Even for people who don't suffer from seasonal affective disorder, it's easy to fall into a slump during the cold and dark of winter. The upside of this natural human tendency is that we all feel a surge of energy and excitement as the sun comes out and the temperature starts to rise.
How can you capitalize on this newfound energy and leverage it into real business success come the third quarter? Try these seven tips for taking advantage of spring fever:
1. Spring Cleaning (Part One)
Now that you won't freeze or drown on your way to the dumpster, it's time to open the office windows and clear out all the little corners that accumulated detritus over the winter. This not only includes the obvious trash but that pile of merchandise in the showroom that hasn't sold since last August and also that desk nobody uses because one leg is crooked. Clear it all out so you can focus your energy on the things your business actually needs to be doing.
Getting Things Done author David Allen recommends applying this to your physical files as well. Anything you're not actively using, or storing because the law says you have to, should go through the shredder.
2. Hit a Few Conferences
Late spring and early summer are conference season in most industries, and you plan to attend a few if your budget allows for it. But limit yourself to just one conference for your specific industry. You'll get more results from going to conferences for industries your business serves. As a freelance writer, for example, I get great information from a writer's conference. But I get great clients, who need somebody to write their manuals, brochures and Web copy, at small-business conferences.
3. Spring Cleaning (Part Two)
Your employees probably spend more time in the virtual world than in the physical space your business calls home, which means you need to spring clean your digital office at least as badly as you needed to clean your physical one. Set aside a day this spring to log in and delete unused files, cull email and social media rolls, properly store documents and update software for easier computing through the rest of the year. Bonus points for reinstalling Windows to reset your computer productivity while you're at it.
4. Reach Out
Every Rolodex and contact list has that special section of people you should be in closer contact with but let slide off your radar ... and now, months or even years later, you're afraid that re-establishing contact will be uncomfortable or embarrassing. This spring, find an excuse to make a "Hey! Something reminded me of you" call and make that connection. The worst case scenario—they're not interested—happens to have the identical result to not reaching out at all. All the better scenarios are worth the effort.
5. Check Your Calendar
What's going on this summer in your community, industry and employees' lives that you need to know about and prepare for? Is there a summer festival you could support and get some attention from? Does a team member have a wedding or long vacation coming up that will skew your staffing for a week or two? Get everything on the calendar this quarter so you spend the summer, as this blog post about time management expert Steven Covey's time management quadrants explains, in quadrant one instead of quadrant two.
6. Spring Cleaning (Part Three)
You've cleaned out your office and your computers. Now it's time to clean out your people. In some cases, this means finding the energy vampires, under-performing staff and low profit/high maintenance clients and kicking them to the curb. More often, the best plan is to sit with each member of your team and talk about their goals and role within the company, then tweak things until everybody is doing what they're best at, most inspired by and most excited about.
7. Resolution Redux
You made your New Year's resolutions or beginning-of-year goals just a little more than three months ago. But it's likely the new has worn off and your initial inspiration has faded, leaving you with battered goals that have spent some time bumping up against the realities of life in your business. Take time this month to reassess each goal. Examine how realistic it is, how much energy it's received, and how the people responsible for it feel about the project. Spring clean your to-do list by changing, reassigning or jettisoning goals that no longer serve the purpose for your business.
Follow through with any or all of these seven tips, and you'll find your productivity warming up, just like the weather.
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