October 04, 2022 I Next Gen Retailing I by Scott Rife

Take Charge of Your Time

Writer William Penn was spot-on when he said, ”Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” When attempting to manage emails, meetings, customers and dealdines, there often seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day. So, here are a few lessons I’ve learned and some tools that have helped me to make the most of every minute of the day.

Timezones Are your Friend
I live in Nashville, Tennessee, but my company, Eastman Music, is based in Pomona, California. This means that if I’m up and running at 8 a.m., I have until around 10 am my local time until folks are in the office and the flood of emails and phone calls starts pouring in. I’ve made a conscious effort to make those two hours count and take care of tasks that are usually derailed by fires to put out. I can also submit a healthy amount of work for our customer service team during those two hours so that they can hit the ground running when they make it to the office, and I can move on to other projects.

Learn to Say “Not Now, But Later”
One tool I’ve started to employ is instead of saying “no,” telling the person, “This isn’t something that I can dedicate time to this week, but I could work on this next Thursday. Does that timeframe work for you?” If you let tasks pile up, then you’ll be in a state of perpetually digging yourself out. Instead of trying to make non-existent time suddenly materialize, work on filling up your future calendar.

Intentional Scheduling
We’ve all done it. You send an email that goes something like: “I’d like to schedule a call to discuss, when are you free?” Then we wait. And wait. And make plenty of other plans in the meantime, only to find out that the only time that person can meet you is already filled in your calendar. Years ago I learned a simple but effective trick from Dansr’s Mike Skinner: When you want to get someone to commit to a time, always offer at least two options. If I ask someone if they want to meet Thursday at 3 p.m. or Friday at 3 p.m., they will either pick one of those two times, or they’ll tell me that neither works for them and propose an alternative.

You also want to schedule meetings when they work for you, not vice versa. That’s why I’ve started using a scheduling tool called Calendly to keep meetings brief, about 30 minutes, and within my available time. Calendly integrates with your existing calendars and gives you a link to send to someone so they can schedule a meeting with you during day and times that you set, while automatically avoiding scheduling conflicts. I have saved countless back and forth emails trying to nail down when to have a meeting. For those of you in the Microsoft ecosystem, Microsoft Bookings is a similar tool.

Train Away the Small Stuff
I noticed I was spending an inordinate amount of time on some basic questions my customers had, such as where to find their tracking numbers, serial numbers, copies of invoices, etc. I realized that if I made a conscious effort to “train” my customers on where this info was, I could stop answering the same questions over and over. I made an example invoice and labeled every part, showing where all serial numbers, tracking numbers and due dates could all be found. In no time, these emails disappeared.

Time management can be tough, but by making a conscious effort, we can all become more efficient. Work in these tips, and you might be amazed at how much time you really do have. MI

Scott Rife is a current NAMM Young Professionals member and regional sales manager at Eastman Music Company located in Nashville, Tennessee. NAMM YP consists of young professionals in the music industry.

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