Editor’s note: This post is adapted from video content from our partner, Winning by Design.
Sales teams are always under pressure, especially those that work for fast-paced technology companies. With so many businesses competing for customers’ attention and budget dollars, you have to be as productive and efficient as possible to be effective. Of course, when you’re stuck working from home, that can be an even bigger challenge than usual.
To get the best results and keep your productivity high, it’s important to prioritize the tasks you have in front of you and to use proven time management techniques to get the most out of your day. Below we share three of those techniques that work just as well at home as when you’re back in the office or out pounding the pavement.
1. The pomodoro technique
This simple, timer-based approach is designed to help you become laser-focused on one activity at a time. Forget multitasking — that’s just not something that we humans are good at. Instead, choose one activity to work on, whether it’s cold calling, emailing, planning for your accounts, or anything else, and then set a timer for 25 minutes.
Make sure to switch off any potential distractions like Slack, and to silence your phone so that you don’t get any messages or alerts. You don’t want anything breaking your concentration — not even for a single second.
Once the time is up, set the timer again, but this time for five minutes. Use that time to take a break, pour yourself a cup of coffee, or message a colleague. Whatever you do, make sure that the timer is set so that your break doesn’t wind up exceeding those five minutes. And when your break is over, pick another task to focus on and go at it again for another 25 minutes.
2. Time boxing
Time boxing is a powerful tool to help you visualize what type of work you need to do and the best time to do it. It helps identify windows of time that are more effective for certain types of activities than others.
Take Monday mornings, for example. They’re probably not the best time to call or email customers because they’ll likely be busy catching up and getting ready for the week ahead. However, Monday mornings might be a great time to do some research on your accounts.
To maximize your time, combine this with the pomodoro technique. Identify what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it, and then set a timer and focus on getting it done. To take things a step further, block out times for different activities on your calendar so that you have a good sense of where you should be focusing your time and when.
3. Using quadrants
While it can be tempting to create a checklist of the things we need to do and then simply cross them out when they’re done, there’s a flaw to that approach. The fact is that we all tend to do the easiest things on the list first because it feels good to cross something off.
Instead of thinking of your to-do items as a top-down list where you’ll be tempted to knock the easy things off first, use a quadrant system to help keep you on track:
To get things done in the right order, create your quadrants on a piece of paper and spend five minutes adding everything you want to accomplish and prioritizing them accordingly.
Don’t try to do everything at once
To maintain effectiveness and hit your goals, it’s important to ignore the default way of working by doing the easy things first. Focus on what’s important and schedule time for it.
You don’t need to use every technique at the same time; start with one and become really good at it first. The best way to improve your productivity is to commit to a technique and hold yourself accountable to what you’re trying to achieve, and then see how your work performance improves.