Written By: Scott Koepf MCC, CTC V.P. of Strategic Development – Cruise Planners
I am often asked the following question at the seminars I teach:
“What is the one thing that all successful advisors have in common?”
“What is the most important skill to master to lead to success?”
“What can I do, starting today, to reach my goals?”
While there are many hats that each Travel Advisor wears and multiple skills that need to be learned and developed, the answer to those questions is the same. Indeed, I would say it is the primary element needed for success in any business career but maybe even more important if you work independently or work from home. The answer is simple but putting it into practice requires extraordinary discipline. Is it Marketing? Sales? Customer Service? Product Knowledge? Financial Acumen? Actually, it will help and determine your success in each of those areas but not one of them specifically. All right, enough teasing – the answer is:
Oh, that. It is not a secret tip and not sexy and not something you can do once and hit your goals. When I give this answer in person, the reaction is sadly similar. There is a nod of agreement with a hint of guilt and acknowledgement that the questioner may have known the answer all along, but hoped there was something else I would come up with. Nope. Every skill and all knowledge of every aspect of this business have one thing in common. They take time. Scheduled, calendared and focused time.
Over the next few months I will provide some specific suggestions to implement time management skills. However, lets start by taking a look at why time management is so important because we can all agree that:
“Time Keeps on Slippin’, Slippin’, Slippin’, Into the Future”
-Steve Miller Band
Throughout our industry we recognize and reward sales results. There is nothing wrong with that as it is the primary end result that we all need to track in our businesses. However, what we do not know when the accolades are given, is how many hours of work did it take to get to that sales figure. We can all celebrate Advisors who have sold one million dollars in a year but imagine if they also reported the number of hours dedicated to their business during that year. One Advisor may report that they work 10 hours a day six days a week to reach that goal, but another may say they put in six hours per day five days per week. Same result but a huge difference in productivity, not to mention lifestyle!
Setting sales goals is important, but determining the efforts and hours needed to reach that goal may be even more important! The example above is based on reality as we all know some people who just seem to be able to accomplish more in less time. The good news is that time management is a skill that anyone can learn and put into practice. An effective time management program will:
- Focus the use of time effectively to achieve desired results.
- Provide understanding of how we spend our time.
- Integrate tools and processes for efficiency and increased productivity.
- Improve work-life balance
- Lower stress levels
- Create more time for the important things in life and business
- Develop delegation and organizational skills
- Enable goal achievement
All of these benefits are within reach by creating and following a specific time management system. Imagine the impact of ‘finding’ some extra time each and every day. The following quote indicates that time management (and the related skill of organization) are not uncommon and have a dramatic cost!
“The average executive spends six weeks each year looking for something in their office!”
– Wall Street Journal
While this quote is from a few years ago, the only difference is that we may now say the time is lost looking for something in their computer as well as their office! The key to Time Management is not to confuse activity with accomplishment. We can all relate to a day that seemed really busy but at the end of the day you question if you actually got anything done.
“The Cult of Busyness – complaining is actually boasting. If we are busy – we are more important (or look more important by being on our cell phone)” – Barbara Moses PhD
In other words, being busy does not equal being productive or efficient. It also calls into question the point I made earlier as to how many hours it takes you to reach certain sales results. In addition, if you find yourself so busy chasing your business goals, what happens to your personal life? Author Patrick Morley, when asked how he is doing in casual conversations, would say:
“Busy but Balanced!”
As you can imagine, this astonished some people and made many others mad. He would explain that, like most of us, he likes to be busy and enjoys it, but that he has made sure he has balanced all of the areas of his life so that business or busyness does not control his life. While balance may not be achievable as to the exact number of hours you spend in your business versus your personal life, it can be in balance so that you are enjoying success in business and enjoying a great lifestyle. We will dig into how there are steps to help make this a reality for you over the next few months. In the meantime, I will close with this brilliant quote and empower you to also do what is sometimes the hardest thing for Travel Advisors to do – say no!
“I am most proud of what Apple chose NOT to do.”
– Steve Jobs