Staying Internally Focused

During my career, I have managed a lot of salespeople. I’ve had the privilege to help guide and develop people who were much better at delivering the pitch and convincing the customer than I was or will ever be. Why then was I the boss? What I lacked in say “the natural gift” of relationship building (I am a high introvert), I made up in the ability to be focused, internally focused.

Scarlett was a natural. She was highly competitive, determined, and had an endless supply of energy to stay on course and complete the sale. She constantly pushed to be at the top of the team rankings.

However, selling is not just about the sale. In many cases long-term selling occurs between shipments of a product or the completion of a service agreement. It’s the dedication and attention to detail that takes you from a “one hit” client wonder to a high performer that constantly delivers.

Scarlett operated well in the mechanics of selling, but struggled to stay fully focused in areas she did not like or felt were not as important. Her situation is not unique. All of us can be very productive in activities we like to do but may lose that focus in areas that we have to do or don’t like to do. That is when we allow distractions, procrastination, and motivation to disrupt our internal focus.

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As noted from my book, The Time-Optimized Life:

From the hundreds of Time Management Analysis (TMA) reports, 40 percent of the participants struggle with procrastination most or all of the time! A whopping 54 percent battle some or a little of the time, and only 6 percent have no issue at all with deferring projects, tasks, or assignments. At some point, you are going to get stuck.

Scarlett procrastinated on the administrative stuff like expense reports, weekly updates, client complaints, internal team follow-up. Because those did not give her the “sales rush” she got when closing a sale, she would often defer them to later. However, as those “unattractive” activities began to build up, eventually Scarlett would have to block off extended periods of time trying to catch up on paperwork or non-sales related follow-up before she could continue selling.

If she had invested smaller increments of clerical requirements, she would have had more time to sell.


Scarlett’s competitive nature was a double-edged sword. It drove her to convert prospects to clients, but it also took her off course to worry too much about how others were performing related to her. These workplace distractions led her to get immersed in too much office politics.

Distractions can hit you in three different ways.

  • Electronics – created from your phone, screens, and social media.
  • Personal – things like a lack of sleep, thirst, biological breaks, hunger, and anxiety.
  • Professional – including gossip, too many meetings, micro-management, and a noisy work environment.


When Scarlett wanted to be, there was no one better motivated to succeed. You probably guessed that her motivation was self-selected on the things she liked.

Again, from my book, The Time-Optimized Life.

Motivation and procrastination go hand in hand. Usually, if you are positively motivated, there is a drive and determination that crowds out procrastination. Likewise, when you are procrastinating, there will be some elements of being negatively motivated in the mix. Therefore, the motivation you need to tap into when there is a loss of internal focus should provide incentive and inspiration and cause you to step forward.

Scarlett needed to be reminded and coached to work on all aspects of her job to be able to use her time as effectively as possible, which would afford her the maximum opportunity for a bonus.

Staying Internally Focused

There is time-optimized power in staying internally focused. Overcoming procrastination, minimizing distractions, and keeping a motivated spirit in all areas of your life will let you have a proactive process that keeps you focused on that focus.

So, what about Scarlett? She figured it out. While I have not talked with her in a few years, she has gone on to be highly successful. She led teams with a variety of different companies and today is her own boss. She has so many natural giftings (as we all do). When just a little more focus was placed on areas that may not have been her favorite, those giftings propelled her forward to time-optimized success.

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David Buck is the author of the book The Time-Optimized Life, owner of Kairos Management Solutions, LLC, and founder of the Infinity Lifestyle Design program. As a certified professional retirement coach (CPRC), David works with financial services providers helping their clients create a post-career lifestyle strategy. To learn more, contact him at or visit Infinity Lifestyle Design.

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