Denise Landers

Article Summary:

Organizing your car is simple with these suggestions, and so important to the smooth functioning of your business when travel is involved.

Organizing Your Car as a Travelling Office

"I wish I had ____ with me." You fill in the blank. How many times have you been off-site, meeting with a client, only to discover you were missing a form or a brochure that would have helped you wrap up a discussion?

Whether you are in sales, real estate, consulting or a variety of other jobs, travel is often involved. Even when you spend most of your day in an office, you still have to travel back and forth, often bringing work with you, or you might be meeting a client for lunch, and have that, "I wish I had..." comment running through your mind.

Here are some basics that would benefit everyone.

Front Seat

Calendar: Since everyone is now reachable at any time by cell phone, you would want to have a calendar handy, whether paper or electronic. If you use an electronic calendar but are not syncing with your PDA, then you can periodically print out a monthly calendar and carry that with you.

Notepad: If you have to pull over for an extended talk with a client, you want to make notes on the conversation. Do not count on storing everything in your head for later. Write it down now.

Index Cards: Carry these with you at all times. They can go in your shirt pocket, purse, briefcase, and car. Whenever something comes up that you need to do or want to remember, write it down on an index card. When you get back to the office, staple that to a full sheet of paper and place it in your Daily Action file.

Mileage Log: If you have it close at hand, you will be more likely to remember to record the miles traveled. It is so much harder to do this once a month or to recreate the data at the end of a tax year.

CDs: If you want to make good use of all the travel time, this is an opportunity to listen to recorded business books or to conference break-out sessions. On the other hand, if it is advantageous for you to relax before a meeting or while headed home, pick some music that unwinds you.

To store these materials, you might consider an auto organizer with multiple compartments, one that ties over the headrest and sits against the passenger seat. It provides easy access. When you have a passenger, you simply move it around so that it hangs in back of the seat, still within reach.

Have a zippered plastic case for extra pens, pencils, and other basic desk supplies. You do not want all of these to be loose in case of sudden stops where they could become flying projectiles.

Back Seat

Casual Reading: Have a folder of materials handy to grab any time you have unplanned open time - stopped traffic or arriving early for an appointment. It will allow you to effectively utilize your time while you wait, and in turn will lower the potential stress caused by the delay.

Map Book: Even if you have a GPS system, it is a good idea to have a backup for emergencies.

Umbrella: Do not leave this in your trunk. It does not cover you when there is a sudden downpour while you are heading into a meeting.

Trunk

Forms and Brochures: Use a small travel box or crate that holds hanging file folders. That way you can keep a supply in the car without having to guess what you may need every time you head out.

Product Samples: Get plastic bins that can contain your products. When you have them organized in containers, it leaves more room in your trunk.

Grippers: These pieces cling to your trunk carpeting and keep things from sliding around. Place them strategically at the corners of your containers.

If you use something up while you are out, make a note on an index card so you will remember to replenish that item when you get back.

Returning to your office, be sure to take out all of the new materials-order forms, business cards, conference bags, ToDo index cards - and bring them in right away. Replenish anything that you have used up. This will ensure that you always have what you need at hand, and your car does not become a clutter trap.

Your car is a reflection of you and your methods. If you find yourself embarrassed or apologizing when someone unexpectedly has to ride with you, make changes today. The preparation will add to your confidence as you head out to your next meeting knowing that you have what you need. You are in control and you look the part.

Denise Landers, productivity trainer, organizing specialist, author of Destination: Organization and owner of Key Organization Systems, Inc. has spent years speaking, training, consulting, and coaching on the topics of time management and effective workflow. To find easy ways to prioritize, focus and improve your team productivity, subscribe for free monthly articles on time management and organizing topics at: Keyorganization.com.

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