According to the calendar in my Outlook account it is officially spring - the snow finally melted, the sun came out and I made that seamless transition from cold and flu to seasonal allergies. My disdain for pollen aside, I thought I'd pass along some spring cleaning tips that are perfect for anyone who works as an independent, or at home or just maybe too much. Rest assured you wont need a mop or broom for any of these tasks.
There's a good chance over the past twelve months or so you have accumulated a rather large collection of small papers, receipts, tags, expired coupons, old gum and spare change. Whether you are storing it in a purse, jamming it in your wallet or letting it take up residence in your car's cup holders - now is a perfect time to part ways with it. For some odd reason, much like taking the first scoop of peanut butter, getting rid of all these scraps is oddly refreshing.
From there it's best to take a look at your workspace. Remove all the trash, stray coffee cups or stacks of paper. Maybe even go so far as wiping your desk clean. Organize yourself, then organize your drawers, maybe even feel the wind in your hair and rearrange some furniture. All of these small cleaning steps will help you focus and cut out possible distractions in your workspace caused by clutter.
You've gotten rid of some of the physical clutter, but what about the digital stuff. Can you even see the background of your Mac anymore? Or is it so plagued with stray documents, funny pictures from the Internet and random folders that IT won't go near it? Whether it is a handful of misplaced documents or a zoo of untitled PDFs - now is the time to sort through it all. Unlike your purse or wallet I really wouldn't recommend throwing everything away, but instead try to sort through it or at least label it. There's a good chance most of it can go.
Efforts like these will also help speed your computer up, help it restart easier, and keep it from overheating. With results like that it makes sense the next logical step would be to do the same with your phone. Go through your photos, save the ones you want, send the ones you need to share, and delete the ones of the inside of your pocket. Maybe delete some music or podcasts you no longer listen to, clear out apps you never use and delete old conversations you don't need. Your phone may seem like an endless source of use and entertainment but every phone, regardless of make, model or manufacturer has a limit to what it can hold.
This step is not for the faint of heart or those attached to their beloved data points. If you are really dedicated to a clean slate and a streamlined work environment then you can - dare I say it - organize your inbox.
Many people treat their email inbox like an ancient relic - not to be touch, simply to be looked upon. Well, if you have 4,000 emails lying around, then I've got bad news for you, that's not a relic that's the remains of a once great civilization. Emails are not meant to be permanent and they can slow your computer down. Comb through your emails and delete the obvious junk, outdated invites and old news, then go through with a finer tooth comb and delete anything that has been resolved or is unimportant. Finally, take what is left and organize it.
It may be a terrifying experience for some, but you've got to trust me here - it's for the best.
As an independent consultant it's important to know what exactly soft skills are, why they matter, and how you can improve yours.
News and notes for independent professionals and their clients. This is the September 19, 2016 edition.