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Working in sales may mean you’re part of a team, but typically each member is carving their own path with their clients and goals. Working in this way requires a great deal of self-management to remain focused and productive. There are plenty of apps and tools you can employ to assist you in self-managing. But — success starts with the individual, and not the app.
Here are tips to follow in order to achieve success in self-management.
You may think that the key to success is multitasking, but the truth is: multitasking is impossible and kills productivity. You’re forcing your brain to focus on multiple projects or scenarios at once, splintering your attention as well as your ability to produce the best outcome. You’ll find your to-do list becomes lighter more quickly when you focus on one task at a time, giving it your full attention for a designated period of time.
Which leads to the next point: schedule everything! To prevent bouncing from your email to your voicemail to a client contract and back again, designate a block of time each day for individual tasks.
Studies suggest that scheduling low priority work during low-energy times (after-lunch lull, anyone?) is best. Keep a regular time for emails, calls, projects, KPI review, etc. The predictability of your schedule will retrain your focus and free up time for new, creative endeavors you want to pursue.
But when you’re considering your schedule, also consider your habits and why they work for you. If you are not a morning person, do not schedule your most important calls or meetings for 9 AM. Set yourself up for success by building on your current habits that work for you.
Ask yourself these questions when you’re evaluating yourself: “What do you care about most? What do you not care about at all?” Then, make sure the things you care about make it into your routine every day. As for what you don’t care about? Reimagine them in a way that excites you—like making your cold calls from your bed instead of desk because you’re more at ease, for example. Don’t force yourself to do something in a way that makes it unattainable. You’re setting yourself up for failure.
Even though it’s important not to force yourself into self-managed submission, you still need to step out of your comfort zone from time to time. This does not require you to put yourself in situations that spike your anxiety, but ones that beget growth.
If you find yourself wanting to rank highest on your company’s performance leaderboard, but fall short because you don’t welcome that kind of attention, continue to push and prioritize your goals. You may find you’re okay with being in the limelight of first place among your sales team. Don’t let a little discomfort hold you back from reaching new heights.
There will be times that stepping out of your comfort zone or approaching projects differently will be daunting. This is when you ask for advice and feedback from your manager and peers.
Working solo can make it impossible to see beyond your own thought process—you may not know how to step outside or reimagine anything after a while. Rather than stagnating your progress, ask questions and ask them quickly. Success rarely comes to someone who isn’t always learning and responding to advice and feedback.
It’s easy to be short-sighted when you’re working on pieces of a project—the goal, in the moment, is simply to finish the task. But, in focusing on the parts rather than what they are trying to build leads to missed connections—and more work.
Consider your long-term or broader goal of a project or task and work backwards to understand the best way to connect the various components. Using Key Performance Indicators to start at the end creates pathways you would not normally take and prevents you from being stuck on a small, and possibly insignificant, piece.
The ultimate key to success is putting your needs first. Are you happy? If the answer is no, it’s time to rethink your routine. Are you overcommitting to work and burnt out or losing time you need for self-care and your social connections?
Allotting time for something that makes you happy is life-giving. If yoga helps you reset or leaving the office at five o’clock incentivizes you to work more efficiently, spend 30 days doing it and at the end ask yourself once again: Are you happy?