Advice: "I work in SAAS sales, but I'm constantly distracted. How can I focus to hit my quota?"

Dear Quota Team, 

I’m in my third year in SAAS sales – I was lucky enough to get in through my best friend from college. I like the job, I like the potential, and I’m definitely not complaining. 

The problem for me though is that I have such a hard time staying focused consistently. Sometimes I can focus on the work, but most of the time, I’m super distracted by everything going on around me, Slack messages, phone notifications, emails, texting with my friends and GF (you get the picture). 

My numbers are pretty average. I’m never at the bottom of the board, but never at the top either. Meaning, I can keep my job for as long as I want. But I want more than that. I want to get to the next level, and make the BIG checks like we’ve all seen that others are making. And I know I can’t do that if I can’t get myself to focus for eight hours a day. Any tips or advice?

Distracted in New York 

--

Dear Distracted, 

If ever there was a relatable advice question, this is the one. It would be difficult to find someone who’s not struggling with focus in today’s distraction filled world. How can someone sit down and do focused, prolonged work when there is an endless stream of information, rapidly beamed into our brains through perfected algorithms twenty-four hours a day?

You’re not alone, but that doesn’t answer your question. Here are some tips: you mentioned that sometimes you can focus on work. When does that happen? Is it in the morning when you have a ton of energy? Or is it in the afternoon when you finally feel fully awake? Different people have different peaks, but if you can identify when your ability to focus is at its peak, you can structure your day so that you can be most productive during those times. 

Another thing you might want to try is the Pomodoro technique. It allows you to work in short, 25 minute bursts, broken up with either 5 or 15 minute breaks in between. You can literally use a timer to keep yourself on track, like this one. Just make sure you do it consistently, even when you don’t want to (this is the hard part). 

Finally, you need to set yourself up for success. That means adjusting your phone and laptop’s notifications so that things aren’t interfering with your ability to focus. Turn off everything that doesn’t have to do with your job, and close out the social media, the news, and the online shopping. It’s going to feel really uncomfortable for the first few weeks, but eventually you’ll get used to it. And the best part is: you’ll feel a whole lot better after a day of consistent, focused work than you will after a day filled with mindless distractions. You can do it! Good luck!

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