Many agents who work from home hold themselves to standards so high that the line between work and home is even blurrier than it was before, says Lee Zanello, Brand Leader for Flight Centre’s host agency, Flight Centre Associates.
“On the surface, working and selling travel from home seems like a promise of limitless freedom, doesn’t it?” says Zanello. “An opportunity to have the flexibility to do what you love while at the same time finally striking that balance between work and home. [But] many of us know what happens next.”
The home-based agent’s strong work ethic and attention to client needs “push us more into our business than ever before”, says Zanello. “Suddenly our partners hear us tapping away on our keyboards during our favourite Netflix shows, pricing out the next dream getaway for favourite clients. Date night is interrupted by dropping off tickets to another client who has been too ill to get them himself. Email gets that one last check as we are getting into bed for the night.”
And it makes sense, says Zanello. “We want to be available to our clients. We truly love what we do. But there has to be some way to help strike that balance between where the home office ends and the home begins.”
With that in mind, Zanello has a few helpful tips shared recently at FCA get-togethers:
1. “The email auto-response is a must,” says Zanello. “I put mine on at 5 p.m. every single day. That doesn’t mean I don’t check and respond to my email several times throughout the evening, but what it does do is set the expectation for the person contacting me that they won’t hear back from me until the next day. This removes any stress or urgency I might feel about responding. The auto-response also implores the sender to call me if urgent. This gives me a bit more control over how my evening and family time play out.”
2. “Work related apps on my phone are grouped together on the next screen over, not my main home screen. This way, when I’m casually checking Facebook or crushing some candy I am not distracted by automatic notifications on my work-related apps.”
3. “I turn my email push notifications off every night so that I can check if I want (which again, I usually do) but my evening plans are not subverted by that one notification about an email offering me help in writing Business Cases.”
4. “Schedule appointments and calls with clients whenever possible. As good as it is that they are able to reach you anytime, setting an appointment schedule will help reinforce the fact that your time is valuable and will help you structure your days in a way where you can maximize productivity. Where possible, try not to schedule calls or meetings in the last hour of your day.”
5. “Lastly, an hour before you want your day to end, review everything on your to-do list and start pushing what you can off until the next day. We are all human and cannot do everything we want to in a day. Making this a habit gives you focus at the tail end of your day to complete the most urgent tasks and at the same time relieves the anxiety around things not getting done because you know that ‘Tomorrow You’ is going to start their day with a list already prepared.
Zanello adds that “it’s funny to think that to enjoy the freedom you are after, you have to exert some discipline, but once you can you’ll find that both your work and home lives will be better off for it.”
Zanello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 647-628-7353.