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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Organizing Well = Saved Time and Better Productivity

For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.” — Benjamin Franklin

One of the biggest issues salespeople have is time management. We all feel busy, but busy doesn’t always equate to success. Salespeople often have the best intentions of working smarter, not harder. They talk about wanting to spend more time prospecting, setting up new Client Needs Analyses (CNAs) updating CNAs with Key Accounts, pre-selling Key Agencies, and building relationships with important contacts. These are the best use of their time.

Unfortunately, these things often get pushed to the back burner because a client needs something NOW, a mistake needs to be fixed, a manager needs a report, a collection call needs to be made, or a co-worker stops by his or her cubicle to shoot the breeze. Next thing you know, a whole day has gone by without any IMPORTANT work getting done.

Put First Things First

Steven Covey uses an illustration in his book First Things First that depicts four different options for how we spend our time. They are categorized by urgency and importance.


Quadrant 1 is the upper left box where we characterize the things we do as Urgent and Important. These are the fires we face when we don’t spend enough time in Quadrant II (the upper right box). Quadrant II is called the “quality” quadrant. This quadrant is Important but not Urgent. Quadrant II is where we prepare, plan, strategize, and prioritize. 

Quadrant III is Not Important but Urgent. Quadrant III can feel a lot like Quadrant I, but what seems important is often not. These are distractions. Quadrant IV is Not Important and Not Urgent. This is called the "time suck" quadrant. It is where we end up when we have spent too much time in Quadrant I and III and need a break.

To use our time most effeciently and productively, we should be spending the majority of our time in Quadrant II. We are often reminded that 80% of our billing comes from 20% of our accounts (our KEY ACCOUNTS). Covey says that the same rule applies to our time. He says 80% of our results come from 20% of our time. That time is being spent in Quadrant II!

Prioritize by Quadrants

Next time you are prioritizing your to-do list, categorize your activites by the Quadrants above. Would spending more time in Quadrant II make you more productive? 

Covey encourages us to ask ourselves this question, “If I were to one thing superbly and consistently that would have the biggest impact on my overall success….what would it be?”

My guess is that your answer falls in Quadrant II. 

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Topics: Sales