We all do it, hell I’m as bad as the next person, overhauling everything simply because it’s January the first and that’s what you’re supposed to do right? Well maybe.
So hopefully you had a good Christmas and New Year period. Filled with celebration (drinking), great food and good people (and drinking). But the inevitable happens, the January slump, yes you’ve got to go to work and media is telling you that because it’s January you need to be better, you need to be you but super you, not lowly old stagnant 2016 you. So you stumble forwards with a certain degree of excitement, you’re going to do it, you’re going to be the super organised, super up-to-date person you’ve always meant to be, you were born for this. Well I’m going to tell you stop and think about this. Would you do this if it was May? Probably not. Don’t get caught up in the hype and follow my rules for a better start to your new web design and web development year, in February!
OK so we all know that January is the time for a new start. Less drinking (boo), less eating (double boo) and of course for us freelancers, more organisation, new tools and being more strict with our web design and development process. But January isn’t the right time to go through this, what with catching up with client work after the Christmas break, the inevitable new year client excitement and housework, and by the time you’ve worked through all this, it’s February, so make the most of February, make the most of the fact the evenings are getting lighter, make the most of the elevated mood and sort your damn self out yo!
Do organise your Digital environment
Let’s face it, as the year progresses your carefully honed organisation starts to break down (unless you’re a better man than me, and that’s not particularly hard). Your workstations desktop suddenly contains 90% of the files you were working on. There’s random “New Folder(2)”‘s everywhere and files are from carefully named (DSC100hsmdjsnf87678_1(5).raw anybody?). Use this time to get that in order. Move these files to where you know they belong and name them coherently, you’ll save a ton of time in your day-to-day business and you’ll be well on your way to one less heart palpitation every time you turn on the computer.
Do organise your physical environment
It’s not only your hard disks that need a good dusting. There’s every chance your office does too. Organise your crap, put things away, tidy up damn you! If your workspace is chaotic, there’s every chance your work style is too. Over the year things do become more and more unorganised and messy, use this opportunity to get things in order again. If you need things for your day-to-day workflow, then make sure they’re within easy reach and that you know where they are. Make sure you’ve got all the devices charges to hand, hell, even physically charge those devices, yeah you’ll need to do it again and again but it lends a nice completeness to proceedings.
Just before Christmas I moved my office back in to the garden office from the spare room. I was in the spare room while I was insulating my garden office (trust me, it get’s cold here) and in a fit of “I must get everything back in the office” I just threw it all through the door. Cue January and the above is the scene that greeted me. Don’t let this happen to you! Once I’d got it all under control and sorted out, I felt much better!
Do fix or replace bodged or broken equipment
“Make do and mend” is fair enough but across the curse of the year I bodged back together several items I needed for my design and development workflow. Items that would have been easy enough to fix or replace but I just never really found the time. Make the time. Fixing something properly once is a lot more efficient than fixing something half a dozen times over the course of the year. If in doubt, replace the item.
Don’t overload yourself with new tools
It can be tempting to start learning new tools for a new year. Of course there’s nothing wrong with this. Learning new tools is the fundamental thing that keeps us at the top of our web design and development game. The issue is not with learning new tools, but the amount of new tools you can take on in one lump.
Keep it manageable, keep it sane. I suggest no more than two new tools at once, and spend a few weeks trying them out on personal projects to make sure you’re happy with them and that they fulfill all the requirements you’re looking for before moving them in to your day-to-day workflow. Most importantly, never go with a tool just because it’s the current fad, make sure it’s actually useful to you.
Don’t totally change your methods
I see this a lot. Changing the way you work entirely to suit an idealistic notion that it will make you better and more efficient at your job, is wrong. Plain wrong. In fact, it can be extremely bad for business. The process is the same as for everything we’ve discussed in this post, drip feed new ideas in, refine those ideas until they work better than what they are replacing, slowly phase out old ideas. This will work every time. It’s all non-committal, if it doesn’t work for you, or produces no worthwhile benefit, then simply carry on with your previous methods. No harm, no foul.
This is by no means going to work for everybody. This is simply what I find works well for me.
As with any change to how you operate your own business, it’s really down to personal preference, monitoring those changes and deciding which path is correct to follow.
Hopefully 2017 will be a stonker for everyone, whether you plan a total overhaul of yourself and your business, or not.
Have a good’un x