. Opt-in customers and visitors in the Sales Funnel are added instantly to the Action List.

Sales teams can concentrate on other customer-oriented tasks after completing the Action List for just an hour or two. If the volume of incoming customer information from walk-in visitors and customers gets too high, they can use Small Business Dream’s Card Scan function and save a lot of time transcribing all the customer information.

Take your business to the next level through sales and marketing automation. Visit SmallBizDream.com and start using our suite of tools to increase your sales and profitability like never before.

Increase Productivity with These 2 Important Principles

Increasing sales is the number one priority in nearly all kinds of businesses. However, in order to increase productivity, they also tend to put a lot of stress to their workforce, especially when they require everyone in the team firing on all cylinders 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week.

People on top – the management – are often caught in a dilemma between increasing the company’s productivity and preventing a high attrition rate caused by too much wear and tear to their workforce or being forced to  take desperate measures to accomplish their goal.

Is it really possible for companies to increase revenue without increasing the amount of work? Is there a better solution to hiring more people working for less pay, or laying off half of the employees and let the other half do twice the amount of work?


Principles to Live By

Economists and business experts have looked into this and found out a recognizable pattern that holds true in almost every aspect of life. Two of the most important principles that apply to productivity in work, business, and management are known as the 80/20 Rule and the Parkinson’s Law. These two will serve as the overarching principle throughout the discussion in increasing productivity in sales.


Principle #1
The 80/20 rule

Management consultant, Joseph M. Juran believes that quality work deserves more attention than menial tasks because they have the greatest impact in the overall output. He borrowed this idea from Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto who noticed that only 20% of the population makes 80% of the money.

Using the same principle at work, this means that out of all the work we do, only 20%of it produces most of the results we see. Hence, you will need 80% of your effort in 20% of all your tasks that deliver most of the results in order to achieve maximum efficiency.

To put things in perspective, imagine that you have two lumberjacks and both of them need to fell ten trees for that day. One of them came right at it and started chipping off small bits for hours with a dull axe head while the other one sat down and spent an hour sharpening his.

In terms of multiple tasks per day, this means that if you have ten tasks, you need to find the first two that have the greatest impact to your productivity and concentrate on them first. This applies not only in sales, but in almost any kind of work. 


Principle #2
The Parkinson’s Law

Another principle that was found to have a great impact to productivity came from a British author and historian, C. Northcote Parkinson – known for his adage, “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

Essentially, what he meant is that in most cases people are just using up their time doing things that could have otherwise been accomplished in a short period of time if they have simplified the task.

He also believes that, “expansion means complexity; and complexity decays.” People can do a lot of things at a given time but achieve so little because most of it is just ‘fake work’, or things that don’t necessarily contribute to productivity and are only meant to fill the time.

Unlike the first principle, this is actually something you want to break away from. But knowing, as they say, is half the battle. You need to discern what is ‘real work’ – which is the first step to being more productive – and what are those that are just ‘time-wasters.’


Its Implication to Sales Productivity

These principles can be applied in sales for increased productivity. But first, here are some common ‘time-wasters’ companies and sales reps need to be aware of.

Whenever possible refrain from these activities:

  • taking calls or responding to emails in the middle of a highly cognitive task (tasks that require focus and concentration)
  • chatting with co-workers while doing work at the same time
  • spending too much time on low-quality leads
  • doing tasks manually and repetitively
  • starting from scratch every single time
  • going back and forth from one task to another (task-switching)
  • frequent meetings and seminars
  • ‘majoring on minors’

Most of the things mentioned above can be done more efficiently if we block our time and focus only on the task at hand. Studies have shown that task-switching (others call it multi-tasking which is more appropriately said about CPUs than the human brain) is actually counterproductive to work and can have financial and psychological consequences.

Most of the tasks in the office can now be accomplished much faster and with less effort using technology. Millennials, generally speaking, have no problem adapting to modern technology since they live and breathe technology by the time they were born. And this is why they are the most sought after employees in today’s highly competitive atmosphere.


Best Practices to Increase Productivity in Sales

Now that we have a clear understanding about the underlying principles that govern productivity, let’s look at how we can apply it to sales. Here are some of the best practices employed by sales team to boost productivity and the company’s revenue.

Plan and prioritize. This may sound simple until you realize you can’t prioritize everything. You need to take a step back and reflect which part of your job needed more time and concentration and which ones can be done on autopilot.

List down all your tasks and rate them according to importance, urgency, and repercussions if not met within that day. In this example, we have arranged the task from A to E; A being the greatest and E being the least.


A.  Following up on prospects and customers

B.  Sorting out and evaluating leads

C.  Identifying problems and customer needs

D.  Creating possible solutions

E.  Clerical work

You may also need to trim down your list or delegate tasks, especially the ones which are not directly related to your line of work or expertise. If your focus is lead conversion and you have a marketing department which specializes in qualifying leads for sales, let them do the job for you.

Read:  Time Management Skills for Increased Productivity

Set your goal high. Remember Parkinson’s Law about work? If you plan on using 40 hours to accomplish a certain amount of tasks, you are bound to think that you have plenty of time to spare so you end up using most of it on trivial matters.

But if you set the bar higher for yourself, and restrict yourself by finishing the task earlier than expected instead, you’ll realize you can actually do more, and, in the context of sales productivity, convert more leads than what the company sets for you at a certain period of time.

By having a self-imposed deadline, you are challenging yourself to be more efficient and clear your list of useless, unproductive tasks that gets in your way.

Utilize technology to your advantage. Most of the tasks that were done by a small team of employees can now be accomplished by single person with the right tools and skill sets at his disposal.

This rids the company a significant amount of time-consuming and repetitive tasks and instead focuses on things that really matter like creating a system to better improve customer service, and help sales and marketing teams achieve more without sacrificing quality time.

One great example being used by accomplished sales and marketing teams is CRM app which features customer acquisition tools, sales and marketing automation and sales funnel for collecting customer information, tracking down customer activity, conducting automated and semi-automated follow-ups.

Read: How Technology Is Changing Sales Forever


Increased productivity doesn’t always mean increasing the amount of work or workforce of a certain company. Technology and human ingenuity have already gone a long way to cut down the amount of work and time spent on task.

Perhaps you need a modern approach to increase the efficiency of your sales and marketing team in your small business. If so, having good CRM with the right features and easy-to-use interface could be your best option.

Small Business Dream is a sales and marketing app aimed at increasing productivity by simplifying tasks and unlocking the power of sales and marketing automation for your workforce. Learn how at www.smallbizdream.com.