Rethinking Your Personal HabitsArticle by Colleen Francis, January 28, 2021
I’ve been talking a lot about the importance of having the right mindset for uncertain times. And for sellers and leaders alike, I regularly remind you why you must adapt, how you work, and how you connect with customers to survive and thrive in this fast-changing marketplace.
Be realistic though! While selling has always been a high-performance profession, it’s even more so now due to remote working, tougher prospects, longer sales cycles, and more competition. That’s a lot of new stress and uncertainty that’s come into your life.
Given this, your sustained wellness is a balance. Know what must change and what can remain familiar. Too much of either is harmful. Remain too static and your customers move on. And if you leave yourself in perpetual overdrive in the pursuit of change, you risk burning out quickly.
So, let’s talk about personal habits—especially those that were once familiar for you, and find how to leverage the right ones amid all the change you’ve had to absorb.
DEFINE WHAT IS MISSING.
Examine your daily work patterns today and compare them to how things used to be (and that’s not that long ago). What’s missing now that you used to cherish? To illustrate: a client of mine used to count on her daily commute for “downtime.” That was when she did tasks requiring reflection. She’d think about how best to respond to important emails. Or map out in her head the conversations to have with staff when she arrived at work. That downtime vanished when she shifted to working from home and lost her commute. In her desire to adapt quickly to her radically changed work environment, she suddenly felt every email needed an instant reply. Every conversation needed an immediate resolution. Bringing back that downtime (albeit in a different format) was crucial for her to get back to performing well and regaining a sense of control over her day.
DO SOMETHING ELSE.
Despite what’s suggested by the behaviour of many high-energy sellers today, there’s no gold medal earned for remaining focused indefinitely on one task. In fact, there’s a large body of research in the field of work productivity that tells us people think more clearly and do better work when they segment those tasks. Leave time in your day for short exercise breaks where your idea-generating work gets pushed to back burner to simmer a bit. Go for a run. Listen to an audiobook. Breathe. Talk to your kids. Task shifting is still productive time. Reframe your work into a cycle of performance, recovery, and practice.
CARVE OUT TIME DAILY FOR DELIBERATE PLANNING.
Sellers used to count on all those travelling hours within their weekly calendar as quiet time for planning and strategizing. I sure did. And then in a blink of an eye, all of that transformed into a work environment where you feel you must be permanently on call, video-ready, and in instant-response mode. That’s unsustainable. To get back to planning things out carefully, earmark time in your daily calendar for those contemplative tasks that make you effective in your role as a top seller or leader. No one else will do this for you. You cannot be productive if all you’re doing is reacting constantly to an always-on work environment.
REDEFINE WHAT FULFILMENT LOOKS LIKE.
Stop using that downtown office mindset for a workplace that’s been shifted to your home. You have new competing priorities now. So, make sure you organize your time accordingly. For example: make a checklist of all your daily to-dos. One for the home. Another for work. Block time in your schedule for each task. Make each one a non-negotiable “busy” until it’s done. At the start of each week, plan for the strategic goals you must accomplish and make time for those proactively in your schedule. By marking the time as an appointment (even with yourself), you avoid interruptions, ad hoc meetings, and surrendering to the temptation to respond to every email, text, and message immediately. As you complete all important tasks daily, notice how you feel more fulfilled, giving you back what you really need from your work.
DOCUMENT YOUR SUCCESSES.
I love writing in my success journal. I’ve only changed when I do it. Today, in this work-from-home environment, do this at the end of your workday (as opposed to just before heading to bed). Ideally, do this just before having dinner with your family. Take stock. Find things to be grateful for, rather than dwelling further about work. Especially on tough days. You can’t feel grateful and upset at the same time. Feeling good about your accomplishments—and putting your failures into an event-specific frame of mind—helps ensure you finish your day on a high note. It has the net effect of improving your time with family because you’re not showing up in a bad mood with work problems on your mind.
Yes, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by change—even in the best of times. The solution, however, isn’t to simply work harder for longer hours. How and where you’re working now is all-new for many people. You must rethink what productivity means, restructure your work activities, and set good boundaries for yourself. Finding that balance is how you remain on the path to success.