Maximize Your Minutes

By Kelly Quigley, REALTOR® Magazine

Time Traps: Proven Strategies for Swamped Salespeople by Todd M. Duncan (Nelson Books, 2005)

Buy this book from

You can’t slow down time, but you can change the way you spend it. When you invest your minutes wisely and avoid the many “traps” that clutter your day with busywork, you’ll find that eight hours a day is more than enough time to reach your sales goals and have a fulfilling personal life, Duncan writes. “Do you live to work or work to live?” he asks.

This motivational book explores eight traps that busy salespeople encounter, including the Control Trap (wasting time hoarding tasks), the Yes Trap (wasting time saying yes), the Quota Trap (wasting time counting sales), and the Party Trap (wasting time celebrating success), with each chapter ending with a time-saving summary of the main points. The overriding lessons: Break unproductive habits, focus on activities with the highest payoff, and make time to pursue dreams. “Take an honest inventory of your life,” Duncan writes. “Is it a reflection of your uniqueness, your ardent desires—or are you on autopilot, just going through the motions, filling up time?”

Tips From the Book:

  • Don’t buy gadgets you don’t need. Sometimes technology isn’t better. It’s just prettier. There may be a subtle pressure to have the hippest tools available, but if you can accomplish something more efficiently without a tool, then don’t buy one just because everyone else has one. Do away with gadgets that are eating up your time, and learn how to use each tool to its fullest.
  • Never call a prospect unexpectedly. Don’t call a prospect who isn’t expecting your call or isn’t excited to talk to you. If they don’t know who you are and why you want to speak with them, you will waste your time and theirs. To make the communication more productive, warm up the prospect before the call. Send them a memorable letter about your services that will evoke their curiosity, or ask a common friend or colleague to introduce you or arrange the meeting.
  • Work without interruptions. How often do you surf the Web, check stocks or sports scores, e-mail friends, tell jokes, straighten up your work area, or shop online? Record how you spend time during your workday, and you may be surprised at how much of it is eaten up by time-wasting activities. Get disciplined and eliminate these tasks to free up time, which you could spend on business development, time with family, or a vacation. Set segments of time to work on defined revenue-generating activities and eliminate all other distractions.