Abraham Lincoln said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” It amazes me how much time we can waste simply because we have not prepared well.

When I do my secretarial temping, I’m known as a really fast and efficient filer. Want to know my secret? No, it’s not that I love filing. Trust me, I don’t. It’s because I take the time to put everything in order before I approach the filing cabinet. I have a great sorter (it’s like an open-sided expanding file with alphanumerical tabs) that I carry with me to temp assignments. With it I can get everything in order quickly and easily. That keeps me from moving from file drawer to file drawer over and over. I move efficiently from the front to the back in each drawer, moving to another only once I’ve finished in that one.

In business, that preparation can take many forms. It can mean having a list of contacts at the ready for when you find yourself with a free 10-15 minutes in which to make calls. It can mean taking the time periodically to create several generic host kits so that when someone schedules a party you can quickly add details (specials and such) and mail or deliver them.

Being prepared, in my case, also means making sure that I have a small cache of catalogs, order forms, and current specials so I’m ready when I need them. I walked into a small country store not long ago as a woman was walking out. She came right back in and asked if I was a consultant for my direct sales company. She had just asked the store owner about a particular type of product we carry, and the store owner had suggested she contact someone from our company. She walked outside and saw the sign on my van. While I shopped she filled out the order form, and I completed a $40+ sale before I left.

Being prepared does take a little more time up front, but it saves much more time in the long run.


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