We're just over a week into both spring and the Daylight Savings time change. I don't know about you, but more sunshine equals more productivity for me. Though I am the pale, freckled, poster child for skin cancer, I always feel a little bit like Superman in that my powers are directly tied to the sun. I tend to find renewed energy and deeper concentration when winter days give way to spring ones.
And I love a good spring cleaning! Is that weird? I just can't focus amongst clutter. I need a neat and tidy workspace, car and home to function well. So, this past week, I began the process of ship-shaping those three areas.
Today, I want to help guide you what spring cleaning your marketing and communications might look like. And maybe dust off those New Year's Resolutions (or goals) too. It's time for a fresh start!
SPRING CLEAN YOUR WORKSPACE
While it's true that there are a unique few who can thrive in chaos and actually know what is located in the heaps and piles on or around their desk, I don't think that's true for the majority of us. I think most of us get stressed out and distracted by those things, and it compromises our brain power, and therefore our work, by not dealing with it.
ACTION STEP: Over the next week, take the time to do some thorough sorting, sifting, recycling, tossing and sharing. Yes, I know you don't have time. But you need to sacrifice a few hours for the clarity it will bring you after its done. Whether you have a small desk in your guest room, a corner of the dining room table, or the corner office in the high rise, your productivity will increase by eliminating these distractions.
SPRING CLEAN YOUR COMPUTER
While it's true that I don't like physical clutter, I am a serial saver—at least as far as online articles are concerned anyway. I've mentioned before on this blog that I love learning. And it takes no more than a few minutes on social media, reading through emails, or scanning messages in Facebook groups to have a dozen or so windows opened with things I want to read or go back to later. I'm also bad about downloading resources to my desktop and saving them there with the intention of going back "soon" to read them. Pretty soon my computer desktop is a mess, my email is overflowing, and I can't shut down my computer for days at a time because I need to keep all the tabs open. Anyone relate?
ACTION STEP: Decide how important things things are to you and make a plan to tackle them this week. I did this last Friday. I was sick and didn't have a lot of brain power for creating and problem-solving, so I focused on this project. It took a few hours, but my computer desktop is clean, my email is manageable, and I shut down my computer over the weekend. It's a great feeling! And guess what, I learned a few new things in the process!
If you just don't have the time, or know the piles will only get larger, then give yourself a break and start deleting, knowing that new information will soon come your way. If you do decide to sort it out, then start getting excited about the new information you're about to digest. Grab some coffee, an easy chair, your laptop, and enjoy the process. I found some new resources to share with my Facebook group, learned a few tricks from fellow entrepreneurs and watched two webinars for upcoming personal projects. I also did a fair amount of deleting. Whichever path you take, deleting or sorting, find the determination to just do it.
SPRING CLEAN YOUR MINDSET
This is admittedly the hardest. The previous two categories require cleaning out "stuff" which I think is a lot easier, or at least it is for me. You can also see the changes much faster. Now we are moving onto the real work. Remember I mentioned those pesky New Year's Resolutions/Goals in the beginning? Here's where we tackle those.
I am a very goal-driven, task-oriented person. And with this being my first full year in business, I had a lot of things I wanted to do. One of those was developing my first online course during the first quarter of 2017. Now if you mosey on over to that section on my website, you'll still find "Coming Soon!" as we head into quarter two. That is just one example, but I assure you, there are others. Now, I did hit one goal, which was to attend more human trafficking events this year. I've actually already made it to two. But for every goal I hit, there is at least one I didn't. Know the feeling?
It's easy to get stuck in the headspace that tells you that you're behind, failing, or never gonna make it happen. But I'm asking you not to. I have to ask this of myself regularly. And because you're working for a cause, it's hard not to feel the pressure of things left undone. Everything is important. But these are the times we have to stop, reflect and reevaluate.
ACTION STEP: I'm going to give you two weeks for this assignment because it's more difficult, though, actually, it may take the least physical amount of time. In fact, if you get down to business, you might be able to do this homework in about an hour. But I think you need to walk around with the question in your mind, letting it occupy the back of your brain, for a few days or even a week.
Then sit down and reevaluate your marketing and communication priorities for 2017. What were your goals back in January? How do they need to shift? Maybe timelines need to be extended. Maybe projects need to be put on hold. Maybe they need to move to 2018. Maybe they just need to be scrapped. That's all okay.
First, determine your big priorities for the year. It's quite possible they've changed in the past three months. Then, assess the resolutions or goals you made and figure out which bucket they should fit in. Finally, feel good knowing that you've made some progress. After all, reevaluation is still progress. It's going to help you move forward for the next nine months.
Okay, so you've cleaned your physical space, your digital space and your mental space—or you will very soon. It should feel amazing! It should give you clarity. It should bring a big smile to your face. You've just done some really powerful things.
By tackling these three categories, you've just set yourself up for success in your marketing and communications for the rest of the year. You'll be better prepared, focused and productive.
We all get so hyped up come January. We're ready to take on the world! But life happens, work happens and we quickly realize that we didn't have a lot of control anyway. It's easy to get discouraged. That's why this spring cleaning is essential.
A New Year takes a little getting used to. I mean, hello, is anyone else still writing 2016 on everything?!?! So, when you take the time to stop, reflect and reevaluate your current efforts, you can make the shifts necessary to lift the fog, get out of the funk, and tackle that To Do list.
Oh, and once you've done your homework, don't think you're off the hook! The next step is to set a date on your calendar three months from now. The year will be half over, and it'll be time for a good summer cleaning!
Have you done anything else to spring clean your marketing and communications? If so, please tell me!
Need some help with your reevaluation? Contact me for a Communications Strategy Session. I'd love to get you on, or back on, the right track.
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I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.