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Time Management

Top 10 Tips to Help You Sell More And Get More Done Than Anyone Else This Year Part 1

Posted by Dave Kurlan 

We attended the organizational kick-off meeting for the team with whom our 14-year old son will be playing travel baseball this year.  The organization is run by former MLB pitcher Brian Rose and one of the memorable things he said at this meeting was, "There will always be someone working harder than you."  He said, "If you take a day off, someone else will be still be working" and, "If you want to be the best you have to work harder than everyone else."   Mark Cuban said, "Work like there is someone working 24 hours a day to take it away from you."

I've always outworked everyone in my own companies so both of these quotes resonated with me. At the same time, hard work alone isn't enough.  You must also be smart and efficient about what you work hard on.  For the first article of 2017, I thought it would be helpful if I shared how I get more done than anyone else I know.

Like many CEO's of small companies, I wear many hats.  As the CEO of Kurlan & Associates & Associates, a global sales consulting firm, I run the business, produce revenue, handle accounting, meet with the leadership team, have some personal clients, conduct some of the training, and do some keynote speaking.  As the CEO of Objective Management Group (OMG), the leading provider of sales force evaluations and sales candidate assessments, I am the chief innovator for product development, select firms that will represent OMG outside of the Americas, coach OMG's partners, meet with my leadership team, and do some keynote speaking.  Running two companies isn't a 16-hour a day load, but 12-hour days are common.  So how do I get it all done?  Here are my top 10 keys to outworking everyone:

1. Say no.  One of the important things I picked up from business guru and Gazelle's CEO, Verne Harnish, is that you must identify 3 things that you won't do anymore.  I carry that theme forward on a daily basis and as opportunities, events, projects and tasks are presented to me I say no to those things that don't support either the business goals, core offerings, or personal goals and values. 

2. Calendar.  A functional calendar allows me to visually see my day, week and month.  I manage the calendar myself and don't let assistants anywhere near it.  Not only that, but entries are color-coded so that I can quickly and easily determine whether I am maintaining a balance between the two companies, between sales and delivery, and between work and family.  This is very important: I block out time, in advance, for getting work completed in between calls, appointments and meetings.  In addition to the color coding, my calendar is synced between my iPhone, iPad, Macbook Pro and iMac computers.  I use Google's Calendar syncing as the engine and on my mobile devices I have the Readdle app, and on my computers I use CalendarPro for Google

3. Automation.  I save time and aggravation by using an online scheduling tool.  Instead of going back and forth with someone to identify a time that we can meet or talk, I provide them with a link to my calendar.  I write in an email, "Would you mind using this link to my calendar to find and schedule a mutually convenient time for us to talk/meet?"  I embed a link to the scheduling tool which, in this case, is an app called TimeTrade.  You have no idea how easy this is, how much time it saves, and the thanks I get for making it so easy.

4. Lists.  I believe that my mind is sharper than it's ever been.  Sharp doesn't necessarily mean that I can remember everything I need to do each day, week and month, and you can't arbitrarily decide which things to write down and which things to remember.  So I have a no exception policy where everything I need to do is committed to a list.  As with the calendar, I use a list that syncs between my computers and mobile devices and my choice is the Wunderlist app.  I use Wunderlist because it has folders, an unlimited number of lists that can be included in each folder, and each list accommodates a sub list, notes and attachments.   I also utilize the due date and reminder options and sort the items in my lists by due date. I would be lost without Wunderlist. 

5. Auto Responder.  I turn on my email's auto responder whenever I will be unable to respond to emails for 6 business hours or more.  I don't want to appear unresponsive and my message tells people who they can contact in my absence and when they can expect to hear back from me.  I don't have to apologize when I finally do respond and that saves unnecessary typing as well.

6. Rituals. In order to be productive, I know that I must wake up at the same time each morning.  My default is 5:30 AM, which gives me an hour to respond to emails that came in overnight.  I usually have a number of emails from OMG's overseas partners, as well as CEO's who choose to work late rather than start early.  Most of my articles are written during this one-hour window in the morning as well.

7. Anti-Meeting.  Most meetings are time wasters so I don't schedule many.  I have two 10-minute morning huddle calls, one for the leadership teams of each company, at 8:15 AM and 8:30 AM and most of what needs to be communicated in either direction is accomplished during that time.  I have a weekly product development meeting for OMG, a weekly sales/client projects meeting for Kurlan, and monthly and quarterly leadership meetings for OMG.  Less is more.

