Staying on Track With a Weekly Review
This is the second installment of, “It’s Not Time Management, It’s Priority Management.'“
Last week I posted about Output KPIs (oKPI) and Input KPIs (iKPI) and how to give yourself the highest chances of success in your Sales fiscal year by beginning with the end in mind and breaking those goals into smaller ones we measure quarterly. Using that as a baseline, we can now begin to look at how we take out iKPIs and act on them daily though our Daily Actions (DA) Backlog. Remember, the DA Backlog is the collection of the Next 5 Things you need to do for each of your iKPIs to keep you moving forward. We use this concept of the Next 5 Things to make sure that the efforts we are putting out will move us in the right direction while making sure that we touch all or most of our iKPIs through massive action each week. This is how you look up at the end of the quarter or year and see real and predictable progress versus looking up and wondering what in the world went wrong. We do this through our Weekly Reviews.
Weekly Reviews consist of three things.
Daily Actions Backlog
Somewhere you write down your daily to-do’s
We use the DA Backlog to guide us on what tasks we should be doing, our to-do list to organize them and prioritize what will get done and give us a place to gratifyingly check off complete items, and your calendar to help you schedule each thing in to make sure you are setting yourself up for success and creating time your priorities. Now if you are thinking that you have to schedule in every little thing like, “send Joan the email to get her create a list of attendees for the event'‘ you are correct. But that email takes 60 seconds, how are we supposed to schedule in 60 second tasks you maniac?! Through what I call a Task Sprint. We will cover this in depth when we get to the Calendar part of this discussion so keep reading.
By now we know the DA Backlog is the Next 5 Things you do for each iKPI. This is kept in a spreadsheet, notebook, or some type of document that works for you. I have mine in a spreadsheet under the tab, DA Backlog. I use this same spreadsheet to track all of my KPIs, deals, commissions, and where I plan to spend the money I will make that year. You don’t have to get that granular about things, but if you love analytics and creating spreadsheets to tell stories through numbers (like this freak) then be my guest. Otherwise, just make sure you keep your DA Backlog in a place where you can reference it every week reliably.
Weekly To-Do List
Your to-do list will hold more than just your work tasks. If you remember, in the last article I referenced helping you establish your priorities and managing them (most call this Work / Life Balance). I call it Priority Management and we do this with some forethought, setting a mix of priorities (essentially ranking them), and then every week we use this as a guideline on how we will structure where we put our time, effort, and energy that week. Where you spend your time and money reveals your priorities. Just like your money, we want to be thoughtful of where we spend our time and make sure we invest in areas that mean the most to us, whether it be our families, a new relationship, an old hobby you want to make more time for, your day job, or your side hustle. Figuring out how much time to spend on each is simply a matter of thinking about where they fall on your priority list.
Now before we begin, know that in this case, there is a difference between how much something means to you, and where it falls on your to-do list. You can love your kids very much, but if you are trying to hit it big this year at work you will need to spend more time (tasks on your to-do list) on work than on your kids. The other thing to note about what I just said is that you will have a section on your weekly to-do list that involve your kids or your girlfriend or whatever. This is where we reach a key point. Priority Management is about more than just work. Organizing what you do at work should not be the only place you think about what you are doing. You can live a full life when you put everything on an equal playing field, recognize you have only so many things you can get done in a day, and give all the things that matter to you their own moment of your undivided attention.
My Weekly to-do list gets broken down into the following categories.
Business of Life (BOL)
These are the areas of my life that I prioritize. They do not have equal time though. I have ranked them here in the order of what gets the most time each week based on my current priorities.
I have a large opportunity at work this fiscal year that I need to make the most of so work get the most time. I am about to get married and this relationship is the best thing that ever happened to me so I want to make sure I build it to be the best it can possibly be, so my queen gets the second most time. I put my Side Hustle third because we do not have kids yet and I know the best time for me to lessen my dependence on my day job and build something on my own while I have time is now. Then the things I do just for me like go to the gun range or out to the woods to whittle a spoon. Then finally things to keep the lights on like balancing my budget and calling repair people to do the shit I don’t want to do. So how do you list them on your weekly to-do? Does each area get 5 things? 10? 20?
No. Begin with the Big 3.
The Big 3
If you read anything from really successful people they talk about getting just the big priorities done everyday and the rest is window dressing. This number ends up between 3-5 main things a day. Let’s start with 3 to keep it simple. In Sales, a number of things pop up constantly that are time sensitive, people are reaching out to you for answers they need yesterday, or a client is blowing up and you need to drop everything and handle it. We want to leave room for real life so start with the Big 3 and if you can increase that number over time go for it.
The math ends up like this.
3 main check boxes a day * 7 days a week = 21 spots on your Weekly to-do list.
To set priorities for the week know you only have 21 major task items you will be doing that week so this makes you prioritize the Big 3 for each day. Go back to the list of the different categories I discussed a minute ago and start to break your time (number of slots from 21) into these categories. Mine looks like this.
Day Job - 8
Wife - 3
Side Hustle - 6
Self - 3
Business of Life (BOL) - 1
I recently shifted around my priorities since I am working on my Side Hustle more now having launched the Podcast and another project of mine that is hitting critical mass. So I shifted 1 slot from Day Job and 1 slot from Wifey over to Side Hustle (don’t tell Kasey). See how that works? You only have so much time in the day so you have to prioritize what you spend your time on to get the results you are looking for.
