“Are you busy?” I hate when someone calls and asks me that right off the bat. If I respond, “Yes”, then I seem unapproachable. But if I respond, “No”, then the next question that comes to many minds is, “Why not? Don’t you have something to do?”

Americans put far too much value in being busy. We want to pack as much in as possible. We do it in our personal lives, and we even do it to our kids. As travel professionals we do it by equating any kind of travel-related work to being successful. I’m sorry, but that’s not the case. If you are new to this industry, it shouldn’t be your goal. Just because you are researching destinations, giving out quotes, and booking lots of trips doesn’t necessarily equate to success. Why? Because there are lots of people doing that, and not really making any money. And doing more of low-paying work is not a sustainable way of building a business.

Of course, sitting around with no clients to serve isn’t the ideal either, but there is a middle ground.

You have to move forward in a thoughtful and strategic way. That kind of insight isn’t going to come to you when you are moving forward at 100 MPH with no time for creating a plan.

It comes when you stop. And listen. And think. That’s when you learn. It’s when you get insights. If there is so much “noise” going on in your life, you won’t be able to hear those insights or ideas. They simply can’t be heard across the chaos.

It is absolutely possible to be super successful in your travel business and still have time to metaphorically (or literally) smell the roses! For some people it takes a lot of practice.

The first step is to recognize that you are valuing “busyness”. Do you speak with pride about how many hours you are working? Do you tell friends, “I’d love to, but I am swamped at work”? Of course, we have all used that as an excuse to get out of something we don’t want to do, but is it a regular habit? Is it true that you can’t do things you want to because you are so “busy”?

Once you recognize that you are doing this, start asking yourself, “Is this the best use of my time?” Really, stop and consider if this is what you want to be doing to build your business. If your goal is to specialize in river cruises and you are working on a quote for a Caribbean All-Inclusive, ask yourself, “why?”. If you just said, “Because it is easy money”, you have just fallen into a trap. Look, you only have so many hours in a day and so much energy. Every moment you spend on that “easy” AI booking is time you cannot spend working on your strategy to build your river cruise business.

It’s not just strategic planning you need time for, it’s learning – but not just about products! There are lots of agents out there with access to communities, consortia, host agencies, and colleagues with lots of great ideas they can learn from, but they are too busy to engage with them.

Don’t be that agent! If you are like the majority of the travel industry, you work from home and are somewhat isolated anyway. Make sure when you have opportunities to learn that you are really engaging.

And here’s a news flash for you: You aren’t as good at multi-tasking as you think you are. When you are “listening” to a webinar and working on a quote, you aren’t really listening. I promise you that you won’t get as much out of it as you could. There might be a really important message in there and you will miss it.

Instead, stop and actually listen to a webinar. Look at the screen and listen to what the speaker is saying. Read the news article. Stop and do some brainstorming about your business. Just take a break and stare out the window. It is all good! You’ll be better in your business because of it.