Debbie Mayo-Smith international inspirational motivational how-to speaker technology, time management, improving business performance
Motivational Speakers, Sales, Marketing, Time Management, Productivity, Technology, Tips

Taskmaster does the thinking for you

You wouldn't think someone could write an 800-word article about a simple computer function, would you? I am because I'd like to extol the virtues of Tasks, as it's called by Microsoft. Otherwise known as To Do in Lotus Notes and similarly named in many other software products.

Why? Because with a bit of clever thinking, this function can take you from being good at sales, good at customer service, good at business development or relationship management, to being utterly spectacular.

We all have "to do" lists. Most people maintain their lists mentally. Some write down a list or have 17 half-crossed-out lists scattered all over the place. If you use your computer to prompt you, it will probably be from your software's calendar. Wrong place: the calendar is for appointments and meetings only, so reminders you put there make you look unnaturally busy.

Only a minority of people use their Task function, but even then only as a short-term reminder system.

Let me tell you about Wayne McCarthy, a top real estate agent with Barfoot and Thompson. His story takes place over five years.

A couple from England asked Wayne to help them find a home in Auckland. He worked with them over two years while they were in town during the summers. A few months into the third year, from England they purchased a home sight unseen, online from a different firm. They emailed Wayne to let him know.

Even though he lost the business, Wayne continued to stay in touch. Every four months or so he sent the couple a "good day" email. It was a simple "How are you? I don't know when you'll be in NZ but if you ever need a tradesman or anything similar let me know" email. Yes: even though they weren't clients. Yes: not mentioning anything to do with selling or buying property.

Two-and-a-half years pass - five years since Wayne first met the couple. On December 17 he gets a call from them, inviting him to drinks.

"We're not coming to Auckland as much as we thought. Would you sell the house for us?" they say. "Of course," Wayne replies, "but what about the agent you bought the house from?"

"Well, we never heard from him after he sold us the house. You've been loyal so we've called you."

There are many morals to this story. One of them has to do with your communications with a prospect. What would you have "talked about" and how often? Would you have tried to continue selling other products and services, instead of Wayne's tack of asking if there was anything he could help with?

In this example, persistency paid. Heaps. How is your persistence? Your tenacity?
Most people in business are interested only in nurturing prospects that will do business with them instantly.

How did Wayne remember to stay in touch time after time? If you write a follow-up in your A5 Collins Diary, what happens if you're due to email on a Wednesday but didn't get a chance to do it? It's now Thursday. Do you go back to Wednesday and rewrite it as a Thursday to do?

Wayne would have set a Task to remind him to email the English couple, and he could have the Task recur every four months. Furthermore, if he doesn't get to it on the appointed day, it will stay there and remind him until he either deletes it or checks it off as completed.

Once you create a Task, on the appointed day at the appointed time, a small box will open on your screen telling you the Task is due. You can also set a recurring task.
How can you use Tasks to raise the bar of your business performance?

To follow up:
In the long term - over six months or a year - on quotes or proposals that didn't eventuate.
When a client will need your services again (such as annual conferences, parties, meetings).
On current quotes, proposals.
On important emails you've sent that have remained unanswered.
On customer service problems (especially if they are not expecting a future call/contact).

To remind:
Staff, when reports or other items are due.
Yourself, to renew things such as domain names, licensing agreements, contracts.
Yourself, to call important clients every 12 weeks or so.

With staff:
Project management - including assigning Tasks to staff.
Following on from meetings - Task action items to the people who are responsible for them.

In closing, think of Tasks/To Do not only as your automatic memory, not only as your aide in persistency/tenacity.

Free up your mind from worrying about it. Forget it. Then let your computer remind you when the time has come.

Debbie Mayo-Smith (BSc Hons Econ) is an International Motivational Business Speaker and Managing Director of SuccessIS! ( and a leading specialist in easy practical ways to improve business profitability, personal productivity and Internet marketing. Debbie lives in NZ and travels the world speaking, writing and training. By the way, if you'd like to get lots of neat tricks like this, plus marketing and business development tips, why not enrol for our free newsletter?

This article is copyright to Debbie Mayo-Smith & SuccessIS. You may use it for your newsletter, website or as an article. It can be reproduced - but in its entirety and with inclusion of Debbie Mayo-Smith as the author and the weblink


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