In the 1994 blockbuster Ace Ventura, Pet Detective (1994? Really? It was that long ago? Holy…), the title character played brilliantly by Jim Carrey, attends a party and becomes involved in a bathroom incident where the toilet spews water all over the place. Exiting the bathroom, he tells onlookers who are shocked at his thoroughly soaked appearace, “Do NOT go in there!” I think about that scene almost every time I see my desk piled high with work to be done, and the rest of my office scattered with this and that and no real order to it all.
It’s said that a person’s desk echoes their mental thoughts – it’s hard to be productive and organized when your desk and office look like a maelstrom came into town, hit the local Staples, and made a beeline right for you. Thankfully, there are ways you can de-clutter your office space and restore order once again….at least until the next time things get all out of whack!
Computer: If you’re still using a desktop PC, consider switching to a laptop. They take up less space and use less energy. Also, invest in a wireless mouse and keyboard – they eliminate pesky wires and are more maneuverable. Invest in a wireless printer too, if you haven’t already – same thing there: eliminates a lot of wiring and makes it easier to locate the printer, rather than being limited to the length of the cords.
Fax Machine: Still have a fax machine? It’s probably a good size, too. Many online services provide fax-to-email services, usually for cheaper than you’re paying for the fax line, toner, and paper for the fax machine.
Eliminate Paper: Remove your address from junk mail lists with the Mail Preference Service from the Direct Marketing Association (www.dmachoice.org). Yes, businesses get on junk mail lists, too! You can even stop phone book delivery with YellowPagesOptOut.com. Don’t forget that dry-erase boards and bulletin boards are excellent tools to help keep your desk from getting cluttered with thousands of Post-It notes!
Organize it: Unfortunately, you can’t get rid of ALL the paper, so develop a system to organize it. Sort incoming mail – keep it simple and sort by what needs action, what needs filed, what can be recycled, and what needs shredding. Keep the files to a minimum, too – go virtual whenever you can by scanning documents into the computer and saving the files on CDs or on an external hard drive.
Shelves: Shelves have a tendency to collect things (other than dust!) over time. Keep relevant books on hand – do you REALLY need the 2001 edition of CLIA’s Cruise Manual? Recycle old books if you can. If you’re a magazine collector, store them in plastic totes off the shelf, keeping the space for current material.
De-cluttering an office is not an easy job, and may not be possible to do in one hour, or even one day! But, having order and knowing where things are can really improve your operations, giving you more time to work on trip proposals and wow your clients!
Steve Cousino, ACC, CTA, LS is a six-year industry veteran and owner of Exclusive Events At Sea and Journeys By Steve with specializations in group cruising, individual ocean & river cruising, and personalized experiences in Europe, especially the British Isles. He can be reached at email@example.com.