How to Get Stuff Done

I’d like to tackle something that comes up again and again in my sales training and coaching sessions. Getting it all done!

How Productive Are You?

Seriously, how much stuff do you get done in a given day or week?

With so much to do, and so much competing for your attention, how can you find the time to get it all done?

For years, in my sales training courses I have been teaching about goal setting, creating to-do lists based on those goals, and even drilling down to daily tasks. But if you don’t have a good system for managing your time effectively, getting all the things done to achieve your goals can feel like an impossible feat. I often joke about never sleeping and getting up way before the sun comes up because I seem to get so much done.

But I’ll tell you a secret …

I don’t always work 14-hour days (even though I used to when I first started out). And I’m usually in bed by 9:30. I’m no good without a full night’s sleep and I usually take a 20 -30 minute nap most days.
Yet I’m still as productive – if not more so – than most people I meet.

Why is that?

Simple really. I am self disciplined and I have created a system that allows me to work most effectively.

Specifically I’ve found these sales basics to be most effective:

Sales Training Tip 1: I plan my day the night before.
I work from an agenda that my assistant, Cindi, creates. Usually this agenda, which is a task list, is about three pages long. We review this task list daily and she and I both decide in rank order what the most important tasks are. Once this is decided these tasks are entered into a daily calendar where they are assigned a time to be worked on. Each night before I go to bed I know, hour by hour, what tasks I will be working on the next day. My mind is clear and I never find myself sitting at my desk wondering what I should be working on.

Writing down every single to-do item is the only way I’ve found to be effective. And that goes for goals too.

Now at any given time, my to do list is overwhelming and I don’t always get everything done daily. If I don’t get something done on the list it rolls over to the next day.

Sales Training Tip 2: Get rid of time-wasters!
Technology is a distraction not a time saver! Email, Facebook, instant messenger … time-wasters are everywhere.

According to one study, the average American worker is distracted every 7 minutes. If that’s true it is no wonder people never get anything done. Break the habit of checking email or text messages constantly. Only check email every few hours not every few minutes. And only respond to email at scheduled during the day. Break the urgency addiction. Facebook –What a waste of time. I have a Facebook account but I don’t spend my time there. I pay someone to manage my Facebook account and pretend to be me. My time is worth hundreds of dollars an hour and I don’t need to be wasting it on nonproductive activity.  Ditto for Twitter. If you must check these then schedule time to do so but get out of the automatic habit of constantly checking to see what your friends are up to.

Sales Training Tip 3: Get Organized
I used to think being spontaneous and flying by the seat of my pants was cool. In hindsight, I was just plain stupid. I was fortunate to be clinically diagnosed as having Attention Deficit Disorder about twenty years ago. For a time I took medication, and at times could still benefit from doing so. I remember one appointment when I carried my Day-Timer into an appointment with my Psychiatrist. He asked if he could see it, and as he looked through it, he said he had never seen one of his patients that had things written down in such detail. We talked about this and he remarked that maybe I didn’t need medication if I just continued to write thing down it detail. Haven’t taken any medication since.

Scheduling and getting organized reduced my anxiety levels and allowed me to focus more effectively, and it helped increase my productivity – especially my writing projects – a lot.

And finally, let your family and roommates know that when you’re in your office, you’re working. Sometimes it helps to hang a sign on the door or close the door altogether. But whatever you do, make sure that everyone knows that your office is off limits and you are not to be disturbed.

Although … I’ve yet to figure out how to keep my dog Jake and the two cats from obeying that rule … and if you’ve been on a phone call with me, you may have heard one of them voicing their opinion about what I was doing.

So if you’ve been struggling with “getting it all done” lately, give yourself a break and begin to set up processes and systems that will help you become more productive.

Read more posts about personal productivity.

And if you have some tips you’d like to share with your fellow readers and me, I invite you to add a comment below.


Margaret Kennedy

This is great information.
I am curious, though, if you have any tips/ideas/experience with single, self-supported parents working like this, and including community marketing that makes sense, plus PTA, homework for 1 hour at night, dinner, bathing the child, gymnastics, household shopping, and the best way to be a financially successful single parent with not having the spokes on her wheel of life out of balance.
It seems like I get 2 or 3 spokes on track, and the others suffer.
Thanks for tips!

Steve Clark


As a single parent you have the most difficult job imaginable. All the more reason for you to be ruthlessly disciplined with how you spend your time. Carefully analyze how you spend your time and have the courage to eliminate people or activities that are not in concert with your goals. Truth is there is never enough time so you must practice exceptional self management if you are to achieve anything of any significance.

Thanks for the comment.

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