Spring cleaning has come and gone, and your home may (or may not) be a bit tidier because of it. But what about your career? What business dust bunnies and everything drawers have you been neglecting?
Every career could use a good decluttering now and then. Here are some of the major areas to focus on when clearing out the cobwebs:
1. Clean up your social media profiles
You’re all smart cookies, so I (hopefully) don’t need to remind you to keep your Twitter and Facebook profiles squeaky clean (or set on private) to avoid potential professional embarrassments. But keeping your social media presence tidy is about more than just removing those happy hour pics from your public feed; it’s also about making sure your information is current and relevant.
- Review your LinkedIn profile to make sure you haven’t acquired any new positions or skills that should be added—and that there isn’t any outdated information that needs to be removed.
- Have you made any new business acquaintances lately? Make sure you’ve hooked up with them via LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, etc. Social media is a great networking tool, so make sure your network isn’t missing anyone important.
- Make sure your profile pics are professional—and consistent. A big part of personal branding is being easily recognizable across all social platforms. Pick a photo that’s classy but also shows your personality, then use it for all of your profiles. Attaching it to your main email via Gravatar will allow that pic to show up whenever you comment on sites or forums as well.
2. Refresh your resume
Even if you’re not actively looking for a job right now, you could be in the future, and it’s a pain to go through a five-year-old resume and revamp everything in one sitting. So, periodically review your resume to make sure the information is up-to-date. If your dream job suddenly asks you to apply, would you be ready for it?
- If you have a strong online presence (a website, blog, portfolio, etc.), consider adding hyperlinks to your resume so employers can check out more on you without your having to include a ton of information on the resume itself. (Short and sweet is best.)
- Clean up the organizational scheme to make it easier to read. That font explosion you thought was a nifty way to organize isn’t. Bullets, white space and simplicity are in.
- Make sure your references are up-to-date. A quick check-in email to touch base with them (and remind them who you are) doesn’t hurt.
3. Streamline your systems
Making your days easier and more productive will make you a more valuable employee—and give you more energy and time to focus on your overarching career goals.
- Keep on top of the latest in to-do apps, sites and other technological tools that can make everything from project management to scheduling infinitely easier.
- Remember the 80/20 rule: 80 percent of your key results come from only 20 percent of your regular tasks. So focus on that 20 percent and weed out some of the rest.
- Learn when your most productive times of day are, and try to structure your projects accordingly. Energy management works wonders by tapping into your natural rhythms and using them to the fullest.
- For the love of everything, get an email system in place. Email overload is one of the biggest causes of workday overwhelm, and it doesn’t have to be. Tame the beast by instituting a system that gets you as close to inbox zero on a regular basis as possible—and then stick with it.
4. Spiff up your workspace
Whether you work from home or from a cube, your physical space plays an important role in how efficient you are and what kind of mood you’re in. If you have a workspace that’s organized, open and inviting, you’ll start off each day on a better foot.
- Catch up on that filing pile—then make a note on your calendar to tackle it every week from this point forward. I know, it’s ridiculously un-fun, but hunting through a towering pile of receipts for that one disbursement you need from two months ago is even un-funner.
- Invest in comfortable furniture and accessories. Aches, pains and repetitive stress injuries never helped anyone work better. Make sure your chair and desk height promote healthy posture, and if they don’t, invest in either a new chair or accessories like a footrest or backrest. Spring for a nice ergonomic keyboard and mouse. Make sure that lighting is bright enough to keep you focused, but not so bright it induces migraines.
- Make it yours. Whether it’s pictures of loved ones, quirky accessories or a miniature Zen rock garden to keep stress at bay, make sure the place where you spend most of your waking hours is a reflection of the things that make you happy and keep you sane.
5. Touch base with your network
Your network is only as valuable as the time you put into it. Just as your Facebook account needs a good “un-friending” sweep every year or so, go through your network and make sure you’re regularly keeping in touch with the people you hope will someday assist your career. If you only reach out to your network when you need something, they’re not likely to be horribly receptive.
- Send out a quick email with some updates on what you’ve been up to, and ask about what’s been going on at their end. Keep it friendly, breezy and non-salesy.
- Arrange for a coffee chat to catch up. (Coffee’s on you, of course.)
- Make a note on your calendar to re-connect after a set amount of time to keep the relationship fresh.
6. Review and reevaluate your goals
In the grand scheme of your career game plan, how are you doing? Are you where you thought you’d be five years ago? Are you taking the steps you need to get to where you want to be five years from now? What steps are those?
It’s easy to get caught up in the daily minutiae of just getting your job done, but don’t forget to tend to your long-term goals, too.
If you’re not where you want to be, figure out some action steps you can take to change that, and mark them down on your to-do list along with your regular daily projects. If you are, brainstorm ways to keep that momentum going, and set deadlines for those steps. In the end, the most organized career in the world won’t do much for you if you’re not heading in the right direction.
Kelly Gurnett is Assistant Editor of Brazen Life and runs the blog Cordelia Calls It Quits, where she documents her attempts to rid her life of the things that don’t matter and focus more on the things that do. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook and hire her services as a blogger extraordinaire here.