You’ve had that feeling – you enter the office, sit down at your desk, and (if your desk is anything like mine) eyeball the small, organized piles of work to be done. Clients to respond to with quotes; clients to follow up with; travel documents to verify and deliver; research to be done on the next requests in the pipeline. Each pile is a good size and you tackle it, all the while the phone is ringing and emails are coming in from new and current clients, interrupting your work through the day.
When the clock finally runs out, you smile satisfyingly at the ‘completed’ files that need to be put away, but then your eyes find the piles of work yet to be done and it doesn’t seem like you have even made a dent in your workload. At times, it seems like you have even MORE to complete than you did when the work day started!
For some of us, the overwhelming amount of work that needs to be done, especially if you’re a one-man (or one-woman) shop is enough to cause anxiety attacks. Feelings of lethargy – lack of caring that Mrs. Jones still hasn’t gotten that quote for the trip to Barcelona. Indifference that the client profiles in your CRM are so out of date, they’re pretty useless. You begin to avoid the office as much as possible, only going in to respond to clients who inquire, rather than being proactive. It’s a problem – one that can affect you mentally and physically and cause your business to go down the tubes, causing even more issues.
So how do you combat those feelings of ennui and anxiety? The first step is to take a step back. Get out of the office somehow – take some time to enjoy nature in the park, visit with a friend at a coffee shop, or even get out of town for a weekend. Separate yourself from the office and the work that needs to be done, and do so on a periodic basis. We’re our own worst clients when it comes to taking time off – just like we tell clients that having that re-charge time is necessary, it applies to us, too, even if it’s something as simple as going to the movie theater or as complex as a full blown vacation half a world away.
Next, when you’re facing the workload and it seems insurmountable, break it down to bite-sized pieces. Organize your files into different piles according to what tasks need to be done: research, quote callback and quote follow-up. Tackle each pile one at a time, until they’re complete or at a level you can handle better. Another way to organize piles is by priority: what NEEDS to be done today, what can wait until tomorrow, and what can wait until after that.
Another tactic is to designate certain days of the week for certain tasks. For instance, handle client callbacks on Thursdays. This may not work for everyone or every request but when the workload is overwhelming it can be a great way to manage it until it reduces to a more sane level.
Last, but not least, know you’re not alone. We all have moments in which things are so busy we feel like we’re drowning in paperwork and we can’t see the end of it. Reach out to a travel industry friend – vent, cry, get it out of your system with someone who understands where you are and can encourage you to pick yourself up, dry the tears, find a starting point and climb the mountain.
Steve Cousino, ACC, CTA, LS is a six-year industry veteran and owner of Exclusive Events At Sea and Journeys By Steve, based in Springfield, MO. In addition to producing special events on board cruise ships, he specializes in escorted tours of Europe and the Holy Land and culinary-themed travel. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit his websites at http://www.JourneysBySteve.com and http://www.ExclusiveEventsAtSea.com.