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3 Sales Lessons Learned from Missing My Train: Lesson 1 “Parkinson’s Law”

Sales lessons learned through screwing up.

I did it, so you don’t have to.

I open my eyes, it is 4:58am and my alarm should have rang over an hour ago. Today is my second day at my new job and I am scheduled to accompany my CEO on his trip to Boston. Our train is leaving at 6:20am. I have been excited about this trip since I first found out about it last week and it’s a BIG deal to me, it’s a great opportunity to both learn a lot and spend some time getting acquainted with my new boss. I made sure to prepare and get to bed early.

I jump out of bed, adrenalin running through my body and I scream: “How (insert your favorite profanity here) did this happen!?”. I check the alarm, 3:45am as I set it last night. I take a moment to collect myself; there is still plenty of time. I tell myself: “I will make it!”. I just need to be on my 1st train by 5:15am, no problem. Much to the surprise of my girlfriend I’m fully dressed and look like a million bucks 6 minutes later.

Lesson 1 – Parkinson’s Law

A task will grow in complexity according to the time allocated to it. My morning routine usually takes me 1 hour on average, yet I managed to do just about everything in 6 minutes!

So many times in sales we give ourselves far too much time, make things way too complicated and as a result lose valuable productive time and energy. Multi-tasking, reading email in between making calls and so on kills your attention, focus and productivity.   Giving yourself short deadlines, with uninterrupted chunks of time keeps you productive by focusing your mind and attention on what is important. At the same time you eliminate busy but unproductive activities. If you need to finish a proposal or make that important call, give yourself a short deadline and do everything you can to get it done. If in addition to this you also prioritize right you will free up several hours each day.

My girlfriend is kind enough to drive me to the train station. She also informs me that she made and packed me a sandwich. (Did I mention that she is the best? Well she is). With my heart still racing, I get to the train station at 5:10am. For a moment it looks like everything will work out after all. 20 minutes later however, there is still no train in sight. I’m starting to panic. Why not take car service you may ask? Good question. I briefly ponder the same thing, but we will get back to this in a bit. I finally see a train coming. My optimism is short lived when I find out that the train is not only going at a snail’s pace, but it’s also going local instead of express. Not exactly operating from my higher level thinking, I weigh my options: stay on the train and hope for a miracle or get off and try to find car service. I foolishly decide to stay the course.

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