Four Simple Ways To Take Control Of Your Time And Your Life

Jim Meisenheimer

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It's been said, “That no one has enough time yet, everyone has all that there is. " Simple concept - except when you're living your life in the multi-tasking lane.

For most of you - your reality is too much work, information overload, struggling to balance your family and your work, and not enough time to get everything done.

Well, I struggle with the same things you do. While I don't have all the answers - I do have a couple of ideas that you may find helpful.

Here are four simple ways you can take control of your time and your life:

1. Handling paperwork.

The one thing about paperwork is that it's endless. All the prognosticators who long ago said that the advent of computers would eventually eliminate paper were totally wrong - at least when I look at my desk. The junk mail you receive is never ending. Add to that correspondence from your company, from your manager, from your customers, personal bills, and everything else under the sun adds up, if you're not very careful, it adds up to one very big distraction.

The control center for most professional salespeople is the home office desk. A desk filled with clutter creates efficiencies that only worsen with more clutter. Here's a suggestion for dealing with paperwork that I personally use and have found to be very effective.

It's called the four D's:

1. Do something with it. If you can't do something with it right now - you shouldn't be touching the paperwork at all. One of the keys to efficient office management is to touch paperwork only once if at all possible. The best way to do this is to schedule time for the sole purpose of dealing with your paperwork.

2. Delegate it to someone else. Delegation isn't easy especially when you know you can perform the task better than someone else. The fact that you can perform the task better than another person is no reason for you to perform the task. First - consider the value of your time. Next - consider the priorities that take precedence over this particular task. Never, never, never do anything that you can getsomeone else to do for you. Simply stated that's the art ofdelegation!

3. Defer doing something until you have more time to deal with it. Okay, you have set aside a chunk of time to do your paperwork. One o fthe items in your stack of paper requires research and follow-up and you estimate that you'll need 45 minutes to get the job done. Defer doing anything until you can block out 45 minutes on your calendar. Just keep moving through your paperwork.

4. Dump it! That's right dump it - get rid of it. My guess is that 20 - 40 percent of everything that crosses your desk can be trashed immediately and without regret. If the worst thing does happen, that you need something you have previously tossed away, worry not, because someone else in your organization will have a copy for you.

All that paperwork that's on your desk doesn't have to be overwhelming. You realize of course that stack of paperwork isn't capable of managing itself. Rely on the four D's to maintain control of your desk. Properly managed your desk will become an asset for you instead of a major liability.

Unfortunately, when it comes to paperwork, you're either in control or out of control. It’s your choice.

2. Don't Stash It - Trash It

Are you surrounded by stuff? Of course you are - if you're like most salespeople. The tendency, when it comes to stuff, is to wait and procrastinate putting this thing we call “cleaning up" off to a later and more convenient time.

Your mind is probably riddled with these and similar thoughts.

"Not now. "

"I'll set it aside and take care of it later - when I have more time. "

"I'll rack it up by stacking it up in a neat pile. "

How would you like to immediately feel good and look good? You're thinking, who wouldn't want to pull a switch to feel good and look good. It's really quite easy and only requires a touch of discipline. Actually, it's as easy as 1, 2, 3. The only thing you need is a large trash can liner and some “reckless abandon. " Here are the easy steps:

1. Trash your office. You will really enjoy doing this - trust me. With your trash can liner in hand begin with your desk. Without re-stacking anything toss away everything that isn't absolutely essential to your selling success. Begin at one end of your desk and work your way through to the other end of your desk tossing away everything that's unnecessary to keep. This includes magazines you haven't read, files that you haven't used, projects that you haven't done, papers that you haven't filed, and notes that you haven't read. The first time you do this can be painful. But remember, if there's no pain there's no gain.

2. Trash your briefcase. Take a couple of pages from your daily newspaper and lay them on the floor. Empty the contents of your briefcase onto the newspaper that's now on the floor. Isn't it amazing, what you have accumulated and stashed away in your briefcase?

You know the drill - toss away everything that's not essential to your selling success. Everything else goes back into your now very clean and organized briefcase.

