You wouldn’t know it with all that white stuff lying on the ground, but Spring has sprung in Colorado. Though most people are busy organizing closets or washing windows, Spring cleaning doesn’t only happen around the house.
The changing of the season also indicates the start of a new fiscal year, a good time to take stock of your last year of business, and set yourself up for success over the next 12 months. As freelancers and solopreneurs, we thrive on flying by the seat of our pants, but sometimes that makes for a disorganized style of business–and disorganization always costs time and money.
If you’ve been feeling a little chaotic and claustrophobic lately, here are five spring cleanup tasks that will bring order your desk, work flow, and professional life.
Sort and Delete
How many unused files still live on your hard drive? A final edit, software you tested, or CSS files from an old client? Yes, keeping them for a month after the project completes is normal. Keeping them a year after is not. It’s just digital clutter making it harder for you to access active files (and probably slowing down your machine, too). Take a couple of hours to open these archives and send what you don’t need to the recycling bin.
Pro tip! Store client work in the cloud or sign up for an organizational tool like Doo to keep things better organized in the future.
Update your Portfolio
Was 2012 a busy year? Proud of the work you’ve produced? Then it’s time to update your profile. Remember, portfolios are meant to be beautiful, exciting, and show your diversity as a professional. No matter what type of client you’re pitching, you want to be sure they’ll see the talent they’re looking for among examples of past work. Pro tip! Always make sure to ask client permission to include their project in a portfolio (or build that language into the contract).
Unsubscribe to Junk Mail
Throughout the year we sign up for lots of newsletters and email alerts that we don’t really need. Months later we find ourselves slogging through this same junk mail every morning. Reduce the clutter in your inbox by unsubscribing to any automatic emails that you don’t read or utilize on the regular.
Pro tip! Sometimes purchases or registrations for useful services come with unwanted email. Be sure to uncheck the newseltter/special offer box next time you’re signing up for something online.
For most entrepreneurs, tax time is a gut check. The IRS tells you in no uncertain terms whether you’re making and setting aside enough of your income. Take a few extra minute with your accountant or tax prep professional to ask questions about what you could do differently in the coming year. Maybe you need to up your savings. Or maybe you just need to up your rates. Thing about where you want to be financially next spring, and set the goals now that will help you get there.
Pro tip! Think about making quarterly tax payments this year if you haven’t been doing so already. Your tax professional can help you estimate how much these should be.
Reinvest in You
You spend thousands of hours doing what’s right for your clients, but when’s the last time you did something nice for your professional self? It’s very important for entrepreneurs to keep learning, experimenting, and discovering. Continually challenging yourself with new ideas and tools keeps your mind sharp, and that’s why clients keep coming back! Sign up for a class, attend a workshop, or get a change of scenery. New environments and people are the chisel’s that can help reveal new opportunities and talents hidden within your community.
Pro tip! Sign up for Cohere’s free day pass and come see what it’s like to work in a great space full of great people striving to be the best at what they do.
Image via MarketMeSuite/Flickr