Travel agents are such a hardworking bunch – nothing slips by you guys – but every so often, the workload can seem overwhelming.
So what’s an agent to do when they find themselves working a bit too hard? Work smarter, of course! Easier said than done, but luckily we’ve got some ideas.
Whether it’s hiring an assistant, or planning your day out a bit differently, there are a few tricks you can adopt to give yourself more time to build dream holidays and kick butt in the agent business.
Check out some of these tips, and let us know what you do to work smarter, not harder.
Take more breaks
Yes, you read correctly – to work smarter, we’re advocating you take more breaks, which helps you work more efficiently. In a book by Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he tells the tale of a woodchopper whose saw gets blunter the more he chopped, making the work harder for himself.
If he’d just taken more breaks and sharpened the saw, the job would’ve been easier and saved both time and energy.
You see, on average, your brain is able to remain focused for only 90 minutes, and then you need at least 15 minutes of rest. If you push this boundary, trying to concentrate for longer periods of time, you’re just burning out your mental energy and slowing your workflow down.
To work more efficiently, you need to be able to schedule in little breaks – between client meetings, researching, or email catch-ups – to reset your attention span.
Designate a different place for different jobs
Have you ever worked in a new environment and noticed how much more efficiently you were able to work? There’s something about switching things up or changing your surroundings that puts the brain into a different gear, and gives it a renewed sense of focus.
Entrepreneur Joel Runyon shared a secret to his success, in which he moved locations and allocated specific jobs to each place, so that when he sat down in his new destination, he knew exactly what required his attention. Then when he was finished, he’d move on.
Now, not all of us have the luxury of café-hopping the day away, but perhaps try it out in your home office for a few days. When you’re catching up on emails in the morning, sit at your usual desk, then pick up your laptop and work on one client’s booking from the dining table. After you’ve finished that task, sit at a new desk in another room and focus on a different job there.
I mean, it helps if you’re a mobile agent for an agency like Travel Counsellors, where you can work from wherever you like, with all the support and technology sitting pretty on your laptop. Hell, if you’re into café-hopping, you’ve got the freedom to do so! Choose your own adventure.
How you sort out your task list is totally up to you, but the important part is having a clear finishing point based on your task list rather than the time. And when you move, walking is a good way to go, so your brain gets some space to chill out and reset.
Create a new email strategy
The constant notifications from technology are some of the biggest barriers to productivity, so why not tackle one of the worst – for many agents: the email. It’s a common problem that you’ll be tapping away at one job on your computer, then an email ‘ding’ pulls your focus, and before you know it, you’re down the email rabbit hole, with no idea what you were just working on.
One tip is to have designated times to check emails, which is hard when clients need you seemingly all the time. Create folders for each day of the week, and then during the designated time frames in your day for checking emails, either delete irrelevant emails or place them in the day of the week folder when you plan to respond.
You end goals is to never have any emails in your inbox, but have them all neatly tucked away in specific day of the week folders. And for your own sanity, turn the darn notification ‘ding’ off!
Enlist some help
If you’re lucky enough to have a few spare dollars to employ an assistant (ok, maybe a bit more than a few bucks) then it can do wonders for your productivity. There’s no greater feeling than palming off your arduous admin to someone else so you can focus on the meatier projects.
When you run your own business, you have the power to choose how to spend your time and when you start your own business with an agency like Travel Counsellors, for example, you’re part of a global business that pretty much tackles half your to-do list.
They provide benefits like access to a 24/7-crisis centre, greater buying power, IT investment and a vast network of agents. You literally get a local dedicated team that provides the support you need to get on with doing what you do best.
Even better is that with all that stuff taken care of, you can focus on your earning potential. 12.5 per cent of Travel Counsellors take home more than $160K!
Get out amongst nature
Whoever said nature does wonders for a productive mind – and there’s a lot of them – was completely right. Seriously!
Just like taking a break every 90 minutes or moving between work stations, slotting in some outdoor time is paramount to keeping your brain fresh, and working smarter in shorter working periods.
Spending time in nature (whether it’s an inner city park or just your backyard) gives your mind a chance to fully relax and unwind, meaning you can focus longer when you return to work.
Get a business coach
Sometimes, you just want someone to swoop in and tell you how to better manage your business, and believe us, there’s plenty of people out there willing to help.
A quick Google search of ‘marketing business coach’ will open your eyes to all the professionals who can help make sure your business is running as smoothly and efficiently as it can. You can even download simple DIY business plans to give you a nudge in the right direction.
Alternatively, if you are running your own travel business with a partner like Travel Counsellors, you can turn to your head office for support in this area.
With business coaches by your side to mentor you and help develop your business and a booking system where you are in control of your margins, you will be able to build a successful business of your own and maximise your earning potential.
And let’s not forget at Travel Counsellors, you also have a direct line to the CEO if you really want some advice or to troubleshoot some issues.