i3 | April 16, 2020

Spring Cleaning: Get Your Time and Business in Order

Jake Sigal

Time is the most valuable asset for running a small business. CES allows us to be innovative, test new products and services, and explore ideas. But spring is the time to cut through the clutter and focus again. It’s the best time to review the new things that were tried at CES and to pinpoint what’s going to generate business for the core of the year.

We arrive at the end of the course we take. In mountain biking (and in skiing), we say always look where you want to go, never where you don’t. The same applies in business – it’s never a straight line but it’s time to get on the new line towards success.

Tidy up Meetings

Over the course of the year, my calendar is filled with 30- and 60-minute recurring meetings. These can be a time vampire. While some are internal, many include clients and people outside of the company.

I like to see if any of the weekly meetings can be moved to a bi-weekly or monthly cadence. Also dropping a meeting to 30 minutes can save hours over 12 months. Another good move if possible is to try to bunch the meetings on one or two mornings to free up a steady work block in the afternoon.

My last tip for recurring meetings is to commit to a simple “yes” or “no.” If you really want to keep an eye on meetings that you don’t attend, turn on the option to view declined meetings in your calendar settings.

Kill Zombie Deals

After CES, there’s no shortage of new services, products, ideas, people, markets and other things that are exciting. However, many will not pan out for one reason or another and it’s time to move on. The worst are the zombie deals that won’t die naturally and need the ax.

When going through the storage room in our home, I often debate with my wife about whether it’s time to give certain things to charity. Whenever it’s uncertain – we put a donate date of a year out on a piece of tape. Later, if we haven’t used the item by then, we know it’s time. Zombies in business can be treated the same way.

Sometimes, you just know it’s dead. However, many times in the spring I add a “kill date” to a deal a few months out. This sets a specific timeline and assigns tasks needed for a deal to succeed. It also reminds me to kill it if it doesn’t work out.

Clean Up

Here are a few digital items I clean up annually:

1. Google alerts: Open up the alerts website, delete the ones you haven’t clicked on in the last three months and create new alerts for topics, people and companies that you are tracking this year.

2. To-do lists: Close out existing to-dos or rewrite them so they get done this week.

3. Flagged emails: Close out, forward or just delete them. As a courtesy, before I delete an email or remove a flag, I email the sender, confirming I didn’t do anything and ask if this is still open.

4. CRM deals and tasks: Check out your CRM and look for anything that’s been around for a while without any changes. I like to move deals into a new category in a pipeline for action needed and review with my team to rename, assign new tasks, merge with another deal or delete.

5. Basecamp (project management tools): Besides reviewing my own project list, once a year I go through all tasks that I have assigned to someone else, to clean up the list and close tasks out that don’t have due dates.

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