A Conversation with Productivity Expert Steven Steinhart.

We asked Steve Steinhart, one of the nation’s leading hospitality sales consultants, to provide helpful tips and time management strategies you can use to eliminate “time robbers” and get more work done.

What are “Time Robbers?”

Time robbers can be an individual, a group, a meeting or a task. Time robbers are other people’s priorities, an administrative workload, internal meetings that take place. Quite simply, Time Robbers are anything that take you off your daily schedule.

I think we would all agree that we would get more done if we had more time in the day. My position is that we can in fact add more time to our workday by taking back some of that crucial time each day by examining, exploring and eliminating the most common Time robbers.

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You’ve done thousands of time and motion audits for your clients. In your experience, what are the top 3 most common time robbers for meeting and event professionals?

The top 3 Time Robbers in the meetings and events industry are:

-Internal staff meetings
-Lack of organizational skills

What are some daily strategies we can employ to be more productive?

The number one daily strategy to be more effective in getting your tasks done is to begin your to-do list for tomorrow before you leave for work today.

That way you already have a jump on your tasks for tomorrow and you won’t be spending precious time planning during your peak productive hours, you’ll be spending that time completing your tasks instead.

The next most effective daily productivity strategy is to learn how to handle interruptions.

When we have a momentum going we’re often very effective in getting our tasks done. If we’re interrupted for anything unrelated to our tasks, we’re suddenly out of the moment and we lose valuable time trying to regain that momentum. We really need to be able to teach our colleagues to be respectful of our time and not to interrupt us when we are in “peak performance” mode.

Our industry in based on meetings. Are you suggesting that we no longer have them?  

We need to distinguish between the two types of meetings. One is the meetings between a planner and a supplier (or a supplier and a client). That’s a good meeting, and the more of those we have, the better. The meetings I’m talking about that act as the biggest time robbers are sales meetings, revenue management meetings, menu reading meetings and the like.

Too many of these meetings are occurring between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.— and that’s prime time for selling and deal making. We shouldn’t be holding internal meetings during those peak selling times. Every minute that you’re in a meeting between 9 and 5 is a moment that you could have but you didn’t spend talking with a potential customer or client.

In our webcast, we’re going to give you tips and suggestions on what you can do to overcome this biggest of all time robbers.

Such As?

Well, for starters, all meetings need to have specific start and end times. Some meetings need to have an agenda. Your team also needs to be receptive to the idea that some meetings should really be postponed until everyone has had an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the topic before the meeting actually begins.

This sounds like common sense but you’d be surprised at how many meetings start without a set agenda or a clear understanding of the topic to be discussed. Meetings should NOT be brainstorming sessions that are scheduled during valuable sales or booking time.

“Setting priorities” is a phrase that you use a lot in your webcast. How big a factor is that in eliminating time robbers?

When it comes to setting priorities for our time and our tasks, you really need to take it to the next level. For example, you need to tackle your most difficult tasks during your peak performance times— but those times may differ for every individual. In the webcast, we’ll look at how you determine your peak performance times. We’ll uncover that productivity and effective time management is not just about getting through your tasks but getting through them at the best possible times of day.

What other strategies can we employ to help prioritize our tasks?

I recommend that for every task we have, we ask ourselves the following questions:

-Must this task be done today?
-What if this task is not done today?
-What if this task never gets done?
-Can I get someone else to do this task?

Running every task on your to-do list through this algorithm will help you assign the priority on which these talks should be handled. More importantly, evaluating your tasks in this way will often eliminate tasks altogether once you realize that not every task on your list needs to be completed by you.

Be sure to register for our free webcast, Critical Analytics of a Sales Manager’s Day – Selling vs. Servicing vs. Admin.