A few years ago, my wife bought four-flat pack wardrobes, which needed assembly. These times are not exact, but roughly it took me forty-five minutes to assemble the first wardrobe. The second took around thirty-five minutes, the third around twenty-five, and I finished the fourth in under twenty. The more I repeated the same task, the quicker I got. This is the advantage in grouping your tasks. The more you do of the one type of task, the more efficient you become.
We recommend to leaders that, when they conduct first interviews with prospective salespeople, they conduct at least fifteen on the one day. We caution them against having two interviews on one day, one on another, spreading their interviews over several days.
Leaders that conduct all their interviews on the one day report that by around the third interview they are ‘warmed up’ and much more capable of spotting that potential winner. By grouping this task, they get better at it as the day progresses.
Salespeople can learn from this lesson. Rather than making one or two prospecting calls, then hopping to a buyer appointment, then going out for a listing presentation, you will get better if you group similar tasks: set aside a block of time and do nothing but prospect; attend three listing presentations in a row, organise two or three buyer appointments back-to-back.
Have you ever conducted three listing appointments in a row? By the time you reach the third appointment you are in ‘Listing Mode’. I’ll bet that if you knocked on the wrong door, you’d still list that homeowner, even if they stated at the beginning that you were in the wrong house and that they didn’t want to sell!
Task hopping is time wasting. People delude themselves by saying that they are ‘Multitasking’. I don’t want to upset my female readers here, but there is no such thing.
Stirring the custard while talking on the telephone is not Multitasking: even a guy can do that!
Try this: take two sheets of paper and two pens.
- Hold one pen in your left hand and one in your right. In your non-writing hand write this simple sum: 4 + 6 + 8 = 18.
- In your writing hand, AT THE SAME TIME AS YOU WRITE OUT THE SUM, write this sentence: “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog”.
Finished? I bet you didn’t do the two things at the same time.
No doubt you wrote out the sum with one hand then wrote the sentence with the other. You did one task first, then the other. You did not do both at the same time.
Dave Crenshaw discusses this self delusion in his great book, “The Myth of Multitasking”. He says that while people like to think they multitask, they actually Switch Task – swap from one to the other. This, he says, wastes huge amounts of time over a working week.
I agree with him. Wherever possible, I try to work on similar tasks in a block of time. As soon as I finish this article, I shall commence another. For the past three days I have been writing. The week before, it was only speaking engagements.
You might say that as a salesperson, your time is at the mercy of many people. So is mine. Whose isn’t? I’ve been there – making excuses about why I can’t do something.
The fact is, you, and only you write appointments into your diary. Therefore, you have control.
Exercise this control. Group your tasks. Do each block of tasks well. Focus on them.