What will you end so you can begin something new? It’s a great question that Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose asked in the finale of their terrific podcast, This Old Marketing. Everyone reading this is incredibly “busy,” but as we enter the final week of 2017 – a week when you or everyone around you is on vacation – this is the perfect time to take a hard look at your inbox and computer files, do some streamlining, and put some processes in place so you can hit the ground running next week.
- Unsubscribe ruthlessly. Go into your Outlook and sort by From. There WILL be newsletters you found valuable at one point but no longer open. Unsubscribe from the ones you don’t read or click out of pretty quickly. If you’re one of those people with lots of Unread messages, click that category first. Then think about creating folders for the ones you want to keep and dump the older ones there. You may be surprised at how much easier it is to navigate your inbox if you do a good job of streamlining here. One other tip: I created a separate e-mail account for these kinds of things, so I have three (job search, consulting, and “stuff.”).
- Delete. Start with the e-mails (within your company’s Document Disposal rules around that process). Consider keeping only the last message in a string (and the one-offs where you were the only recipient). Then move on to files. Do you really need to keep Versions 1-14 of an effort to build a presentation (the answer there is “maybe” if you created something you loved that ultimately landed on the cutting-room floor). Pull that slide or slides out of the presentation and stash it somewhere for future use. Clean off your desktop. Create sub-folders to make things easier to find without the Search function. Be ruthless (yes, there’s that word again).
- Build a new habit. Look at your Year-End Appraisal and identify an area that was identified as an “Opportunity.” Start working to fix that. If your manager didn’t do that in writing or in your meeting (or you don’t have a manager), ask someone else where you could improve. I’m now blocking out time on my Outlook calendar for deliverables and color-coding by project or category. Life happens, and stuff will move around. But I’m finding this a great way to prioritize the things I really want/need to get done. It may also help you realize when you’re most productive, which will help with scheduling. Put your new habit in Outlook as a weekly (or even a daily) appointment so it becomes more than a one-off.
- Buy a box of decent Thank You stationary and a book of stamps. Write some gratitude notes and be specific. No, don’t use e-mail for this. Think about how you’ve felt in the past when someone wrote you a short, thoughtful note. Make this a habit too.
- Put all the thank-you notes and praise that YOU’VE received into an e-mail folder. And print them out. There will come a time when you’re at a low point and they will give you an incredible lift. They will also remind you who might be your “friend” when you need to make a business case for something that’s important to you.
- Make a list of all the things you hate to do. Then focus on doing one of those things every day (or at least every week. Put that on your calendar too. I will be optimizing my use of my Premium account on Evernote. I’ll be streamlining my Notebooks this week and committing to regularly stashing interesting articles there (and then using them to be more effective).
- Get to know someone a bit better. Over coffee or a meal, ask how you can help them be more successful. Ask about their goals for 2018. Then ask which ones will be the most challenging to achieve. It may help you rethink how you ask them for support or at least enable you to put their challenges into perspective. In a related idea…
- Introduce two people to each other. It’s important to be a creator but you also want to be seen as a Connector. Introduce a few people in your LinkedIn network to each other. If you know someone who’s out of work or looking for work (and yes, those may be two different things), introduce them to someone who might be able to help.
- Read a book this week, business or otherwise. Get a fresh perspective on a problem you may be having. Take notes. Get around to reading something someone else recommended and then if you like it, call that person and say thanks.
Bonus idea: Take time during this slow week and pull some customer letters to see if they align with your brand message.
Most of this post is about simplifying (or streamlining) your life or building stronger relationships as you enter 2018. There’s no time like today to get started. And if you’re reading this after the New Year, there’s nothing to stop you from doing these things.
What about you? What will you be doing over the next few weeks to get 2018 off to a terrific start?