Items to put in other categories could include…
Wife or Husband
Bring flowers this week
Make life easy for them on Tuesday / Wednesday because they have a big presentation so you can allow them to focus and be worry free
Date Night Friday
Put a note on the mirror twice this week
Get her car washed
Learn a new song on the guitar
Happy Hour with an old friend
or basically anything you don’t do for yourself any more because you think you are too busy.
**This is your permission to do these things for yourself. If not, you will begin to resent the areas you do spend your time because you think they are robbing you of taking care of yourself. They are not. You are. Prioritize your own well being and you can be better for everyone and everything else because of it.
Develop Executive Briefing Document with the help of my Customer Coach
Work with my Collections team to clear up that invoicing issue before the meeting
Build return on investment (ROI) model for our project so we can gain the support of the CFO to move forward
Set up working session with my business architect Billy to help with Financial Model
Ok quick review.
You have 21 spots on your Weekly to-do list. Fill them with things in proportion to how much time you want to put into each category to build the life you want. Organize them to do a Big 3 each day, and pull your work tasks from your Daily Actions Backlog which is based on accomplishing your iKPIs. Still with me? Good! Let’s make sure we are putting the right things on the right day through the use of a magical tool called, your calendar.
Your calendar works for you, not the other way around. To some, this concept escapes them and they end up running around like crazy trying to do all of the things everyone else puts on their calendar or sends to their email inbox. By the end of the day, you just feel frazzled, pulled in a thousand directions, stressed, and dissatisfied about where you spent your time. That sounds like shit if you ask me. I choose not to hate my job or the people I work with so to aid in that, take control of your calendar and your time by setting your priorities first, getting them on your calendar, and everyone else can have what is left of you.
For larger items, like working time building a financial model, a prospecting blitz, or reviewing your presentation with your manager, set those on your calendar for the time it will take to do them plus some. It is better to overestimate the time you will need to do something at this stage versus get behind by 10:00 am and feel the weight of your epic failure the rest of the day / week. Just kidding it isn’t that bad to get behind, but you do build confidence in your abilities by keeping the promises you make to yourself, so set yourself up for success by leaving some room to get used to this and make sure you are checking off your Big 3 each day to build some killer momentum.
If you have travel one day, training another, and a big presentation that afternoon, don’t schedule a couple hour working / brainstorming session with your account team that will make you rushed and not be able to give everything the attention it deserves. By scheduling and prioritizing through my method, it allows you to focus 100% on what you are doing because you know without a doubt that this is what you are supposed to be doing. You put a lot of thought into where you spend your time so when you are in it, give it 1000%. The results will be higher quality work, and feeling more at peace and satisfaction when you are in the middle of something you might not otherwise allow yourself to do, like read from a new sales book for 15 minutes or whatever. And at the end of the week, month, quarter, and year you will have spent more time in the areas that matter to you and improve your life than on things that simply don’t. So set your priorities, make your actions reflect them, and be present.
THE TASK SPRINT
Not all things that you need to do warrant a 30 minute time block on your calendar, but you still have a bunch of little things to do. I’d like to introduce you to the Task Sprint. This bad little sucker lets you take your obsession with crossing multiple items off of a list to the next level. Here is how it works.
Block out time on your calendar for 30 minutes and label it Task Sprint. Then in the notes section of the calendar write down all of the little things you need to do that in general take 5 minutes or less to complete. These could be, send this quick email or call this person to confirm something really quickly, or set this appointment, or a hundred other things. This is where you turn on Dubstep in the background and hit a furious pace of getting things done. For me, lumping all of these little tasks together allows me to get in the headspace of working quickly instead of analytically, and it cuts down on the Cognitive Switching Cost (the mental energy lost when moving from task to task) of moving from a big analytical to-do, to a small thing my A.D.D. just reminded me of, then back to big thing. If I think of another small thing that needs to be done, instead of breaking right then to do it, write it into your next Task Sprint and promptly get back on track. Getting it off your mind allows you to use your mental energy to be productive instead of distracted. Remember, be present to do better work.
So this was a lot I know, but you have to have a process for anything you want to work. Just like how you cannot expect to walk into a meeting with a C-Level Executive at a customer and just wing it and be successful. You plan for individual meetings, so make sure you are also planning for your overall success and fulfillment.
You can be successful as a Salesperson without putting 100 hours in at the office each week. With this method, your efforts go further because they are all linked together and headed in the same direction. If you want to stack 100 hours at the office on top of this level of clarity and organization you will be unstoppable. I did that when I started out in Tech Sales and attribute much of my early success to it. I also had nothing else I wanted to spend my time on other than just learning the industry and becoming the best I could. If that’s you, create your oKPIs and iKPIs and slam your 21 spots a week with work stuff to support them. If thats not you, then find the right mix based on where you should send your time to give you the life you want to live. Stop making excuses about not having time for things. That is a lie you tell yourself when your priorities in your mind do not match with how you prioritize your time. If this is you, take a look in the mirror and ask if you really do care about the things you “never get to do” or if that is some outdated image of yourself you are trying to still manifest or maybe an excuse you have for something else.
I set my Weekly to-do list and fill in my calendar on Sunday evenings before anyone can even think about filling my inbox or calendar with their own priorities that distract me from mine. This way, I make sure I schedule what matters to me first and then the next day, I get to punch Monday morning in the teeth because I can just wake up, follow my calendar / list, and stomp ass.
Do yourself a favor, set up your Weekly Review / to-do list based on your iKPIs and other priorities and you too can start your week off strong. You now have permission to get organized, have the clarity to kill it all week because you already know what you are supposed to be doing, and execute with extreme confidence because you know it is where you want to / should be spending your time.
Godspeed friends and Happy selling.