How many hours do you work, really work, each day? Do you talk to your friends or family during working hours? How many personal emails do you send each day? Do you take a lunch break? Do you chat with co-workers? Do you surf the Internet? Do you use Facebook, MySpace or Twitter? Take smoke breaks? How many personal text messages do you send each day? Do you drive between sales calls?
If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, then you’re wasting time you could spend with your family or in any other quality activity. If you take the amount of hours you are “at work” each day and subtract the amount of hours you spend wasting time, then you’ll get the total number of hours you really work each day. When I worked in corporate America, I was at the office 9.5 hours a day, but if I subtracted the numbers of hours I spent chatting with co-workers, talking to my boyfriend, taking bathroom breaks, responding to personal emails, taking coffee breaks, surfing the Internet, and other activities not related to work, then I truly worked about five hours a day! What about you?
Be brutally honest here. Track how much time you spend each day on the following. Add the time together at the bottom.
Making personal phone calls __________________
Writing/reading personal emails __________
Eating lunch __________________________
Taking breaks/smoking __________________
Chatting with co-workers ________________
Surfing the Internet ____________________
Checking Facebook/Twitter _______________
Sending text messages __________________
Grand Total: ______________________
Number of hours you’re physically at work each day _______
Subtract Grand Total minutes/ hours from above ________
Hours you can work and still make what you’re making now _________
The grand total of hours and minutes you calculated above is exactly the number of hours and minutes you can immediately cut from your working hours.
Once my daughter was born, instead of “being at work” for eight to ten hours a day, but only truly working four or five hours, I decided to “be at work” for four hours and work every second, every minute, of that time. I found that being “in the zone” for four solid hours and not killing my momentum by taking a break or answering a phone call, my sales tripled because I made every minute count and my momentum was unstoppable. Here is my four-hour workday blueprint:
Turn Off Your Phone!
Unless your spouse is due to give birth any minute, there is no personal call, no email, no text message and no website you can’t live without for four hours. Phones are the biggest time wasters and distractions at work. In my old days, if I were having a bad sales day or feeling unmotivated, I’d call a friend and chat for an hour! No wonder my sales then were a fraction of what they are now.
Unless your phone is your key asset for doing business, have an outgoing message on your phone that says, “Hi, this is ______. Your call is important to me. I return all calls every afternoon after three o’clock so I can focus on work. Please leave a message and I’ll return your call after three today.” How difficult is that? Don’t be at your phone’s beck and call. Be in control of your schedule and your time. Tell the same to your loved ones. “Honey, I love you and appreciate you calling me during the day. But from now on, I’m going to turn my phone off every day until three so I can be more productive. I’ll call you at three.”
Phones have become such a major distraction that in the last few years when I’m training new hires how to sell insurance, I can immediately tell how successful they’ll be based on how often they take personal calls during the day. The trainees who turn off their phones and take their training seriously usually end up being very successful—because they prioritize their time. The trainees who grab their phones every time they ring end up failing miserably. A distinct correlation exists between the amount of time a person spends on the phone and that person’s level of success.
When I sold educational books in the 90’s, I didn’t have a cell phone from 1992 to1998. When ten prospects in a row slammed the door in my face, what did I do? I had no other option but to keep knocking. When I felt lonely and wanted to find my roommates, what did I do? I kept knocking. Since I had no form of communication, I was forced to deal with my emotions and simply keep working. I got my first cell phone around 1999. From that time up until a few years ago, keeping a tight schedule, handling my emotions and eliminating distractions were harder than ever. Why? Because of that little invention called a cell phone. In 1999, when ten people slammed the door in my face, I’d call my roommate. When I felt like meeting a friend, I’d call her and meet up with her. I was completely off schedule because of my phone. Now in 2009, we have phones with Internet, text messaging, Twitter, Facebook, e-books and videos. I highly suggest you leave your phone at home or be self-disciplined enough to keep your phone turned off while you’re working. If you want to have a successful career and only work four hours per day, you must focus and eliminate all distractions—including phone calls.
Mary Beth Walker
Amen! The phone and especially the cell phone, not to mention the call waiting feature, are instruments of the Devil!August 13, 2009 at 1:42 am