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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

The 3 Ds of Time Management


It’s no secret time management is one of the highest requirements for succeeding in sales. Consistent questions heard within the industry are, “What are some ways I can improve my time management?” and “How can I be more efficient?”

There are a multitude of strategies to help us be more productive, but they can be difficult to adopt because they force us to go against routines we’ve had for years. If you struggle with habit-changing productivity tips, such as going to bed with an empty inbox, check out this system that works for many.

How to Manage Emails

2021 Talent Magazine - Square ButtonWe use email to respond to leads that submit a form, follow up with prospects, as a channel to finalize meetings and sales, and of course, as an internal source of communication.

It only takes one day of calls, coaching, or training in the field, and hundreds of unread emails have collected. If you’re a zero-inbox kind of person, that makes for a long, exhausting day of reading and scanning emails.

According to the 3D model, every time an email arrives in your inbox, you can do one of the following:

1. Do it

If a task arrives in your inbox and it’s directed towards you, or it’s a key account, it’s worth stopping and responding.

The rule of thumb is: If you can deal with it in less than two minutes, do it right away. Many studies state that you can manage one-third of your email messages in less than two minutes each. Any more time and it should enter your to-do list.

Deal with these types of emails in less than two minutes:

  • FYI / Memo emails — Emails directly to you, but don’t require any action from you.

  • Promotional emails — Emails promoting a website, an event, a webinar, or a podcast. Two minutes is enough for you to sign up if you find the offer interesting.

  • Reminder emails — These are emails from people who want you to perform an action or are waiting for a deliverable. 

  • Invitation emails — Emails that require you to take a quick action: accept or decline.

2. Delete it

Let’s be honest; you can usually delete half (or more) of your emails without opening them.

The average person deletes 48% of the emails they receive every day - this task takes them just five minutes. The reason people don’t delete emails as soon as they see them is out of fear that they may need that information later.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Does the email contain information that is directly related to what you do? If the answer is No, delete it.

  • Can the information contained in the email be found elsewhere easily? If the answer is Yes, delete it.

  • Do you think you’ll need that information in the next six months? If your answer is Yes, don't delete it.

  • Should the information exist in a more formal document? You be the judge!24 Time Management Hacks for Busy Sales Reps

3. Delegate it

Sometimes, doing or deleting an email is impractical. If that’s the case, the key to improving your time management is delegation.

Delegating your emails doesn’t always mean forwarding tasks to someone else. It can also mean to delegate to yourself at a different time and place. For example, there are several email apps that allow you to snooze emails or simply forward yourself the email to yourself for a future date and time.

Types of emails to delegate:

  • Small and mundane tasks —For example, setting up a call with a customer.

  • Tasks outside your area of familiarity — These are tasks that just don’t match your strength, for example, preparing PowerPoint decks.

  • Tasks that can be broken into teachable steps — For example, categorizing your website’s incoming requests.

Apply the 3Ds for Effective Time Management

How much of your day is spent reviewing emails? Not just reviewing, but reading, deleting, responding, flagging . . .

Not all emails are created equal, and not all of them require your undivided attention. There's not a secret formula to effective time management. It involves making decisions about what to act on now, later or even never.

If you struggle with managing your emails, try the 3Ds of effective time management system and take control of your inbox!

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Editor's Note: This blog was originally written in 2019 and has since been updated.

Topics: email sales performance time managemet