As a travel business owner, you likely wear many hats and pretty much do it all. Let’s see, when wearing your travel planner hat, you are responsible for responding to inquiries, communicating with suppliers to get multiple quotes, creating itineraries, speaking with and advising the prospect about the many options, staying on top of deposits and final payments, preparing your clients for travel, and the list goes on and on. And that’s only 1 hat!
When wearing your marketing manager hat, it is a full time job in and of itself. Between social media posts, e-zine articles to write, follow up from the last show at which you exhibited, I am ready to take a nap.
I haven’t even broached your other responsibilities like book keeping, accounting, compliance, office management. You know the drill, right? All this you are supposed to fit into 8 hours a day because outside of those hours, you probably have some hats in your personal life too – parent, spouse, volunteer, etc. So how does one get it all done?
“Crisis causes focus.” Most people who know me will readily tell you I am not the best project manager. In fact, I stink at it. But when I was a solo entrepreneur selling travel, learning and implementing all my new client attraction skills, I fell into an absolute crisis. I would be working 12-14 hours a day and not getting anything done, not to mention missing out on my little ones who were growing up way too quickly.
I had no choice but to figure it out and that’s when I discovered these 3 “Ninja Tools.” When I began using these 3 tools, I went from a constant state of reaction mode, to a constant state of response mode and for the first time in my life, felt in control of my day and my business. So, here they are!
1. Chunking the Calendar
One of the most common things people do first thing in the morning is also the worst thing they do for productivity. What is it? Checking e-mail.
My next sentence will certainly get your attention and may take some major convincing. Don’t check your e-mail first thing. When you do, your day revolves around other people’s needs and your business takes a back seat. Instead, check your emails 2 or 3 times a day during your designated appointment times for checking emails.
What I am saying here is begin the practice of chunking your calendar. Put appointments for everything in your calendar, including appointments to work on marketing each day and appointments for checking your email. Give yourself enough time to get really engaged in your marketing projects too. Turn everything else off during these appointments, like the phone and the email. If your clients leave a voicemail, you will still get back to them within an hour or two. If checking your e-mails and voicemails only twice a day really freak you out, add 2 sentences to an “out of office” reply or to your email signature line that says, “Most of my day is dedicated to being of service to my clients. I check my emails and voicemails twice a day and will get back to you within 24 hours.”
Establishing a solid marketing foundation takes a lot. When I first began creating my marketing foundation and then implementing all of the marketing systems, I felt so overwhelmed. It seemed like I would never get it all in place. And I didn’t know where to begin. The “Ninja Tool” that made the biggest difference for me was the mindmap.
To start, write down all the projects you want to complete. Put them all on one piece of paper. Then, simply decide which one you will focus on first. The best way to decide what to work on first is to ask yourself which project will bring about the most amount of clients in the least amount of time with the least amount of effort? In other words, which project is going to bring about the lowest hanging fruit? Put a star next to that project and focus on it until completion. Don’t let yourself get distracted by any other project. Just focus on that one single project until it is done. So, for example, you might have the following projects on your mindmap:
- Starting a weekly e-zine
- Get on Facebook
- Speaking engagements
- Create an Irresistible Free Offer
- Start a Blog
I would tell you to star the weekly e-zine project because it will bring about the most amount of clients in the least amount of time with the least amount of effort. So you could star that project and work on it until completion. Once it’s done, move on to another project.
3. 1-Day Productivity Planner
This is such a great tool for starting your day and getting SO much more accomplished. The 1-day productivity planner is a 1-page document that you print out and fill out first thing in the morning. It has 3 sections:
Projects – List out the 3 projects you are currently working on. For each project, write down the 5 things you must do to move the project forward. These are not necessarily things you must do TODAY. Rather, these are the 5 things that must happen to move the project forward whether they happen today, tomorrow, in a week or in a month.
People – In this section, you will create two lists. First, list the people you have to reach out to today, no matter what. Then, also list the people from whom you need something to move your project forward.
Priorities – This is your “to-do” list for the day. Here, write down the main things you must complete today, no matter what.
The best way to use your 1-day productivity planner is to start from the bottom and move up. In other words, start with section C and get those things done. Then move up to section B. You should not open your email account before getting to section B. And when you finally open your email account, rather than look through all the new emails, initiate e-mails to those people you must reach out to. Then, when you finally look through your emails, simply look for those people you are waiting on. If you don’t have an email from them, reach out to them again. Sometimes, it’s OK to be a hound. Finally, move up to Section A and get working on your projects.
You can easily combine all 3 of these “Ninja Tools” to get you focused, taking action and in charge of your day. Remember, when you organize your day based upon your inbox, you are really organizing your day according to other people’s agendas. You can still provide an excellent service for your clients, return their calls, and return their emails when you chunk your calendar and put your marketing on top.
Open your calendar and begin chunking your time. Schedule several hours each day to work on marketing projects. Schedule several hours each day to check your emails and return phone calls. Put together your mind map and hang it on a wall in your office, where you can see it daily. Last, but not least, create your own 1-day productivity planner and make it a habit to complete this first thing in the morning. When you start putting in place these productivity secrets, you will be amazed at how much more you are accomplishing!