3. Trash your car. The two times your car is the cleanest is the day you buy it and the day you sell it. Depending on what you sell your car may literally become your second office. Your office on wheels can take on the untidiness of your home office if you neglect it.

Start with the trunk - what a mess that can be, and toss away everything that isn't absolutely essential to your selling success. Proceed to your car's interior so you can clean up and toss away everything between and under the seats. Now that you've trashed all the unnecessary stuff - you may as well get the car washed, and even detailed if necessary.

Ask this question often. Should I stash it or trash it? What do you think?

3. The key to finishing is starting.

Recently I did a postcard mailing to promote my No-Brainer Selling Skills Boot Camp. One side of the postcard had a photograph of a salesperson, dressed in a suit, running, with both arms extended high over his head, one with a briefcase, as he dashed across a red ribbon finish line.

It was a great picture capturing a successful moment. It reminded me, and I don't know why, that you'll never cross the finish line until you cross the starting line.

How many things are you thinking about doing that aren't getting done?

How many priorities do you have perched on the back burner in your territory?

How many things could you start doing today that would provide you with an immediate payback ($$$)?

If finished is better than perfect then starting is better than procrastination.

Before you cross the finish line you have to cross the starting line.

(Begin, dart, spring, jump, effect, enable, rouse, proceed, or breakthrough. ) What are you waiting for?

4. Maintain your focus.

Seven years ago I did a sales training program in Colorado. The meeting was held about two hours north of Denver, in a lodge situated in Roosevelt National Park. My client was, Low Alpine, a manufacturer of outdoor gear. Specifically, they made the stuff that Mt. Everest climbers use to trek up that mountain.

My two-hour presentation was scheduled right after lunch. The speaker, who preceded me before lunch, had an extremely interesting topic. He had a slide presentation showing his various attempts at climbing the incredible MT. Everest. As you might imagine it was a powerful and extremely insightful presentation about the art and dangers of mountain climbing.

There were 25 salespeople at this meeting. Their climbing gear was sold to retailers. So they knew all about the climbing business. They also new, by reputation, many of the names the speaker referred to. Throughout his presentation everyone was glued to his seat with anticipation. He mixed his stories with slides, which was extremely effective.

Just before he ended his presentation he asked the group a question. He remarked, “There's a time when you're climbing, when you can almost feel depressed. You just feel low and down. Do you know when that is?”

My imagination started to run wild especially since the highest I ever climbed wasn't even climbing, it was an elevator ride to the top of the Empire State building. I thought surely the salespeople in the audience would know the answer to his question. They responded with things that I imagined; when you first begin the climb, when you only have 100 yards left, when you reach the top, and when you begin your descent. The speaker’s body language and facial expression gave it all away - no one was even close.

I was surprised by the answer - maybe you will be too. He said, “Climbers get down when bad weather sets in. " He went on to explain that when bad weather sets in you can't see the peak - you lose sight of your goal and become easily distracted.

You might be wondering, what if anything does this have to do with time management? I see a very clear correlation. You see, like a mountain climber who can't see the peak, salespeople and entrepreneurs without clearly defined goals (daily, weekly, monthly, yearly) are more susceptible to daily interruptions and distractions, and more likely to waste your precious time resource.

You don't have to climb Mount Everest to appreciate how important your eyes focused on your goals is to achieving your ultimatesuccess in sales.

Well, that's a wrap - four simple ideas on how you can take more control of your time and your life.

This isn't intended for everyone. As a matter of fact, only those of you who are dedicated to achieving more balance in your life would be even remotely interested.

If you do want a more balanced life, you may want to take a peek at my 53 other ideas on taking control of your time and your life.

Don't click on this link unless you're very serious about achieving more balance between your family and your work.

Jim Meisenheimer is the Guru of No-Brainer Sales Training. His sales techniques and selling skills focus on practical ideas that get immediate results. You can discover all his secrets by contacting him at (800) 266-1268, e-mail: or by visiting his website:


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