There is no such thing as “time management.” There is only “me management.” All you can really manage is how to invest the your focus, your attention, and your energy.

Some people make the mistake of starting the week with no plan and no goals to speak of. They allow the world to act on them, instead of being proactive and doing meaningful work. This is order-taker behavior.

Other people have enormous lists of things they are going to each day. Their lists are so long, in fact, that it destroys their ability to be productive. Without making some determination as to what is really important, you can feel busy even though you really aren’t working.

To be effective, you have to plan your weeks and your days. One way to make sure that you invest your time in what is really important is to pick three tasks to compete each day. Here is a framework for choosing those three tasks.

Start with the most critical outcome

What is the most important outcome that you need to produce today?

The most critical outcome you might need to produce might be a conversation with a client about an opportunity. It might be a conversation with your manager about some area where you need her help. It might be ensuring that your dream client receives the answers to the follow up questions they asked after you presented your ideas.

It’s likely you know what you need to do. Sometimes we don’t do the work that gives us the outcomes that we really need because they are difficult or require uncomfortable conversations. Other outcomes would require that we do some boring, mundane task that might easily be put off for a couple days.

Do your most important task and work towards your most critical outcome first each day.

Start with your best opportunity

What is the most important outcome you need to produce as it pertains to the best opportunity you are pursuing?

Take a look at your pipeline. What is the most important task you need to complete in order to move that opportunity forward?

Most salespeople would benefit from a pipeline review that requires them to define the next action necessary on all of their real opportunities and commit to a date by which they will take that action.

Start with something that isn’t urgent

What task or action can you take today that is not urgent but critically important to you overall success?

Prospecting is never urgent until it is—and then it’s too late. Nurturing your dream clients is never urgent, either. Many of the actions you need to take in order to be a top 20-percenter aren’t urgent at all; they are just critically important to your success.

Committing to take action on non-urgent, critically important tasks each day prevents you from being managed by the urgencies of others and, more importantly, it ensures that you do what really needs to be done in order to succeed.

To improve your effectiveness, pick three tasks and each day, and make them count.


How do you decide how to invest your time each day?

How do you ensure that you focus on the most important tasks and outcomes first?

What do you to prevent yourself from being enslaved to the urgent at the cost of your long-term success?

What challenges do you have as a salesperson that might be improved by your being more proactive each week?

Sales 2012
Post by Anthony Iannarino on January 1, 2012
Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an author of four books on the modern sales approach, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. Anthony posts here daily.
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