8. Anti-Travel.  Some travel is unavoidable but most of what I do can be done by phone, video conference, file share, internet based collaboration and more.  Everyone is busy, travel wastes enormous amounts of time and money and it takes you away from family.  Travel is a last option, not a first option.

9. Email.  To limit incoming email that requires responding, there are a few things that help a lot.  First, unsubscribe to everything that creates noise.  Spam is impossible to unsubscribe from but if that's the only stuff in your junk folders you can do a quick review and mass delete each day.  In order to do that, it's crucial that you first add senders that you want/need to hear from, but that might end up in your junk/spam folders, to your safe sender list.  With that accomplished, you should utilize the Rules function of your email to automatically move emails that you receive every day, like newsletters, to a newsletter or subscription folder.  I also have folders called "Waiting" and "Action."  When I am waiting for a response from someone, I blind copy myself and move it to the waiting folder, and when someone is waiting for me to do something that email gets moved to the action folder and added to a list.  I never save emails in my inbox.  Instead, there are folders for every client and partner, for marketing, accounting, tools, subscriptions, etc., and emails that need to be saved are moved to the appropriate folder.  Having thousands of emails in your inbox is not efficient!

10. Family.  Nights and weekends are for family.  Family dinners and watching our son's baseball and basketball games are my number 1 evening priority - not work.  If I am behind, I may take an hour or two to catch up at night, but not until after we have spent quality time together at dinner.

I have 10 more tips on getting more done and will post them next month.

Do you have any tips that contribute to getting more done than anyone else?  Add them to the comments below!


5 Mobile Apps to Increase Productivity

prodMany of us have hit a summer slump and are looking for ways to increase our productivity. Here are some of the best apps available for iOS and Android to help you increase productivity: 1. Contactually:

Contactually is the best way to build and improve the most important relationships in your network. Smarter tools for staying in touch with the people who matter most. So why not have Contactually connected to the most important communications device you own — your phone?

2. Evernote:

Evernote is a closed source freemium suite of software and services, designed for notetaking and archiving. A "note" can be a piece of formatted text, a full webpage or webpage excerpt, a photograph, a voice memo, or a handwritten "ink" note. Notes can also have file attachments. Notes can be sorted into folders, then tagged, annotated, edited, given comments, searched, and exported as part of a notebook.

Evernote supports a number of operating system platforms (including OS X, iOS, Chrome OS, Android, Microsoft Windows, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, and webOS) and also offers online synchronisation and backup services.

Evernote is available in a paid version or a more restricted free version. Use of the online service is free up to a certain monthly usage limit, with additional monthly use reserved for Plus subscribers, and unlimited monthly use for Premium costumers.

3. Refresh:

If you have your calendar on your phone or online on iCloud, Gmail, Google apps, Yahoo Exchange, it can do proactive searches on the people you've scheduled meetings with and send you information ahead of time to help you prepare for your meeting or event. Its people detection algorithms can determine (or intelligently guess) who you are meeting, even from first names. You can correct it or tell it to ignore someone you already know well, and it does learn from repetition. However, If you do not have an online or iOS calendar (or don't keep it up), you lose a lot of the advantage, although you can still look people up by name.

You can also make your own notes on the person, including things you promised to do, common events or shared interests. The app’s developers recently added maps and photos as well, which is nice when you're wondering if a town is close to something you know. You can also find information on companies.

4. Sunrise:

Sunrise offers an enormous number of features: agenda view, week view, and month view, Google Maps previews for maps and directions, contact photos, weather, and tasteful Facebook events and birthdays integration. There's also an agenda widget for your home screen that lets you check your schedule at a glance or quickly add an event. The app syncs effortlessly with Google Calendar, and even uses Google to auto-fill locations for your events as you type them in.

5. Anasa:

Anasa is a web and mobile application designed to enable teamwork without email. It was founded by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and ex-engineer Justin Rosenstein, who both worked on improving the productivity of employees at Facebook. Asana is web based software-as-a-service for the designed to improve collaboration of teams. Main user focus is to plan and manage projects and tasks online without the use of email providing each team a workspace. Workspaces contain projects, and projects contain tasks.

In each task, users can add notes, comments, attachments, and tags. Users can follow projects and tasks, and, when the state of a project or task changes, followers get updates about the changes in their inboxes.

