Al Uszynski

Article Summary:

How can you work efficiently? Find your "fifth gear".

Work Efficiently: Operate in "Fifth Gear"

Have you ever planned a party, wedding or vacation? If so, you know how it feels when months and weeks turn into days and hours; time is running out, but the list of tasks continues to grow. While the burden may seem overwhelming at times, you find a way to chip away at the long "to-do" list and eventually get everything accomplished on time.

Wouldn't it be great if every day you could produce as much as you can when deadlines are fast approaching? The truth is that you can - we all can! We just choose not to most of the time. It's human nature to slow down a bit when deadlines aren't looming. My advice to you is don't let yourself slow down. Always put full effort into the task at hand, complete it and then move on to the next important task. This is especially important for sales professionals, whose livelihood depends on selling as much as possible, as quickly as possible.

I find it annoying when people boast that they gave 110 percent to something. I don't think it's possible to give more than 100 percent to anything - after all, how can you give more than you have? The reality is that most people normally operate far below their potential. They put self-limiting performance caps on themselves that cause their normal operation to be well below 100 percent. This means that there is always room for improvement. To me, when someone brags about giving 110 percent, what they're really telling me is that they are working at a pace closer to their full potential.

The sales strategy here is to perform an honest and true evaluation of your everyday effort and performance levels. Are you investing full effort into what you do? Are you performing up to your complete potential? If not, then I can almost guarantee you that other salespeople (perhaps your competitors) are selling more in less time.

To achieve these goals and work up to your full potential, I challenge you to operate in fifth gear. Please don't misinterpret this to mean that you should run around at top-speed like a maniac, talk as fast as you can and rush people through meetings. To operate in fifth gear is to do the following.

Plan your route
There's a reason that practically every time-management guru out there recommends making a to-do list every day - it works! Remember, do not simply list tasks, prioritize them. Consider the importance and urgency of each item as you plan your day's "route."

Drive efficiently
Make sure you have systems in place to help you work in an efficient manner. If you're constantly multi-tasking at work, it's like trying to drive, talk on your cell phone, find a map in the glove compartment, and drink your morning coffee all at once. Not only is this inefficient, it's dangerous. When you drive, you should focus on driving. And when you work on a project, focus on that project until it's done.

Push your speed limit
When deciding which line to stand in at the supermarket, you probably consider the number of customers in line and the amount of stuff in their carts. But the time you'll wait in line largely depends on how swiftly the cashier is scanning items and processing transactions. If items on your to-do list were customers standing in line, would they be frustrated by your lethargic pace, or would they be impressed with your brisk tempo?

Take no detours
As tempting as it is to talk with coworkers about the playoff race, reality TV or the weather, doing so doesn't help you sell more. Eliminate distractions. If you work with a sense of purpose and urgency, people usually won't interrupt you to shoot the breeze. If you casually lollygag around, you're wasting valuable productive time - which translates to you selling less and earning less.

Find the smoothest ride
Don't make tasks more difficult or involved than necessary. Get them done and do them well, but don't turn a half-hour task into a two-hour project.

Arrive at your destination
Don't be one of those people who works all day but never gets anything done. Make sure you accomplish the projects and tasks that you set out to do.

Learn to operate in fifth gear every day and you, too, will learn how great it feels to sell more in less time in any economy.

Al Uszynski helps companies and individuals sell more, earn more and profit more. As a sales trainer and professional speaker, he helps his clients achieve outstanding business results. Al is the founder of Selling Resource. Get the free sales tips newsletter and free report "12 Mistakes Salespeople Make" at or read more at

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