Time Management: Work Smarter, Not Harder

Although we all have the same number of hours in a day, some people seem to accomplish more than others. Why is this so?

Noted author and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar had the answer. He once said, “Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem.” 

One way you can gain direction and, thus, manage your time, is through prioritizing. This requires you to determine what takes precedence among the myriad tasks you need or want to accomplish every day. 

When you establish priorities, you create accountability and a framework for getting things done. This framework allows you to organize existing responsibilities better. But, more importantly, it is a tool that can help you make decisions easily and efficiently, now and in the future. 

Prioritizing often is based on several factors. Here are a few:

Importance To determine a task’s importance, ask yourself this question: Does it relate to my agency’s mission statement? If it does not pertain to why your organization exists, there is little reason for it to be on your priority list. 

Urgency Whether it actually is urgent, almost every task seems to be categorized that way. However, if it was prioritized so that you performed it sooner, the rush (or panic) would be greatly reduced or even eliminated. 

Time required or available It is important to estimate how much time it will take to accomplish certain tasks. This knowledge will help you realize what you can and cannot do with the time available. It also spares you from trying to get things done at the last minute.

Relationships to other matters Completing something on your to-do list may not be as relevant or important for you as it is for someone else. Knowing that your work can help or hinder others will encourage you to better prioritize your work.

Let’s put these principles into action and view each of the tasks on your to-do list as a combination of being urgent and being important. You will assign each task a rating of one through four as follows: 

  • A task that is both important and urgent would be rated number 1. (For some people, a crisis is another name for a priority 1 rating.) A number 1 priority might be a situation in which you need to immediately resolve a customer complaint.
  • If the task is important but not urgent, it is rated as a number 2 priority. Rebooking a ticket could be viewed as a number 2 priority.
  • If something is urgent but not important, it is rated as a number 3 priority. A number 3 priority might be keeping current with fares.
  • If it is neither urgent nor important, it is rated as a number 4 priority. A number 4 priority might be filing brochures or reading an important industry article. 


Once your list is properly prioritized, you can get to work on the ones rated number 1. 

Finding your direction, prioritizing, and planning take an investment of time and energy, but the returns will be worth it. Rather than feeling that you made it through another hectic day, you will feel a sense of pride when you accomplish what you set out to do. By planning consistently, you will improve your attitude and skills in dealing with the nonstop changes affecting the travel industry. 

Next week, we’ll be wrapping up our series on soft skills by focusing on being empathetic and positive. If you are looking for more comprehensive learning for improving any of the five soft skills, you should know that The Travel Institute’s certification programs are designed to address the unique needs of the frontline sales agent (CTA®), the agency owner or manager (CTC®), and the business leader (CTIE®) and available on-demand for you to start at any time! The Travel Institute certified graduates hone these soft skills, and independent research proves they earn more.