5 Tactics for Maximum Productivity

Increase-your-productivity-1024x768Distractions are everywhere and they are constant.  In order to get the maximum productivity out of your day, you need to block out and put your foot down.  Below are 5 tactics for gaining the maximum productivity in your work day.

Close the door – Many managers feel like they have to have an “open door” policy in order for employees to feel they are approachable.  However, you need uninterrupted time every day.  Come up with a signal (closed door, sign hung on a desk, red light) so that all employees know you are unavailable to talk with them during that time.  It is even better if you can work from home during a project that needs your complete and undivided attention.

The phone is your biggest enemy – When the phone rings, people feel obligated to answer it.  The only person who should stop everything to answer a call is a receptionist.  For all others, constantly stopping your project in order to take a call that may, or may not, be more urgent than the current project you are working on is scattering your focus and setting you up for mistakes and ineffeciency.   By doing this you are turning over control of your time and productivity to any person who decides to dial your number.  By the end of the day you will be exhausted and feel unaccomplished.

If you do not have a receptionist, use caller ID and your voicemail.  The caller ID will let you know if any VIP is calling.  If not, the voicemail will let you know if you need to postpone the project you are working on in order to handle something more urgent.

Emails and Texts – Email is one of the most useful devices to promote productivity.  Yet, many people receive 50, 100, 150+ emails in their inbox every day.  Dedicate a time in the morning and a time before the end of your work day to check your emails and respond.  Just like the urge to answer the phone every time it rings, the inclination to check and respond to emails throughout the day will keep you scattered and unfocused.

Boundaries need to be set on the allowance of text.  The most productive managers completely prohibit texting while other managers specify to text only for an absolute emergency.  Decide your own boundaries for receiving work texts but make sure you do not become a slave to your phone.

Set a verbal timer – Ideally you want to preschedule close to 100% of your phone calls each day.  Sometimes that is not completely possible.  Therefore, be sure that when you make or take an impromptu call, you set a verbal timer at the very beginning of the conversation.

8 Apps Every Entrepreneur Needs in 2014

businessman-in-airport-with-smartphone-800x532No entrepreneur builds a successful business all alone.  One of the best ways to become more efficient and build bigger businesses is through apps.  With that in mind, we've rounded up the top apps that will help any entrepreneur take the new year by storm.

  1. TrackMaven: TrackMaven is dedicated to making the lives of marketers easier, more productive, and more effective. TrackMaven makes it easy to beat your competitors and improve your marketing across paid, owned, and earned channels.
  2. EchoSign: Transform the way you work with your customers. EchoSign's complete, automated electronic signature and web contracting solution features the easiest signing experience in the industry. Instantly send, e-sign, track, and file documents securely online, so you can change the game and work more competitively with your customers and partners.
  3. MobileDay: One-Touch into ANY conference call on ANY conference provider with MobileDay®. Experience the benefits of One-Touch without having your Calendar, Contact, or Location Services data leave your iPhone or iPad.
  4. Skitch: See something that sparks an idea? Use Skitch to snap it, mark it up with simple tools, and send it on in an instant. Your bold ideas stand out even brighter with Skitch.
  5. FedEx Office: The FedEx Office mobile app allows you to seamlessly print your documents to any FedEx Office location or have it delivered at your convenience. Upload a file for printing from My Online Documents, powered by FedEx Office, from other cloud repositories, such as Box, Dropbox, or Google Drive, or from your email. You can also track the status of a shipment or job order, or find a FedEx Office location at your fingertips.
  6. Mint: Making financial decisions in real-time is easy when you can view up-to-date information about your accounts, check your budgets and edit info on the app. Buying a latte or charging concert tickets? Enter cash or pending transactions in the app right at the time purchase and instantly see your available bank and credit balances.
  7. Pocket: As entrepreneurs, we're full of great ideas, so much so that they hit us when we least expect them. Enter Pocket, a phone-based bookmarking app which can save all types of content - anything from a lengthy article to a work report -- to all your electronic devices.
  8. Email client app, a tool that lets users consolidate email subscriptions into one 'Rollup' and even unsubscribe from multiple newsletters at a time, has introduced a new service that lets users block email senders. It's called 'Contact Blocking,' and the feature allows users to now create a list of contacts that have emailed them or which are stored in their contact list and block them from getting through to the inbox.