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How to Manage Your Time Make more money--and avoid burning out--with this advice for better managing your selling time.

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When you're in business for yourself, time is as precious a commodity as money. I've written many articles specifically about how to make sales (translated: "money"). Now, let's explore some ways you can get more sales productivity out of the time you have to invest in your business.

Everyone knows you can make twice the income by working twice the number of hours, putting forth twice the amount of effort. The secret to true success is making the time you currently invest in your business twice as productive.

To begin with, you must understand there are two entirely different kinds of time. The first is opportunity time, during which you achieve your business goals such as selecting new products to market, doing some test marketing, and providing follow-up service to existing clients. The second is replenishment time, during which you rebuild your strength through exercise, recreation, relaxation and sleep.

If you can't get the hang of switching from opportunity time to replenishment time, you'll soon face a period of burnout where you're neither successful nor in sound physical condition. You'll run out of fuel. Then your flame will go out, your power will shut off, and you'll drop like a stone.

People who appear to be highly productive often suffer flameout. Many have lost several years as a result. Some have quenched their flames so thoroughly that they never manage to get their engines going again. They gave up on their dreams of owning a successful business.

The dangerous part is that burnout sneaks up on you. Don't try to fly high when your tanks are low. Touch down and refuel your spirits--spend a few days away in a completely different atmosphere from your workday world. I know it can be hard to force yourself to do this, but believe me--the benefits are incredible.

When you're involved with opportunity time, you need to be tough about it. It's amazing how much of our working life can be eaten up by trivial interruptions unless you make a conscious effort not to let that happen. Successful people are tough about the types of interruptions they allow during productive business time. They're always on the lookout for busy work and finding ways to eliminate it. Busy work is usually pointless stuff you don't mind doing because it's easy, and doing it makes a marvelous excuse for not tackling the hard things you know you should do. The key is to figure out the best time of day each day for selling and to focus your efforts on sales activities during that time. Don't take inventory during sales time. Don't do filing or clean your desk then, either. Yes, those things need to be done, but not during selling time.

If you're going to be a winner, you'll always have time for the tough end of your job because that's what produces results. Find someone else to do the busy work if it really does need doing.

Successful businesspeople always jump on the most important thing first. What's the most important thing you should do right now? Learning to answer that question quickly, then acting on it, will increase your productivity ten-fold. If you have a sales goal of let's say $1,000 in gross sales daily, start working on it as early in the day as your potential clients are available. Don't wait until you take care of other things before you start selling. The weight of that $1,000 in sales will crush you by day's end. Start doing this every morning, keep on doing it, and you'll soon discover that you're not worrying anymore. You're enjoying the work, you're feeling good about yourself, and you know you're winning.

If a challenge arises that you don't know what to do about, do your best to come up with an answer, but don't dwell on it too long. If you're not satisfied that what you've come up with is the best solution, write down how you'd like to resolve it even if what you write seems totally absurd. Then, set it aside and commit to returning to it later that day. Let your mind work on other things for a while. Then, when you come back to the challenge, you'll likely have a fresh perspective on it and find a better solution. If it's still not the ideal solution, do your best in handling it today. The longer you let challenges lie unresolved, the more likely they are to grow into something that'll be very difficult to resolve. Just tell yourself, "I'm going to handle this to the best of my ability today and will learn from this experience."

I'm a firm believer in self-instructions, also known as affirmations. Here's one about managing time wisely that I recommend you read daily for three weeks. You'll be amazed at what it'll do for you:

"I'm tough about my opportunity time. Nobody fritters it away. And I don't fritter my own opportunity time away doing busy work or engaging in unnecessary activities. When it's time to sell, I sell! But I'm loose about my replenishment time. I really kick back and relax when I'm off."

Tom Hopkins is world-renowned as "the builder of sales champions." For the past 30 years, he's provided superior sales training through his company, Tom Hopkins International.

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