If you’re like most people, 24 hours in a day isn’t enough time to accomplish that mile-long to-do list. How are you expected to get your vacation planning done, eat three meals, have a social life, and get some sleep?
It’s easy to overlook the things in life that keep you from completing tasks. Things like checking your emails, hopping onto Facebook for a quick look, and answering text messages. You think, “I’ll just check one thing,” – and before you realize it, you’ve wasted an hour browsing social media.
I’m Sheila, the CEO of TIS and my own travel agency. As a hustling mom and business owner, I’ve gathered a few time-management tricks that have boosted my productivity beyond what I ever thought was possible.
If you find yourself wondering where your day has gone like I used to, you probably need some help with time management.
How do you stay on task and avoid wasting time? Before we jump into how you can manage your time better, let’s explore what time management actually is.
What Is Time Management?
Time management involves planning and managing how long it takes to complete certain activities. It’s generally used for plotting out important tasks by adding a time limit for each item on your list.
Limiting distractions is key to successful time management for any travel agent. This helps you focus on completing tasks within the time frame that you set – allowing you to craft higher quality trip itineraries in less time.
Paying careful attention to how you spend your time will shed light on the effectiveness of your schedule. Analyze what you do throughout the day and watch what activities consume most of your time.
To understand proper time management skills, you need to know what the benefits are.
Benefits of Good Time Management
When you learn how to leverage your time, it opens up your schedule to get more travel-related work done. You feel in control of your schedule, which empowers you to accomplish more. It’s a win-win.
Time management has increased in popularity in the last 30 years, giving experts time to create effective strategies that anyone can use. If you struggle with staying on task, there are many ways to learn how to save your valuable time so you can focus on building a solid travel business that will thrive for years.
The main benefit of time management is that you’re in control of how you spend your time. For example, schedule your trip planning sessions for early in the day so you can organize more opportunities for client outreach and keep your life-work balance healthy.
Finding the process that works for you is helpful in a variety of areas. You’ll be able to…
– Accomplish your goals faster
– Get rid of those annoying habits you can’t seem to shake (hello checking flight deals 24/7)
– Have a clearer idea of what to do each day from when you wake up to when you shut down your laptop
– Reduce your stress astronomically
What do successful time management strategies look like for busy travel agents?
Effective Time Management Tools
You have the world at your fingertips. It’s so easy to waste time on useless things. Then again, you also feel like you waste time on important things – like sitting on hold with suppliers.
Waiting on hold is a necessary evil for travel advisors. It can feel like it cuts into your day – pushing off work that needs your attention. How do you work this into your scheduling without it ruining your whole day?
Try identifying when wait times are the shortest. If you know wait times are less in the early morning – call then. Avoid waiting until lunchtime when every other travel advisor is calling as well.
The Developmental Academy performed a study that revealed 4 in 5 people don’t know how to manage their time effectively. With these time management tips, you won’t be one of those four! Soon, you’ll find your productive days outweighing your bad days. Here are three time-management methods to try out:
1. The Eisenhower Matrix Method
Created by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, this time management technique helps you prioritize tasks according to importance. Less urgent things can be paired down or delegated.
Eisenhower created four categories to sort your tasks:
- Do First: Focus on what needs done today, like sending your new client their trip proposal.
- Schedule: Schedule less-important work, like organizing your promotional emails, for another day.
- Delegate: Pass urgent tasks off to others, like writing your daily travel destination post for social media.
- Don’t do: Skip the things you don’t really need to do, like color-coding the different cruise lines in your folder of supplier information.
Whether you’re a control junkie or merely disorganized, this time management technique is perfect for getting you back on track.
2. “Eat the Frog” Time Management Method
This uniquely named method is my personal favorite and is based on a quote by Mark Twain:
“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”
Prioritizing can be overwhelming at first but eating the biggest frog first can make it easier to gulp down the rest of your work. Organizing your work for the day will be much easier when you accomplish the big, dreaded things before moving on to the smaller, more enjoyable tasks.
3. The Time Blocking Method
The time blocking method is better suited to those who have a more structured day. It can still be an effective tool for the more disorganized schedule by helping you stay on track and learn how to manage your time more effectively.
This particular method has you break your day into chunks – or time blocks. It spreads your to-do list out into a more manageable time frame.
It works best by adding even the smallest tasks to your schedule – things like checking your email from 9-9:30, answering Facebook messages from 9:30-10, and even timing your breaks.
You’ll find it helps you stay focused on the task at hand by limiting distractions. You can do this by leaving your phone in another room, closing your email when you’re finished with it, or not snacking while you work (hey, we know how the munchies can hit anytime).
Not sold on methods? Here’s our last two tips to help move you in the right direction.
4. Learn to Delegate or Outsource
If you’re a self-proclaimed control freak, this time management method might feel impossible. But if you want to stay on top of your to-do list, you will need to delegate or outsource sooner rather than later.
Maybe you can delegate posting on social media to a team member – or ask them to manage your agency’s weekly newsletters. Pass off the items that aren’t too hard to do, but you hate doing.
It’s okay to admit you aren’t good at something – not everyone is a tech-wizard! If you can’t figure out how to set up an email platform to send newsletters, it’s time to outsource the work to someone who knows the ropes.
There’s no shame in that!
Giving work to others can feel lazy – or even downright scary. But it’s necessary for the growth of your business.
5. Just Say “No”
Saying “no” is one of the most important time management tricks you can use.
And you know what? It’s okay!
For your business to succeed, you have to put your foot down. Tell that client you can’t book their Disney trip because your primary focus is Caribbean destinations. It doesn’t make you a bad business owner. In fact, it shows that you value your client’s time.
If you’re in a busy stage of life (or if you aren’t), give yourself the freedom to tell friends and family you can’t attend events. Sometimes you need to hunker down and weather the storm. And sometimes you just need some rest.
Find Inspiration in Time Management
Once you learn how to plan your schedule ahead of time, it ignites a fire. It keeps you motivated and focused. Let’s be real, how satisfying is it to check things off your to-do list?
There’s freedom in order – and time management helps you find that freedom.
As you plan your day, schedule time to improve yourself. Listen to an inspirational TED talk or find tips from other travel advisors. Not only does this keep you motivated, but it keeps you fueled up with fresh ideas for your business.
Find an experienced “travel buddy” to keep you accountable. This could be a business coach, fellow travel advisor, or trusted friend. Your buddy can help you stay on track and offer advice when you need it. Having someone to turn to with your questions is a lifesaver.
Free Resources for Time Management and More
Whether you’re a pro at time management or you found this article after a desperate Google search – there’s something here for everyone!