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There are countless distractions that prevent you from doing the work that you should be doing to produce the results that you should be producing. There’s the chat around the water cooler, there’s the news of the day and, of course, there is the weapon of mass distraction, the Internet. This is the blatant, easy-to-identify stuff; it’s not work and it doesn’t look or feel like work.

But there are countless more distractions that don’t look like distractions. Some of them look like work, and your own company provides many of these distractions. They feel like work, but they’re not.

(Il)Legitimate Distractions

When you wake up in the morning, how many emails are waiting for you in your inbox? How many of those emails are internal emails from your own company? How many of them are requests from within your own company that ask that you to do something, request a reply, or request information? How many emails provide information of very little value to you, yet you are carbon copied on them anyway?

The internal emails you received from your company are legitimate, right? They’re important. It’s a form of communication, and this is the way your company communicates and shares information. Wrong.

Most of your email is not legitimate work. Even some email asking you for information or a reply isn’t really legitimate work. Most of it’s a distraction from the real work of sales and selling. Much of the email you receive is tasks assigned to you by other people without you ever agreeing to the task.

The email that you receive and the tasks embedded in them feel like real work. It’s real communication from within your own company and what they request of you feels important. And some of it surely is. But most of it will do nothing to improve your sales results.

This is why you should never check your email until you complete your most important tasks each day.

There’s More

Email is a brutal taskmaster, nagging you and reminding you of all the work others need from you. But wait, there’s more.

There are also meetings that are scheduled even though many have no agenda and no real outcome. Some meetings are requests for information that could be delivered faster and more effectively through a quick phone call, an email, or a report. Meetings feel like legitimate work, but many produce no real outcomes at all, let alone sales outcomes.

Then there is reporting. Your company needs information from you. You have to provide it. It’s important that you provide reports and information, but your efforts and energies here do nothing to help you acquire a new client or to better serve your existing clients.

Some work from your clients isn’t right for you either. Your client needs help with a support issue. Have you trained them that you are the only one that can help them? Does that client call, which feels like good work, mean that you are going to take five additional calls to transfer information back and forth between your operations team and your client? Are you the best person to handle that work, or would they be better served by talking to the folks that can really help them? What value are you adding to the process?

Your clients also need reports. I believe there are people within most organizations that are eminently more qualified to generate that report, none of whom are responsible for selling. You dilute yourself and your effectiveness when you do the work that should be delegated to others who create more value. This allows you to focus on the one task where no one else can create the same value: selling.

Real Work First, Lesser Work Later

I am not for a minute suggesting that you should never again open your email, nor am I suggesting that you stop making your required meetings or turning in the reports that your company needs from you.

What I am suggesting is that you make a decision as to what is really important. What are your real priorities? I am suggesting that you do the real work that produces the real results you need to produce before you do anything else. You focus on your priorities.

Opening the relationships that open opportunities should come before much of the work that shows up on your desk but is unrelated to your primary outcome (increased sales). Meetings that can be missed because you are in front of your dream client should be missed, unless they are meetings that are mandatory or that add value to your ability to produce results. Reports should be done after sales hours, if possible. Work should be delegated to the person to whom it really belongs.

There is nothing more vital to producing great sales results than protecting your time. How you invest your time will determine the results you produce. You need a better pipeline? Then you invest your time prospecting, not reading yesterday’s email. If you are deliberate, and if you live within the confines of the model sales week, you can avoid much of the illegitimate, non-results producing work the world requests of you, and you can produce the real results you need.

Just because it looks like work and feels like work doesn’t mean that it the real work you should be doing.


Are the tasks that are assigned to you by others always the best way to spend your time?

Who determines your priorities?

What are the dangers of allowing the demands of others to overrule your real priorities?

How do you eliminate non-value producing work?

What work shows up on your desk but doesn’t produce positive outcomes?

Sales 2011
Post by Anthony Iannarino on September 23, 2011

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino

Anthony Iannarino is an American writer. He has published daily at thesalesblog.com for more than 14 years, amassing over 5,300 articles and making this platform a destination for salespeople and sales leaders. Anthony is also the author of four best-selling books documenting modern sales methodologies and a fifth book for sales leaders seeking revenue growth. His latest book for an even wider audience is titled, The Negativity Fast: Proven Techniques to Increase Positivity, Reduce Fear, and Boost Success.

Anthony speaks to sales organizations worldwide, delivering cutting-edge sales strategies and tactics that work in this ever-evolving B2B landscape. He also provides workshops and seminars. You can reach Anthony at thesalesblog.com or email Beth@b2bsalescoach.com.

Connect with Anthony on LinkedIn, X or Youtube. You can email Anthony at iannarino@gmail.com

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