Fall Freshen-up


DOES YOUR WORK-FLOW NEED A REFRESHER?

Your business needs periodic seasonal refreshing. A check-in with yourself to see if what you are doing and how you are doing it still serves you fully.

Is Your Workflow Still Working?

  • Is your desktop a cluttered mess?
  • Is your computer and mobile wallpapers hidden by too many icons?
  • Is filing and data entry piling up?
  • Is your phone or tablet out of space?
  • Do you feel overwhelmed, overworked, and just “over it”?

Help is here! The Fall Freshen-up will help you solve all of those frustrations.

The fall weather makes me think of the end of the year and everything I still need to accomplish.

It also makes me think of my favorite holiday, New Year’s Day (less than 90 days to go). New Years is about fresh starts, new beginnings, and clean slates. Every fall, I have a ritual to create a fresh start for my business systems. I remove or replace outdated software, apps, and paper tools. I catch up on missed filing or data entry I’ve been meaning to get to. I set up the filing systems for the upcoming year. All in all, I want the current year as wrapped up as possible and the New Year ready to go before Thanksgiving dinner. Once that is done, it is time to celebrate the holiday season with friends and family, not stress over all of the things you still have to do. I know people who spend their holidays working long hours trying to catchup and are still unprepared when January “surprises” them.

If you would like a more relaxed holiday season and a more prepared 2016, incorporate the Fall Freshen-up into your schedule.

Fall Freshen-up is recommended for 3 reasons:

  1. You already need to ensure your financial records are clean and up to date to prep for taxes. If you are looking at your financial files, you might as well clean up the remaining files as well.
  2. Most US businesses run a January to December fiscal calendar, so January 1 is the natural time to implement new goals, systems, and measurements.
  3. When you have clean, well-running systems, your stress is reduced and you feel like you can handle anything. This is precisely the attitude with which to enter the New Year.

Unused or outdated systems make our daily routine more difficult. Which email app do I use? Where did I store that to do item? Did I capture that person’s contact information that I met yesterday? How do I do that monthly process? The more we have to think about our systems, the less they work as intended.

In order to begin your Fall Freshen-up, ask yourself the following four questions as relates to your professional self.

1. Has your business changed (grew, changed focus, added locations, moved)?

  • You might need New Strategy, New Tools, New Systems, New Marketing

2. What tasks can you streamline or stop doing?

  • Workflow, tools, and apps will probably need to change

3. What tools, systems, and paper can you reduce, streamline, or replace?

  • Use the next question to help guide you on the types of tools you like to use.

4. What worked well for you in this past year? What did you struggle with?

  • Why were your successful systems successful?
  • What made the more challenging systems difficult?

I have discovered with my clients that mobile applications tend to need the most cleanup. As a society, we have become more dependent on our smartphones and tablets; transferring more and more of our lives into them. The result is we tend to download a number of apps hoping this one will be the magic pill of uber-organization. Sadly, no such magic pill exists.

Your strategy, like mine, might be a combination of digital and analog tools. There is no right answer to this! The only requirement is the tool works for you.

Review everything you have downloaded. Scrutinize each app. Is it still working for you? Do you like it? Where does it fit in the list below? Get rid of what is not working or you don’t love.

Below is a list of categories that you need a tool for (digital or analog). What are you using for each function?

1.) Processing communication

  • Phone notes / voice mails
  • Email (respond, file, do)
  • In person (meetings, communication logs)

2.) Calendar Management

  • Appointments

3.) Remember and Do Tasks

  • Project Management
  • Task Management
  • Weekly and Monthly Repeat Tasks

4.) “Paper” Management (stored in paper form or digitally)

  • Client files
  • Bills
  • Receipts
  • Mail processing

5.) Knowledge Management

How do you stay up to date in your industry?

  • RSS, Books, Magazines, Conferences, Newsletters, etc.
  • The sources as well as the knowledge gained and action items need to be tracked.

6.) Running Your Business

What do you need to do what you do?

  • Spreadsheets
  • Drawing programs
  • Word processing
  • Accounting software
  • Databases, etc

7.) Marketing and Advertising

  • Online (Internet or Social Media Marketing):
  • Plan, Research, Write, Post, Read, Engage, Measure
  • Offline
  • Plan, Execute, Measure, Follow up

8.) Customer Management

  • Leads
  • Customers
  • Ex-customers
  • Contacts (potential referral sources)

9.) Entertainment

  • Life can’t be all work.

So, what tools do I recommend? This is a bit like asking, “What type of vehicle should I buy?” It depends on if you need 4wd to get up snowy mountain passes or back to your favorite campsite or if you mostly drive around the city and fuel economy is your most important criteria. Do you need lots of space for team members and gear? There is no one size fits all. If there was, car buying would be a cinch.

My tools will be different than yours.

I provide online and offline business coaching and resources. I also teach in-person for two colleges (workshops and credit courses). I am on the board of a, soon to be, non-profit women’s knowledge sharing group for artists, entrepreneurs, and other businesswomen. I travel semi-frequently including a month-long working vacation every summer. Consequently, I “office” from several different physical locations and have several different sets of priorities to keep straight.

If you are interested in the specifics of what I use to stay sane and productive, I wrote a blog post on that here.

The more important question is what will help you stay sane and productive?

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