I was observing my pup Rigel at the dog park the other day. A quick glance would suggest a fast, elegant runner. In reality, he never keeps up with the pack and exerts way too much energy doing an adorable, but extremely inefficient, trot. I mentioned Rigel’s knack for taking up the rear of the race to another dog owner. Just as I said it, Rigel did his patented move. He gets so far behind the other dogs he can cut across easily and make a beeline for the fastest dog, take second place (for awhile) and start his chase anew. The other owner commented “Rigel isn’t slow, he just works smarter, not harder.” While I’m not sure his assessment of Rigel is true, he did have a point.
So I brought that thought to the office and started looking for ways to streamline my work. My new motto: Efficiency, not longer hours! I needed to set aside time where I shutdown my email account, put my phone on do not disturb, and met with my co-workers.
I began running through areas that would have the most impact if streamlined. By and far, the sign-up process for our home-based agents kept popping up. And that’s where my thoughts have been focused this past week.
Another lesson I had learned early on in my career is that the team you work with can make your job really easy and enjoyable, or really difficult and unpleasant. I’m extremely fortunate to be on a team that meshes extremely well, where we all see feedback as way to improve ourselves and ideas are shared openly. So I announced my plan to revamp our signup system and we marked our calendars for a mid-week, hour-long meeting of the minds. While that hour means we each fall slightly behind and there are three less bodies to answer phones, the pay back will come in increased efficiency.
During the meeting, I jotted down the adjustments and complete overhauls we discussed. Steel trap of a mind I am not! I’ve learned my brain does not remember details without a small reminder to nudge it in the right direction. By the end of the meeting, we had delegated out small tasks to everyone. I had a few small jobs but my main role was to piece together all the miscellaneous parts and complete the project. I love doing that.
Too often I get lost in the small, day-to-day duties of my job like answering emails, providing support, fixing problems; and I lose sight of the big picture. I lose sight of the fact that by investing just a few hours a week to oil the wheel, I can make my job a lot easier. All those questions I’m answering? Maybe I should look into if there is a way I can explain things better to avoid questions in the first place. Or if that’s not possible, if I’m getting the same question over and over again, why not create a template answer?
There is something about being more efficient that makes me feel like dusting my hands off, leaning back in my chair, and letting a smile of satisfaction spread across my face. It’s even more satisfying because I can take that time to sit back and enjoy because the project we just wrapped up gave us all a little more time.
And with that time, maybe I can work on Rigel’s patented move!
Stephanie Lee works in Operations at Travel Quest, a host agency out of MN with over 200+ home-based travel agents. She graduated from the College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University with a degree in Environmental Studies/Liberal Studies. She was awarded ASTA Young Professional of the Year in 2008 and was named one of Travel Agent’s “30 under 30” in 2009. She can be reached at Stephanie@TQagents.com, via Google+, or 800.392.6484. For more information on Travel Quest visit www.TQagents.com or www.facebook.com/TQagents
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