It’s 9 A.M. and you have a planner in front of you with 30 important calls to make when the “urgent” call comes in from an unemployed candidate needing an update on the status of his resume. You then check your email (for the 10th time in the last 60 minutes) and see that you have 15 new emails to go through, 10 of which are SPAM.
Little events like this eat away at your most precious and irreplaceable resource – time. It is very easy in this business to be extremely busy doing the wrong things. The frantic pace of many recruiters’ desks adds to the illusion that something meaningful is happening. There is no doubt that there are a great many details that need to be tended to, but how and when you take care of them can make a significant difference in your paycheck at the end of the month.
Two categories of activities:
There are really only 2 categories in your work: revenue generating activities and everything else. You’ve probably heard of the 80/20 rule which says that 80% of a typical salesperson’s success comes from 20% of his or her activities. One of the characteristics that big billers have in common is that they consistently focus on the 20% and virtually nothing else.
More often than not, when we are trying to decide what to focus on during the day, we are actually choosing between a wide variety of tasks that could all beified as a “good” use of our time. Big billers have a finely tuned ability to gravitate toward the best activities while allowing many good, but less important, activities to go undone.
Creating systematized ways of doing things will help to free you up. Set an aggressive goal to do only a certain small number of hours of administrative work per week and see if you can find creative ways to achieve this. For instance, if your goal is to do no more than 2 hours of administrative work per week you will start to make note of what items are wasting your time and then be able to consider a way to automate, delegate or trash that activity. If you are able to off load administrivia, research and data entry to a researcher or support person you will have a much better chance of staying focused on leveraged activities.
You may want to create a folder (or signature file) in your email software where you keep form emails for specific situations (marketing email, follow up email, prep email) that you can customize quickly, hit forward, and send out. Any message that you send out regularly ought to be saved and updated regularly. This way you write the message once, save it, and never have to write it again.
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If you plan your calls in blocks of time and guard this time carefully you will be much more efficient. If someone calls with an “urgent” request that is not urgent to you, tell her you will call her back during your next break. Leave a half-hour towards the end of the day for database updating, web research and administrivia.
Track and analyze how you spend your time:
It’s important to understand how much of your time is spent on productive activities that contribute directly to the results that you want, and how much of your time is spent unproductively. If you are the type of person who has no idea where the time goes then I’d suggest the following activity:
- Track exactly how you spend your time in 15-minute increments for a 5-day period. If you do this you are almost certain to discover some things that will surprise you.
- Categorize your results into blocks (marketing, sourcing, deleting spam, personal calls etc.). Get specific about where the time is going.
- Identify what % of your time you are spending on money-making activities.
- Identify your “Time bandits,” those little buggers who steal your prime hours and hold them hostage.
- Make a plan to delegate, automate, minimize or eliminate your time bandits.
Establish an ideal daily schedule:
Objectively looking at your habits and deliberately choosing more productive habits enables you to create an ideal daily routine. The ideal daily routine is a template of how your perfect day would go. It’s a map that guides the way your day will unfold. So it’s a guideline but not an inflexible template. It will assist you in focusing on the best activities and feeling more control of your schedule and production.