I feel the same when I log onto my computer to start work and need to negotiate all the clutter and freshen up my screens in order to be able to focus on a new season’s hard work to come.
I have been working hard recently on understanding what I can and can’t afford to ignore, both on and off-line, and with varying degrees of success. By the time I have been able to focus and concentrate, having negotiated a lot of accumulated online distractions, I find my working time is just about done – inevitably with less accomplished than I had planned.
So why not join me in an online spring clean with the intent to ignore, to focus, and to spring forwards? Some of these may take some time to be fully effective, but it is time well worth spending if it speeds up your productivity later. Here are some main areas you should look at:
- Desktop clutter. Spend some time organising your files on your computer, drop them into a logical and accessible file structure where you can reach them easily when needed. Delete or archive files and folders that you no longer use, leaving the files you do need more obviously available. Check out your downloads folder as this is where a lot of outdated information (or useful forgotten nuggests) can lie.
- Back up your computer once this is done. Yes, now, before it is too late – don’t be vulnerable to losing that valuable content that you have decided to keep.
- Check out the apps on your smartphone – I had quite the collection of old and unused apps that again just clutter up the phone and make it harder to find the apps you do want. Update to the latest versions of the apps you use, and spend a little time checking out if there is anything else out there that you would find of interest to your current life that you may want to add – without of course replicating the reason you are sorting them out in the first place!
- Email is the greatest time suck that I have, and the majority of that email relates to offers, emails, information – even if you don’t read the emails they still have the potential to distract and divert your attention from whatever you should be focused on. Make the time to review the information in your inbox, keep only what is actually of use to you and make sure any email lists you signed up for remain of relevance to your current focus.
- Outside of promotional emails, your inbox might be home to lots of old and outdated mails which you were planning to action or to read at some point. Hoarding email and seeing all that clutter each time you log in can be really disheartening, so be ruthless and clean out non-essential items that again don’t relate to where you and your business are now or where you are planning to go.
- While you are in your email, take a quick look at your email signature files – are they still telling people what you want them to know – this is a great area to promote your latest offerings, social and web presence – but it can also go out of date or off-focus. Making sure this is up-to-date will reflect well on you and be well-received with your emails.
- How do you use bookmarks in your browser? I usually start with a system that categorises them and makes articles simple to find when following up, but sometimes in a hurry this system falls down and before I know it I have a long list of uncategorised bookmarks that are of little value. Spend a little time with the focus on deleting irrelevant bookmarks, clearing out what isn’t needed, and it will be easier to keep to a simple system in the future
- If you have a website or blog or both, take some time to review them as dispassionately as you can – do they represent what you want them to and are they working hard enough for you in what you are trying to achieve. This should be part of a regular review cycle, but breaking out with some of that spring energy and looking at them from a prospect’s or client’s view may prompt some additional new ideas.
- If you have a Twitter account, refresh your personal information – add a new photo, update your biography, trim your favourites and review the list of apps that have access to your account, revoking permissions where you are no longer using an app. Delete any direct messages that are no longer relevant. If you don’t do so on a regular basis, you may want to change your access password too.
- On Facebook, check your privacy settings, and again revoke access for any apps you are no longer using. If you have a page on Facebook, refresh your information and review how your posts are doing to encourage engagement. Changing your access password, as with Twitter, on a regular basis is also good practice.
- On LinkedIn you should review the groups you belong to and whether they are adding value to you, company pages you follow and the amount of emails you receive from LinkedIn on a regular basis. While you are there, update your profile information and see if there are new connections you should be making from recent work, recommendations to request or make – a refresh of all this will keep your account alive and lead to increased activity on your account. If you have a company page then reflect on whether it is working hard enough to support your current objectives or if there are changes you could make.
- If you are active on Google+, review the people in your circles and who you are interacting with on a regular basis; clean your stream of people you no longer feel are relevant to your current or planned focus. Check out the communities that are on the increase and see which ones might be of interest to you and join them. Review your company page if you have one and make sure it is up-to-date.
- Outside of the main social networks listed above you may be active on many others; now is a good time to review how well your time is spent on each and if they are yielding any results for you – it may be better to reign in and focus on doing some of the social media sites well rather than trying to span them all with a limited amount of time.
What is your approach to an online spring clean? Does this sunshine motivate you into making changes across your life and work or does it have you hiding behind the sofa so you don’t see the dirt so much (if so, bad place to hide!). I would love to hear how you approach keeping your digital life orderly and effective, leave your tips and tricks in the comments below.