What will you end so you can begin?
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 essay is incredibly busy, but as we enter the final days of the final week of 2017–a time when you or everyone around you is on vacation–this is the perfect time to prune and to adopt some processes so you can hit the ground running next week.
Most of this post is about simplifying your life or building stronger relationships as you enter 2018. There’s no time like today to get started.
- Unsubscribe ruthlessly. Go into your Outlook and sort by From. There will be newsletters you found valuable once but no longer open. Unsubscribe quickly from the ones you don’t read. If you have lots of Unread messages, click that category first. Then think about creating folders for newsletters you want to keep and file older ones there.
- Delete. Start with emails (minding your company’s Document Disposal rules). 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? 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/them. Clean 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 habit. Look at your review and identify an area identified as an “Opportunity,” and start working to fix that. If your manager didn’t identify an opportunity formally (or you don’t have a manager), ask someone where you could improve. For me, a new habit is blocking out time on my Outlook calendar for deliverables and color-coding by project or category. Life happens, and events will move, but I’m finding this a great way to prioritize what I really want/need to get done. It may also help you realize when you’re most productive, which will be a scheduling boon. Put your new habit on Outlook as a weekly (or even a daily) appointment so it becomes more than a one-off.
- Buy a box of decent Thank-You stationery and a book of stamps. Write your notes, but be specific. Avoid using email 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 email folder. And print them out. There will come a time when you’re at a low point and pulling those out will give you an incredible lift. It 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.
- Get to know someone better. Over coffee or a meal, ask how you can help them be more successful. Ask about their goals for 2018, and then ask which ones will be the most challenging. 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 people. It’s important to be a creator but you also want to be seen as a connector. Go through your LinkedIn network and introduce people 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, 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 customer letters to see if they align with your brand message.
What about you? What will you be doing over the next few days to get off to a terrific start in 2018?
Peter Osborne is principal of Friction-Free Communications. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org