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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Time Management Tip: The Problem With Your To-Do List

Time Management Tip: The Problem With Your To-Do List

“Do you love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.”

- Benjamin Franklin

Did you know that you’re 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down?

High-performing salespeople are intense; they typically have a long to-do list each week, and they attack that list with extreme focus. They’re dedicated, highly customer focused, competitive, and can typically accomplish more in one-week than any average Joe could in one month.

These days, life is so busy that we easily forget tasks and goals if we don’t write it down. However, writing down a to-do list is just the beginning; unless you prioritize that list, your productivity and time management is suffering.  

What does that mean?

Feeling Overwhelmed? Missing Deadlines?

2021 Talent Magazine - Square ButtonThe process of putting your daily to-dos and goals on paper forces you to strategize, to ask questions about your current progress, and to brainstorm a plan of attack.

  • Let’s say you make a list of a dozen things you would like to get done today
  • Some of those tasks may not take much time at all, but others might consume significant time
  • The end result is you’re unable to get to all twelve items finished in one day 

This is a typical scenario in every salesperson’s life, and most people simply carry the tasks yet to be completed to the next day’s list. As you continue to add new tasks every day and carry others over from the previous days, you simply won’t get to everything, and therein lies the trap. 

You’re busy in any given week, but failing to accomplish some of the most important items that relate to your business and life goals can leave you feeling overextended and overwhelmed.

Even if you shut the office door, pull an all-nighter, read motivational quotes, and crank up your most inspirational productivity playlist, there are still unfinished tasks lingering on that pesky list.

How can you start prioritizing and maximizing your time?

How Do You Prioritize Your To-Do List?

Time is money–especially true for salespeople.

With several important tasks competing you’re your attention all at once, how do you master the discipline of time management and achieve the satisfaction of completing your to-do list?

The ABC Method is a powerful priority setting technique that you and your team can use every day. The power of this technique lies in its simplicity. Here’s how it works: You start with a list of everything you have to do for the coming day. You then place an A, B, or C before each item on your list before you begin the first task.

The "A" Category 

The “A” category is your priority tasks- those that are vitally important to your business (and personal) goals and values.  If you’re in the sales industry, activities that advance your work with Key Accounts or Target Prospects would certainly be a “A” priorities. 

You might also consider activities directly related to other personal priorities like physical, mental, family, or spiritual goals. The key is to prioritize these as “A” activities because while they are obviously important to your success and well-being, they may not be as urgent as some other activities calling you. 

Examples of the "A" Category Task List

Each day, after determining which activities are the “A” priorities number them from 1 to whatever considering how important they are to your goals and values and which ones need your attention first.

  • A1: (insert task here)
  • A2: (task)
  • A3: (task)
  • A4: (task)

The "B" Category 

The “B” category features priority goals that are important (of course) but not so important that they should prevent you from investing time in “A” priority activities. An example of a “B” priority is an activity that happens later in the week.

Examples of the "B" Category Task List

Like “A” priorities, number them in descending order of urgency for the day.

  • B1: (insert task here)
  • B2: (task)
  • B3: (task)
  • B4: (task)
  • B5: (task)

The "C" Category 

The “C” category are priority goals that would be great to accomplish but have no particular sense of urgency about them.

“C” tasks could also be important business or personal items you want to do, but don’t need to be addressed at the moment. As you review your task list from the previous day and build a new one for the day, some of those “C” priorities will naturally move up to "B"’s or eventually the "A" category.

Examples of the "C" Category Task List

The "C" category will contain far less tasks than "A" and "B" and will gradually move up over time. 

  • C1: (insert task here)
  • C2: (task)
  • C3: (task)

When you accomplish your “A” category, you’ll have fulfillment knowing you have finished the most important work for the day. Assuming you get into “B” category, your sense of accomplishment will be greater. Typically, “C” list gets moved towards the top after the end of each day.

Practicing the ABC Method of Setting Priorities

The more thought you invest in planning and setting priorities before you begin making a to-do list, the more important things you’ll do and the faster you’ll get them done once you get started.

If a task is important and valuable to you, you'll be motivated to launch yourself into business and personal success. 

The goal of using an ABC method is to ensure you’re spending your time on the most important tasks. There are also several apps, such as Asana, TickTick, and Wunderlist that help with time management and to-do lists.

Get going and start prioritizing!

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Topics: priorities to-do list