Are you struggling to meet your targets? Feeling like you’re always behind and never quite catching up? It’s time to take control of your time and start tracking your proactive time.
That’s right, by tracking the time you spend on activities that you control, you can start to take back control of your day and achieve those elusive targets. And it’s not as difficult as it might sound.
In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of tracking and managing your proactive time, how to do it, and some common pitfalls to avoid. So let’s get started!
The Benefits of Tracking and Managing Proactive Time.
The most important benefit of managing your proactive time is increased productivity. Becoming aware of how you are spending your time allow you to plan and make adjustments to ensure that you are using your time in the most productive way possible. For example, if you discover that you are spending too much time on incoming support requests from small D-customers, you can find smart ways of minimize this time, and adjust your schedule to allocate more time to major customers. If you have decided that you need to prospect a certain number of new customers, then for a certain number of hours per day you must give priority to this over incoming requests even from large customers. And so on. It’s all about YOU deciding what to do with the time.
Improved Time Management.
One clear benefit from monitoring and following your proactive time is improved time management in general. When you understand where your time goes, you can actually start managing it. You will make better decisions about how to use your time in the future. For example, if you find that you are spending a lot of time on tasks that do not produce results, you can decide to focus on different tasks in the future. This means that not only your immediate productivity goes up, but also your ability to make better and more powerful plans increases.
A chance to actually follow your plan!
And finally, by tracking your proactive time it gives you back control – a chance to actually follow your plans and turn them into reality. Too often, people make plans but then do not follow through with them. By tracking your proactive time, you can hold yourself accountable and make sure that you are actually following through with your plans.
How to Track Your Proactive Time.
So, the first step to gain back control over your time, is to know where you stand today. You need a simple way to monitor your time spent. Most time awareness initiatives that fail do so because people reject the notion of spending additional time administering and registering every move. Don’t add to your burden. Use existing sources.
In order to get an a picture of where you spend your time, start with the places where your activities were registered for the last two weeks (or any period you want to include). I normally look at my Calendar (exporting all activities and meetings in a list with activities and their durations) and logged CRM activities (if you have customer activities logged, and you should). This will give you a good idea of how much time you actually spend on customer-related activities, as well as how much time is spent on other tasks.
Categorise your activities in terms of
- PROACTIVE Customer work that is part of my sales plan – planned proactive time
- REACTIVE Customer work – initiated by customer (requests, support, firefighting)
- other: non-customer related tasks in outlook. This will help you see where most of your time is being spent, and whether or not you’re able to focus enough attention on customers.
- Other tasks that you don’t log. Try to estimate. One way of thinking could be that all inside a 40 hour week that is not in any of the previous categories,
Later on, you may want to start using tags and categories on your meeting calendars to make the analysis bit easier.
Determine the % share and hours of each category
Once you’ve categorised your activities, it’s helpful to determine the percentage share and hours spent in each category. This information can be used to create a more balanced schedule that allocates more time for customer-related tasks.
Make a plan that you can comitt to!
If you want to improve your productivity and actually achieve your goals, you need to commit to proactive time – time that you control, rather than reacting to the demands of others.
Set realistic targets on proactivity
Set an objective on time that you will spend pursuing your plans. How much available sales time do you really have?
It’s not realistic to expect ALL the time to go to the plan and proactive selling. Assuming that all available time goes into the planned activities will almost certainly make any salesplan fail. How much time should go to incoming requests, problem-solving, firefighting, internal meetings, trainings etc?
Block and Allocate Time
Once you have a good understanding of where your time goes, it’s time to start setting timers to allocate specific blocks of time for proactive activities. For example, you might set a timer for 30 minutes to work on a specific task, and then take a 5-minute break before starting the next task.
Daily follow up on the committed time
Be sure to follow up with yourself daily to ensure that you’re still on track. Instead of focusing on the individual tasks in your plan, look at the global picture. Did you really use all the time you had set aside for the Proactive work?
If you do this at the end of each day and a make a small note of it, the end of the month checkup will be so much easier, and you can do small adjustments along the way.
Take back control of your Email Inbox!
Your email inbox is your best friend and worst enemy at the same time, .It is helpful to control it to reduce the amount of hassle and overload. Here are a few ways to do this:
- First, set up email templates for conversations you have on a regular basis. This will save time and you won’t have to spend time thinking about the perfect response.
- Next, create a folder filing system for your inbox quickly. This will help you organize your inbox quickly and make it easier to find emails that need a response by the end of the day or week.
- Last, set aside and block time each day to respond to emails rather than reacting as you receive them. Unless an email is urgent and requires your immediate attention, give yourself an allotted amount of time to focus and prepare it for the next day.
Make proactive time allocation a part of objectives
It’s also important to make proactive time allocation a part of your overall objectives. This way, you can hold yourself accountable and ensure that you’re making progress towards your goals.
Common Pitfalls in Proactive Time Management
One of the most common pitfalls when working with your proactive time is overcommitting and planning in too many objectives simultaneously. This happens when you try to allocate too much time to too many tasks, or when you try to do too much in one day. It was most likely happening before your started proactive time management, but then you didn’t have the data to identify the problem.
When this happens, it’s important to take a step back and reassess your priorities. Try to focus on the most important tasks, and cut back on the number of tasks you’re trying to accomplish in one day.
Another challenge is when all those incoming customer requests continue to interfere with your allocated time blocks. It’s important to remember that you can’t control everything, and that some things will always come up that you didn’t plan for. Try to be flexible with your time, and if a customer request comes in that you weren’t expecting, see if there’s any way to pass it on the right channels, or find ways to work it into your schedule.
The big secret to hitting targets is to commit to and manage your proactive time. By doing this, you can increase your productivity, improve your time management which in the end will allow you to finally follow your plan. There are different tools available, including prospecting aids, CRM software, calendar management, automation, and pre-scheduling breaks. Blocking and Allocating time with pre-scheduled breaks and better Email Inbox control are other strategies that can be used to make the most your day.
To track and manage your proactive time, study your last two weeks, categorize your activities and set objectives to allocate time. Then, make a plan that you can commit to and follow up on daily. Some common pitfalls when tracking proactive time include overcommitting, continued incoming customer requests, and focusing on too many goals at once. Take a moment of reflection every afternoon and take not of the day. Did you decide what to do today? Or did someone else?