Spring is here, and with the promise of warmer weather and budding flowers comes the inevitable realization that your work environment may need to get freshened up.

No need to grab the dry mop and sanitizing wipes.  I’m talking more along the lines of taking inventory of the online tools you are currently using to keep your small business purring and evaluating whether they are still working for you or if it’s time to make a change.

By now, I’m sure you’ve signed up for countless free and fremium web-based tools, promising to keep you on task, generate invoices, queue up your social media, and measure your web traffic.  But what are you actually using and what’s still working for you?

Spring cleaning isn’t just for mopping:  It’s also a time to check in with your small business and ensure that you have the right tools for the job and are not paying for products and services that you don’t even use.

 

Are you taking the quickest route to your go-to tools?

I have my Google Chrome set to automatically open the following pages of my go-to tools:  Gmail, Google Calendar, Toggl, and Facebook.  Take a look at what tabs you have open now.  Are they representative of the places you most frequent on the internet that benefit your small business?  Do you have your browser set up to easily and quickly route you to the tools that you need to frequent?

Perhaps you highly frequent online networking groups to talk shop and potentially reach new customers.  Consider making web shortcuts on your browser’s bookmark bar or on your desktop to easily access these sites and connect quicker.  For instance, I have a bookmark to Etsy’s Forums that takes me directly to my posted threads so that I can check in with the conversations I am having.

The benefit of setting up and maintaining a bookmark system is that you can access what you need, when you need it, and save time in the process.

Are you paying for services that you no longer use?

Don’t get burned by services that promise 15-30 days of free stuff before turning into a paid program that automatically bills your credit card, Google Wallet, or PayPal.  Keep an eye on your “subscription” accounts and set up reminders on your calendar to cancel before they charge if you’re not feeling it.

I like to try the newest and shiniest cloud-based tools that the web has to offer so that I can increase my productivity and report back on how it worked for me.  To avoid getting hit with a bill for a product I may have tried for a few days and forgot about, I use only one payment method (PayPal or my PayPal Debit Mastercard) for these types of services and perform o a sweep of my PayPal account for subscriptions in the Account Manager on a monthly basis.  I also take it a step further and put in on my Google Cal on or around a web tools’ subscription is coming up so I can cancel with the vendor before I get charged if I’m not feeling it.

If you have a propensity for signing up for freemium services, I strongly advocate that you take inventory of what you’ve been using and what you haven’t so that you are not needlessly paying for things you do not use.

Do you like the tools that you’re using, or is it time to make a change?

Is your invoicing service still working for the level of work or number of employees that you have?  Do you have former clients from prior years still looming in your system as active projects?

Is your web-based notebook tool still working for you, or against you?  Are your tags and categories still relevant?

Do you need more secure ways to store and share documents online, or is your current system still adequate?

Take some time in April to look at what online tools you use frequently, what you can do without, and what tools you need but don’t yet have.  Here are a few ideas:

  • Online Image Editors
  • File Storage Tools
  • Time Tracking/Management
  • To-Do Lists
  • Social Media Scheduling Tools
  • Project Management
  • Appointment Scheduling Tools
  • Web-Based Calendar System

When taking inventory, think about what functions you need your tools to current possess, how much you are willing to pay for it, and if these tools will adapt to your businesses’ growth and needs over the next two months.

Are you paying for the right level of service?

Maybe you once heavily used a web-based service on its premium level but now do not utilize all of the features.  It might be time to downgrade to a free account.  I recently scaled back on several programs that I was paying premium but not using to its full potential and saved $225 a month.  That’s like 75 tacos, ya’ll.

Perhaps you had big plans for a registered domain, bought hosting, and never did anything with it…one year later.

Take stock of what paid services you are actually using and what you’re not.  Downgrade or cancel components to free up your resources.

Are you ready to take inventory?

Make time to do a necessary sweep this Spring.  I usually schedule my sweeps around times that I can just work on the computer undisturbed and zone out for a bit, or when I’m low energy but need to clean up some administrative tasks for myself.  Once you reign in your toolbox, I promise that you will feel invigorated to tackle your to-do list with your renewed vigor, thanks to a well-swept work environment.

To get you started, I made a FREE little spreadsheet that can provide infrastructure for your Spring cleaning efforts.  Feel free to download and share:

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