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Podcast: To Do Lists vs. Scheduling

Oct 21, 2019, 5:15:00 AM

Monday Morning Manager

Symptoms:

Marcus found himself sitting in his car, in his driveway but still felt lost. For some reason, this feeling was a more regular occurrence for Marcus at the end each day.  It was as if the one or two things he was supposed to remember to accomplish would come to him if he just didn't turn off the engine and open his car door. So there Marcus sat. Worried. Confused. Afraid. What if the missing item that never made it to his To Do List cost him a big opportunity, or even worse, cost him his job? Being so busy was a good thing in most cases, but Marcus also found himself feeling overwhelmed and out of control when his memory failed him in moments like this. And even a quick check of his To Do List offered no help.

Diagnosis:

Sales is a constant exercise in priority management. And one of the hardest challenges to overcome deals with having a good memory that rarely allows you to forget what must get done. Too often the best intention gets run over by the flood of information, customer service requests, follow ups from sales meetings, and the constant emails that find you. Relying on your memory to keep it all fresh and in the right priority might be a fatal mistake if you forget the important request your biggest customer asked you to deliver. Being too busy to write things down just might mean you are too busy to succeed. Believing all items on a To Do List deserve the same attention means there are no real priorities. Everything becomes one big fire drill as the pressure mounts and you can't sort out the most important items from the least important. Marcus may have been trying so hard to remember everything that he inadvertently forgot what mattered most.

Prescription:

First, commit to the belief that the dullest pencil has a better memory than the sharpest mind. Train yourself to write things down as soon as you hear them. Don't trust yourself to remember about a follow up when you get back in your car after the appointment. Use the electronic device or even the trusty old pen and paper to keep track of your commitments. Become a deliberate note-taker and allow your mind to work on the present conversation or task instead of trying to keep everything you did today sorted out for your proper attention later. You might even take this one step further: schedule everything you need to get done just like it is an appointment. Block off time to do follow-ups, make prospecting calls, respond to emails, or anything else that your job requires you to do as a sales professional. Break the habit of waiting to get around to things. Commit to the activities that lead to your long-term success, and don't trust your memory to do it all for you.

Critical Thinking:

Today's lesson works well with a previous lesson- name your days. By using a pencil and a calendar to schedule your follow up tasks, not simply jotting them down on a never-ending list, you are helping to also name your days and make better use of your time. 

Have you been working to name your days and being more deliberate with your time?

The Drill: 

Final Thoughts for the Morning:

Fun memory quote from the internet:
I learn something new every day, but forget five other things forever. 

"Sometimes our stop-doing list needs to be bigger than our to-do list." ~ Patti Digh