Flexibility. It’s what many people work so hard to achieve in their careers – be it flexible work hours, the ability to schedule your own time, or perhaps even being able to decide when you do and do not want to work all together. More people are finding themselves in this position for reasons such as starting their own business, working from home, or being in a sales driven role. Workers are giving up the traditional 9 to 5 and reclaiming scheduling freedom.
While flexibility in managing our days can be a perk, some people find the switch from an office environment difficult. The sudden lack of routine can actually lower productivity. That’s why we recommend following these tips which prove successful in our own salespeople, to help you maintain the flexibility you desire, while still accomplishing your goals!
- Set achievable goals- Give yourself daily, weekly, or even monthly goals as a way of keeping you moving forward and making sure your self-motivation is on pace with where you want it to be. When hiring and training our own salesmen who have complete independence in their schedule, we’ve found the best thing we can do to set them up for success is teaching them how to set themselves up for success. Listing out their own goals is a proven top method. We all get a little distracted now and then, but having those key performance indicators as a guiding light will remind yourself that you’re on the right track. You’ll feel good meeting them, as well as not having the stress of knowing if you’re “doing enough,” while working remotely or starting your own business.
- Set time limits for tasks – This is like giving yourself mini-goals throughout the day. How long does it take to set a monthly content calendar? Or perhaps you have a sales call with a potential client… should you make it for 30 minutes or 60? One reason to do this is to make sure you’re not overbooking yourself. But of course, tasks sometimes take less or more time than expected. But giving yourself these increments help you move your workflow along. As well, it can call attention to tasks that could be made more efficient. Perhaps that 1-hr meeting could be trimmed down to half an hour? Now you’ll find yourself with a stable schedule and more time back in your days.
- Always plan tomorrow – The salespeople in our company who are most successful always spend a few minutes at the end of their day scheduling themselves out for tomorrow. This tactic applies to anyone in charge of their own schedule, not just those in sales. When you begin working the next morning, you don’t want to have to spend mental bandwidth trying to remember where you left off or what you need to prioritize. Past you already did that! You can jump right to accomplishing the important things. So while having that flexible schedule can create a vague sense of “I’ll get it done eventually,” scheduling your own time will make sure nothing is getting swept under the rug.
- Leave time for thinking – Does your job require you to keep up with the latest trends? What about maintaining a skill or program knowledge? With a flexible schedule, it can be easy to think all hours should be dedicated to concrete work. Learning is just as important! Be sure to block off time – even a half hour each day- so you can read, learn, or practice whatever is beneficial to your job and industry!
- Automate where possible– Scheduling, prospecting, email responses… whatever those tedious little tasks are that eat away at your time, try automating (or at least creating shortcuts!) If you have to drive to 6 different clients, plug all the addresses into an app that shows you the most efficient route. Use a calendar app or service, so when people want to book meetings with you, they can see your availability, thus cutting down back and forth time-suggesting emails. A few minutes here and there not only add up to significant time, but you’ll be free of those little, repetitive tasks.
- Set your free time– Working from home or on your own schedule can make it easy to tell yourself to answer just one more email or open your laptop after dinner to see if you can get a jump on tomorrow’s work. One surprising find from last year as many employees went to remote work was they actually worked longer hours than they did when in the office. Many reported feeling the need to prove they’ve “earned” a flexible schedule or simply have a hard time delineating when the work day ends and personal life begins. Giving yourself a cut-off time and sticking to it will yield a much healthier work/life balance. When you log out of your work email, resist the temptation to check it later. There will always be more work, but it won’t be done efficiently if you’re burning the candle at both ends. Our most productive employees are the ones who work hard during the day and still give themselves a fulfilling amount of free time. It’s a tough lesson to learn, but one of the most important practices!
These are the habits we make sure each employee with flexible time understands and knows, before they even get to the meat and potatoes of their training. Understanding the freedom and potential increases in productivity that come with owning your own schedule needs to be balanced by designing your own routine and structure. Practicing this will set any employee in any industry up for success. Implementing these tips hopefully allows you to reach your career goals more efficiently, as we’ve seen it happen with so many of our own employees. We’re all just after finding that magical balance between work and play!