Here's Chapter 1 from my newest book, More Sales, Less Time. See if you can relate! And, if so, please realize that it doesn't have to be this way.
Every time someone would ask me, “How’s it going?” I’d answer with a smile and a twinkle in my eye: “Crazy busy!”
It was like I was wearing this as a badge of honor. In some perverse way, it made me feel important to say that.
While I might have fooled others that my life was great, I didn’t fool myself. Underneath my chipper exterior, I was struggling.
In sheer frustration, one day I decided to record everything I did from sunup to sundown. I wanted to see my life as it actually was and perhaps find a way to improve it. I was tired of the “crazy” part being so accurate.
What I discovered was pretty ugly, but I’m sharing it with you anyway. Perhaps this day will even feel familiar to you. Here it is, a typical day in my life before I started my productivity makeover.
It’s 7:15 on Thursday morning. Time to get up. I immediately head downstairs to feed the cat and make a pot of coffee. While it brews, I run upstairs, get dressed, and make myself presentable for the day. As soon as I’m done, I head back downstairs, pour myself a big cup of coffee, add a little cream, plop down at the kitchen table, and pick up my cell phone to start e-mail triage.
I quickly go through all the messages that came in overnight, deleting as many as I can, as quickly as humanly possible. It makes me happy to delete these messages—now I have fewer things to do for the day. I reward myself by playing a few games of Words with Friends. I then scan my favorite news feeds to catch up on world affairs.
After a half hour or so, it’s time to get to work. I take my smoothie out of the refrigerator, refill my coffee, grab my phone, and head to my office, which overlooks the woods behind our house. This seventeen-second commute completed, I sit down at my desk and open my e-mail to read and respond to the messages I’d deemed important enough to save.
Before I know it, I’m sucked into an article from one of my newsletters: “108 Game-Changing Sales Statistics.” There’s a reference in it to some fascinating statistics, so I track the information to its source, opening that study in a new tab, which I save to read for later.
Then I kick my own butt back to work, prepping for a project I’m doing with one of my clients. It’s hard work, involving multiple interviews and customizing a program tailored specifically for their reps. I review my notes, immerse myself in their case studies, and start to think about how I’ll structure the program.
As I do, I look outside and notice that it’s getting overcast. I wonder if it’ll rain later, so I open my weather app to check things out. Fortunately, the storms aren’t rolling in until tonight. Okay, back to work.
Even as I try to get back to the project at hand, I start thinking about the meeting I have with a prospective client later this afternoon. It’s a toughie. My prospect is really struggling to get everyone on board. It seems like all five people involved in the decision have totally different agendas. I ask myself, What will it take for them to all agree?
I head over to LinkedIn to learn more about the decision team. When I land on my LinkedIn home page, I’m greeted by a strategically placed promo for an e-book called How I Leveraged LinkedIn to Close a $100,000 Deal. Of course, I can’t pass this up, so I click on the link, register for the e-book, download it, and then take a quick peek. Good stuff, I think. But I better get back to work.
Back on LinkedIn, I review the profiles of the stuck team members, taking notes on how I can create a connection with each of the individuals. I think about the best way to handle this conversation, the questions I want to ask, and the best possible outcome. I open a tab on my browser to review the company website.
As I do, an alert pops up about a breaking news story. I click on it to learn more. While on the news site, I quickly scroll down to see if there are any updates about the presidential election. When no fresh articles pop to the top, another headline captures my attention: “You’ll Never Believe What Kim Kardashian Is Wearing Now.” Much as I hate myself for it, I can’t resist clicking.
After a quick look (I’m not impressed!), I notice another headline below her photo: “Mother Cat Brings Her Kittens to Meet an Unlikely Old Friend.” Within seconds, I find myself watching a heartwarming video of a big dog playing with the mother cat’s two teeny kittens.
Oops! I still need to prep for that meeting I have later today. It’s hard figuring out the best way to get everyone to reach a consensus. After a few minutes, when nothing good comes to mind, I remember a presentation I did for a similar client a few months ago. I open it up to check it out.
While reviewing that presentation, another thought pops into my head: I wonder if Natalie has gotten back to me yet. I open my e-mail for a quick check and see seven new messages. I might as well read them all right now as long as I’m in my , I think. I respond to all the messages requiring my input.
I finally close my e-mail to focus in on that upcoming meeting again. I stare blankly at that old presentation, still stuck. I wait a few more minutes for an epiphany to hit, but none emerges. When I look at the clock, I see that it’s 11:45, so I head to the kitchen to heat up a bowl of soup for lunch. I bring my computer out to the table so I can brainstorm some more about that meeting while I eat. I jot down a few thoughts, some questions to ask, and an issue I want to bring up.
As I eat my soup, I remember that I forgot to congratulate Anthony, my new client, on his recent promotion. Back into e-mail I go to jot off a quick note. As I do, I see that another message has just arrived from Ravi, who’s having a billing problem. Darn. He’s an important customer, I think. I better take care of it now. I send off a message to my assistant. I also see an e-mail from CeCe. She has some questions regarding the recent proposal. Yup. I need to tackle that one now too if we want to close the deal this month.
Before I know it, it’s time for my afternoon meeting. I head back to my office for the call, which lasts nearly an hour. It goes okay, but clearly it’s going to be tough to reach a consensus on our direction. I’m smart enough not to fool myself about the likelihood of success. And I can’t help but consider how much time I’ve already invested with this prospect. I briefly wonder if I could have done anything different to prepare for the meeting. When no new insight strikes, I decide to check e-mail instead.
I then take a quick look at my to-do list. Argh. There are a few prospects I need to connect with today; I can’t put that off any longer. I dash off a few e-mails and make several follow-up calls. Thankfully, no one answers the phone, so I leave messages.
When I look at the clock again, it’s 4:30. I need to contact a friend about a birthday party we’re throwing together. I also want to check in on my mom, as she’s been having some health issues.
Before I know it, the “official” workday is over—but I’m not done. I barely made a dent in the client project I started working on that morning. I don’t know how I’m going to get it done. Seriously. Clearly, I’ll have to dig in later tonight and try to make some progress. I don’t have any choice, actually. It’s what people pay me to deliver—and I don’t disappoint them.
Except now I feel further behind than I did starting the day. After cooking my favorite chicken stir-fry recipe (which is quick to whip up) and having dinner with my husband, I drive to the grocery store. While waiting for the stoplight to turn green, I check my e-mails. At the store, I quickly stock up on the essentials. Then, as I wait impatiently in a long line to check out, I take a look at my e-mail again.
During the course of the evening, while watching a bit of TV and working on that project, I’m on and off e-mail a few more times. I manage to pull together an initial workshop outline but it still needs flushing out. I play a couple more rounds in my Words with Friends game, hop onto Facebook to see what’s happening there, pop over to Twitter to see if there’s anything new I should be aware of—and LinkedIn again too.
I then go upstairs and get ready for bed. Before I shut down for the night, I check e-mail one last time. Don’t ask me why—I’m certainly not going to reply to anyone at that hour. Maybe I just like to end the evening deleting one last message from the next day’s stock.
I feel like I’m a rat on a treadmill who’s not allowed to stop. But that’s how I’d been working for the past few years.
I wouldn’t be surprised if your day resembles what mine used to look like. If so, I encourage you to check out More Sales, Less Time. It saved my life! And, changed how I worked entirely. I know you'll get lots of value out of it!