Freelance Friday: Spring Cleaning for Freelancers
May 12th, 2017 by
This blog is part of our Freelance Friday series, where we discuss everything and anything related to freelancing. For more freelance information, tips, and trends, follow us on Twitter.
Spring cleaning is as ubiquitous to this time of year as April showers, May flowers, and allergies. Spring signals revitalization, a chance to refresh yourself and your home. Every year, people around the world pull out the vacuums, dusters, and furniture polish for this annual cleaning spree.
For freelancers who work from home, it can be more than just house cleaning; it is also a great chance provide a much needed therapeutic pause to help rejuvenate your business. In fact, spring cleaning provides the perfect opportunity to clean, organize, update, and refocus your freelancing career.
Here is a comprehensive, three-pronged approach to freelancer spring cleaning:
First things first, clean your home office or workspace—this is still spring cleaning after all.
Declutter Your Desk
Albert Einstein once said, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”
Far be it for me to argue with the one name everyone associates with ‘genius,’ but trying to find something you need amongst the piles of papers, old mail, discarded post-its, empty coffee mugs, and trash is beyond frustrating (and a big waste of time). Rid your desk of the unnecessary, outdated, and anything else that can impede your productivity and creativity.
Deep Clean Your Workspace
While the desk is the heart of productivity, the whole office is your workplace—and hiding in every corner is a pile of clutter filled with distractions. Dust, vacuum, wash the windows, take out the trash—make your office relaxing and inviting so that you can and want to go to work in there.
And don’t just gloss over the surface of things, clean under the chair/sofa, behind cabinets, and on top of bookshelves. Bundle wires and plugs neatly, re-organize the placement of things, and rearrange the furniture for better accessibility. A clean office is a happy (and productive) office—even if your “office” is just a corner of your bedroom or your laptop on the kitchen table.
Decorate for Inspiration
Clearing and cleaning your workspace also affords you the opportunity to add key items in previously underused places, particularly your walls. Bulletin boards, calendars, white boards, and shelves can all add much-needed organization and visibility to your work while optimizing space. If you want to go even further, a fresh paint job or the right artwork can elevate your workspace even higher.
Next, after cleaning your workspace, it is time to tidy up your most valuable piece of equipment as a freelancer—your computer. Just like your desk and office, your computer can accumulate clutter at an alarming rate. Optimizing your computer’s performance can only benefit you in every other aspect of your job.
Declutter Your Desktop
If you have failed to notice the pattern developing here, it is decluttering! Like your physical desktop, your digital desktop is also a magnet for junk—outdated docs, obsolete images, and random folders. Go through them with a fine-toothed comb, combine what is still needed, and purge whatever is now expendable.
There are a few other simple upkeep tasks you can perform, including organizing bookmarks, clearing your cache and history, and making sure your computer, its programs, and your various applications are all fully updated.
Clean Out Your Email
There are two types of people: empty inboxers and crazy people. To each his own, but just because you are one of those people who doesn’t mind seeing your inbox in the thousands, that doesn’t mean you can’t organize your email.
Start by expunging junk and spam, cull your email subscriptions, archive old but important threads, and then delete any no longer relevant mail clogging your inbox (and unnecessarily bogging down your storage capacity). You can also get more organized by setting up filters and creating various folders, tabs, and labels to help you find the right email when you need it.
Back Everything Up
Even if you haven’t personally experienced a computer crash, you’ve likely had a nightmare about it. Though never a good thing, the damage caused can be alleviated by dutifully backing up your files, whether it be with a USB drive, external hard drive, or the cloud. Backups are essential in the digital age.
Virus Scan and Updates
Like backing up your files, running virus/malware scans and updating your computer and apps should be done on a regular basis anyway, but spring cleaning makes for a good reminder. It is crucial for the overall health of your computer to make sure everything is up-to-date to avoid any potential vulnerabilities. You also need to make sure that no malicious files have infiltrated your system via email or websites you have visited.
Now that your workspace and computer are clean, it is time to turn your cleaning attention to your overall freelancing business.
Social Media TLC
Like everything else in your life, your social media profiles need a little TLC occasionally. Make things easier for yourself and attempt to make social media less of a time suck for your freelancing business. Update your profiles; review your Likes/Follows to optimize your feed/timeline; setup lists, groups, circles, etc. to better find what you are looking for; and consider a new photo or bio to go along with any updates you may have about your freelancing career. Also, you may want to look back and delete anything too embarrassing from the past—you never know who is looking.
Freshen up Your Portfolio and Resume
Similar to a resume, your portfolio needs to be regularly updated. Besides updating your personal or contact info, take this time to add in any big projects you have worked on lately, as well as any new services you provide or skills you have acquired. Your portfolio should show the true range of what you have accomplished in the past. Even if you are not looking for additional work at the moment, revising as you go will ensure complete and up-to-date materials for when you do need them.
Reevaluate Your Freelancing Business
Finally, take some time to evaluate your freelance business on a grand scale. Are you satisfied with the work you produce and the money you get paid? Do you want to add more services, styles, or sources? Or drop some? Does communication between you and clients need to improve? Are your taxes and business expenses in order? Are you effectively marketing yourself?
As stated in the beginning, spring signals revitalization, a chance to refresh yourself and your business. Let this inspire to make changes (If necessary) to how you operate. Drop what isn’t working. Seek out new and challenging changes. Make your freelance career work for you, not the other way around.