Working from home is truly wonderful in so many ways. You get to set your own hours, take breaks for important events, and work during your most productive times of day in whatever clothing is most comfortable for you. Being an independent travel agent is even better. You get to spend your time and make money helping others set up once in a lifetime, amazing adventures and experiences.
There are challenges, though. Without a boss to direct you or coworkers looking on and helping to motivate you, it can be hard to get yourself going, and without anyone to notice, it can be easier to let chaos reign in your home office. This is a dangerous path to go on. A chaotic desk with no system for keeping up with your contacts and information will inevitably lead to lost sales, as well as stress.
If organization is not really your biggest strength, we are here to help. We will share 5 tips to keep you organized so you can maximize performance, sales, time, and peace of mind.
When you work from home, it can be so easy to merge home life and work life. You have to avoid this temptation. Otherwise, you end up feeling you work all the time but never get enough done. Avoid getting distracted by a mess in the kitchen when you are working. Likewise, do not get pulled into work while spending time with your kids. Set down specific work times that coordinate with your life and also take advantage of your most productive hours. If mornings are not a productive time for you, do not try to start working early. Schedule regular breaks to eat a snack, check in with friends, children, and your significant other. It is also beneficial to schedule your work time for the different tasks that need to be done. For example, set aside specific times for marketing, accounting, research, and client contacts.
Can you see your desk? Are you surrounded by piles? It is time to put an end to the madness. Clear away all the piles. Organize your file cabinet. Put up shelves for books, magazines, and even equipment like your printer. The less you have on your desk, the better. If you can keep it to your computer and a lamp, that is perfect. It is nice to have everything close and accessible but not on your desk. Reducing external clutter will free up mental space. It is also wise to do this with computer files. Separate everything into folders for individual suppliers and clients. Add notes about which clients are pleasant to work with and which suppliers really shine with clients. Make master lists for any list you make frequently. For example, if you have an office supply store master list, you can just check off the things you need before you head to the store. Finally, within each client, organize what your commissions will be as you book so that if something seems off when you get paid, you can go back and easily double check.
Now that you have it organized, stay in the habit. You may need to set aside the last 15 minutes of your day to organize computer files, your desk, and your emails. Emails can get way out of hand very quickly. Make a habit of deleting the junk and handling the others as quickly as possible. For communications in progress or emails you may want to access later, put them in folders as well. Likewise, handle your snail mail right away. Sort the junk, and file the bills and important information.
You have to find a system that really works for you. If you really love paper calendars, do not try to make yourself switch to a digital one. One way or another, though, you have to find a way to organize meetings, phone calls, follow ups, etc. It is also critical that you have all travel information for all clients currently traveling accessible at any time. Whether this is a folder with a paper print out that you keep in your car or a google doc you can access from your phone, be prepared when a client calls with a crisis. Taking excellent care of clients will do more for sales than anything. Add time for thank you notes into your calendar. Sending thank you notes to both clients and particularly helpful providers is another great way to strengthen relationships and boost sales.
Keep all marketing materials in an organized folder that you can access from your laptop. You never know when you will come upon a new, potential client. Likewise, keep a folder in your browser favorites with links to agency accounts and prices. Having everything available at a moment's notice will often be the difference in someone booking with you or not.
Getting organized has a number of benefits. Yes, you will almost certainly make more sales, but you will also be more efficient and likely feel more relaxed.