Many of us make vague, general resolutions for our personal lives (I want to be happier, healthier, etc.), but when it comes to my business, I find that very specific, concrete tasks work well for me. Here are the top three on my list of to-dos to kick off the New Year with organized, focused, gusto:
- Clean up my email Inboxes. I have three email accounts. One for business, one for friends and family and personal business, and one I use when I’m forced to enter my email address to gain access to something or other, knowing full well I’m going to get pummeled with spam. With this system in place, you’d think I could keep a handle on it, but I can’t (don’t). I’m actually embarrassed to tell you how many unread emails are waiting for me in my two personal accounts, but I’ll bet I’m not alone. Since I have the “junk mail” account, I won’t lose too much sleep over just pulling the “delete” trigger and clearing it all out to start anew this year. The condition of the personal address email account for friends and family is almost as bad, but at this point I’m ready to say goodbye to all the jokes, chain letters, and links to “thought you’d LOVE this” information that my well-intended friends and family care to share, and start all over. I’m guessing it won’t take long to repopulate – I seem to have an over abundance of jokers in my inner circle. As far as the business email account goes, I’ve got issues to handle there, as well. Even though I generally receive between 150 – 200 emails per day (higher on newsletter days), I usually am able to quickly scan each one and act on the ones that are urgent. If they aren’t urgent but require attention, I throw it in the “Follow Up” folder. The problem is, the “Follow Up” folder that has items in it from the beginning of December. This is not good – for me or the person who needs me to follow up. Google “how to handle email overload” and you’ll get over 6 million results, so I’m guessing I’m not alone in this dilemma. Here’s a link to one of the best articles I’ve found that offers specific action items to get back on track. I particularly like this simple tip: “The productivity guru and “Getting Things Done” author David Allen has a rule of thumb that comes in handy here: If responding is going to take two minutes or less, you’re better off doing it now than procrastinating.” I have a sneaking suspicion that I am not alone in this email hell I’ve created – am I right?
- Clean up my LinkedIn Inboxes. I’ve seen firsthand the power of LinkedIn, in fact, I’m a part of the Healthcare IT industry because of it! Therefore, I value each of the connections that I have, or may have, through LinkedIn, and so feel it’s important to send a personal note to each person who requests a connection. Here’s an article I wrote for Healthcare Informatics giving more specifics on how to do that. The return on this investment of time is well worth it, but sticking to this policy means that the LinkedIn invitations to connect can pile up pretty quickly. This week I plan to get my LinkedIn invitations and messages down to zero, and resolve to do a better job of responding to them weekly. Even if you don’t have the same policy (although I highly recommend it!), judging from the fact that I often receive responses to my LinkedIn queries that start with, “I apologize for taking so long to respond!” I’m confident this is a common problem.
- Update my resume. I have no intention of searching for a new position this year, and you might not, either. So why should we update our resumes? Because you just never know when you might need it! Case in point – I was asked last week to join a very prestigious industry advisory board, and guess what they requested? My resume! Although I list an updated resume as a must for everyone else, like an accountant with bad credit I’ve not done so myself. Shame on me! And don’t think your circumstances warrant an exemption, either – resumes are requested in all sorts of circumstances, most importantly when a recruiter calls you out of the blue with your dream opportunity! And if you are putting off updating your resume because you’d rather jam a stick in your eye than write about yourself, I highly recommend hiring fellow Healthcare IT Today blogger Erin Kennedy to help portray you as the consummate professional you are. (She’s graciously offered a discount to the Healthcare IT Central/Healthcare IT Today community).
Okay, so I’ve got my work cut out for me this week, but I’m psyched to get these things done and out of the way so I can focus on being more productive, organized, and responsive in 2012. How about you? What’s on your to-do list?