Laura Del Rosso
Laura Del Rosso

Home-based travel agents have a lot of demands on their time, and their home offices often don't help: they can be full of distractions that affect productivity. So said Nexion agents at a recent conference in Santa Clara, Calif., where a brainstorming session took place in which agents exchanged their favorite time management ideas. Some agents said they make it a point to start work early in the morning before phone calls or emails interrupt workflow. Others said they work more efficiently if they've had some exercise first, so the gym or an at-home treadmill is the first stop in the morning before settling down at their desks.

Many were in agreement about one old-fashioned tool they use: Post-it notes, typically lined up in full view to stay focused on the most important tasks that need to get done that day.

Others said that they often listen to supplier and destination webinars to stay up on industry news and education but that they multitask while doing so, responding to email and posting on Facebook and other social media platforms while listening.

Other time management tips and comments that the agents shared included:

• Hire a personal assistant or ask family to help during the busiest times.

• Limit the amount of time you “chatter” on the phone with clients and get to the point in conversations.

• Call yourself on your cell phone as an excuse to get off the office line with someone who is taking too much of your time.

• Take a walk and make phone calls at the same time.

• Use the freedom of working from home to take a break when you need it: unplug and clear your head to increase productivity and reduce the chance of burnout.

• Plan the next workday the night before and prioritize what's important so that you're ready to start immediately the next morning.

• Eliminate clients who are not profitable. Charge a retainer fee to all clients so that all your sales are profitable.

• Recognize and limit outside distractions at home.

• Set time limits for tasks, such as time spent on Facebook or the Internet.

• Keep passwords on a spreadsheet for quick reference.

• Act on emails the first time you see them so that you don't need to go back and review them at the end of the day.

• Don't procrastinate. Create incentives for yourself to get your least favorite tasks done within a certain time period: a dinner out or something else you'll look forward to at the end of the workday.

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