First, full disclosure. My desk isn’t as tidy as it could be. But in our line of work it can be so hard to keep the clutter to a minimum. Business cards … client files … the brochures you refer to all the time.
But I’m a firm believer that September signals a new start. I figure this is as good a month as any to make new resolutions about having a neater, more professional workspace. Less clutter means less stress – and, I think, a more professional attitude to your career.
Last week I did a major clear-out of my office. I felt so much lighter, everything was refreshed, I could prioritize things better. What a great feeling!
For some insider tips I contacted Kathleen O’Brien, principal of How It Stacks Up, a Canadian professional organizer who has worked with clients as varied as travel advisors and contractors (she once organized a guy’s truck).
“The biggest challenge is having people let go of things that no longer serve them,” she says. “The absolute goal is to have on your desk only what you need now.”
She makes some great suggestions about travel industry-specific challenges …
Keep the current ones to hand in magazine file folders which you can label. Don’t forget to discard the out-of-date ones!
Check out step sorters – like this one from Staples (O’Brien’s fave office supply store because “You can shop at home and they have great sales!”). Labelled with the client’s name (and perhaps departure date and/or destination), current client files will be accessible at a glance.
They do come in handy, but today there are better ways to organize them. O’Brien recommends the Camcard app. Not only will it scan business cards into your phone, but you can add details and store them by your own categories, e.g. Hoteliers; Weekend Getaways; Limo Services, etc.
GIVEAWAYS & PROMOTIONAL ITEMS
Whether they’re your own, or from suppliers, store them in a clear, lidded, plastic box for easy reference and access. And use them! Pass them onto your clients, who may just appreciate such novel little gifts.
“Getting rid of clutter doesn’t only make you more efficient, it actually removes stress and anxiety,” says O’Brien. “I’ve had clients with tears of gratitude in their eyes when they have seen what I have done with their workspace.”
Ready for some de-clutterization? You can reach Kathleen O’Brien, who is in Toronto, through howitstacksup.com. If you are outside Toronto, she is a member of a national professional organizers’ society and is happy to provide referrals across the country.
Lynda Sinclair, CTM, is the Senior Vice-President – Leisure at Vision Travel Solutions, which has an ever-expanding and vibrant program for independent agents. With over 30 years in the Canadian retail travel industry, Lynda says she “lives and breathes what goes on at the front line.” She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.