Buyers are crazy busy, you're crazy busy, and you're both being asked to do more with less. How do you manage it?

I recently had a chance to speak with Jill Konrath, author of More Sales, Less Time for the Quotable Podcast – Episode #29: “Beat the Clock, and Your Quota”. [Jill will be live at Sales Machine NYC 2017] Jill's book SNAP Selling, which focuses on selling to customers under pressure to do more with less time and less resources, was very successful. I was curious why she shifted her focus to personal productivity. She explained that people kept reaching out to her about how SNAP Selling had helped, but that, as sellers, they were crazy busy too. So she decided to look into it.

Jill discovered that it's no longer just about time management because we're living in the “age of distraction." As human beings we're not designed to live in this digital world with things constantly competing for our attention. We're distracted by emails, text messages, pop up ads, links, social media, and more, but we have little power over this digital distraction. Our brain (specifically the amygdala) is literally looking for things that are different. So when we go online, the amygdala jumps up and says, "hey, guys, I got it. I'll keep alert here." As Jill explains, "the worst part of our brain to be in charge takes over when we go online." And it rewards us for getting distracted.

Here are some tips I learned from Jill for getting this under control and getting more done.

1. Admit you have a problem

The first step is to admit you have a problem. As Jill points out, "I don't think any of us really realized how big a problem it is." She studied productivity experts to learn what they had to say. As a first step, they recommend tracking your time to understand how you're using it. So Jill used the app RescueTime, which runs in the background, to get a handle on what she was doing and at what times during the day. When she looked at the results, she was able to justify each thing she did individually, but looking at it in its entirety, she found that she was spending a large percentage of her time on non-productive work. Traditional time management tracking suggests logging your activities every 15 min., but in our world of digital distractions that's a long period of time. You may want to consider finding a technology to help you get a better picture of where your time is going.

2. Control the distractions

Once you understand how you're spending your time, you're ready to start taking control. It's important to understand that you'll probably need help. There are technologies that will help to block you from travelling down the rabbit hole online. Technologies like the Freedom app let you block yourself from going online or to specific sites for periods of time. So if you need an hour to just focus on that client presentation, you could block yourself during that time so you can stay more focused and productive.

Jill also found that only 15% to 17% of people alter the notifications on their devices. Most of us constantly get alerts from our computers and mobile devices, which disrupts concentration. By simply turning off notifications, you create a calmer environment, preventing yourself from being pulled away.

Do you leave apps like your email running in the background? Jill recommends shutting them down. If they're open in the background, you're more likely to use them. Shut down anything you're not currently working on to help you narrow your focus.

3. Make time for the priorities

Being responsive is important, but do all of your emails really need an immediate reply? Jill found that by shifting from constantly checking her email, to only checking it at certain points in the day gave her better results. Checking your email frequently interrupts your focus on the other important work you need to get done.

Why is it so important to get this under control? Sales productivity is a huge KPI (key performance indicator) for many leaders because they are being asked to accomplish more with teams that aren't growing, and in some cases shrinking. Spending less time bouncing between activities improves the quality of your thinking and your work, while requiring less time to get things done. Adding another hour to your day of solid work time can make a huge difference for your sales.

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