Birds are singing, flowers are blooming, and the air outside feels fresh. The signs of spring are all around us, and what better way is there to feel renewed than to make time for some spring cleaning? With warmer weather, sunnier skies, and greener vistas, you’ll naturally feel a new sense of energy to help you get the job done. Carve out some extra time to clean your office, review your contacts, complete your records, and rejuvenate your sense of self. A good spring cleaning will leave you feeling bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to take your interior design business to a new level.
Step 1: Start with a Swift Sweep
There is nothing more cathartic than cleaning up the spaces you inhabit most, especially for interior designers, who typically like rooms to be neat and tidy. Your materials library is the perfect place to tackle first, since it's likely that more than a few samples have been left unfiled over the months between year-end and tax day.
When sorting through your materials library, take the time to pull out samples, catalogs, and other supporting informational materials that you no longer need or that you suspect may be discontinued. Many vendors have a way to check the status of materials through the website, and if not, you can always use this opportunity to call your vendor and have a nice catch-up conversation before asking them to check if a material is still available. If you have a practice of including material samples in client files, go through and remove samples from files that represent finished projects, and see if any should be re-filed in your materials library, checked for status, or returned to the vendor/discarded. Going through the samples you used for past projects will also help you reflect on how your style is evolving over time, which materials no longer inspire you, and which you would eagerly use again.
Refreshing your materials library is actually a lot of fun, and the exercise should get your adrenaline pumping and endorphins spiking. Ride that wave of energy to next tackle your business files, which admittedly, can be a bit boring to sort through. While sifting through a pile of black ink on white paper is not nearly as stimulating as running your fingers over textured, colorful objects d’art, the task is of ultimate importance. Somewhere deep in the stack of papers on your desk could be the original copy of a signed budget, a business card of an important magazine editor you met at a party, or even a clump of receipts for which your design assistant is waiting to be reimbursed.
Go through every last stray paper, file what you need, and throw away what you don’t. If you have an overwhelming amount of paper files taking up primary real estate in your office, consider archiving the files pertaining to old projects or financial records from 5+ years past to another location. Perhaps there is an underutilized closet within your domain where old files can be kept safe, dry, and accessible if ever needed.
Now that your surfaces have been cleared of clutter, your entire office is ready for a straightforward spring clean! Break out your sprays, cleaning cloths, brooms, and vacuums, put in some elbow grease, and voila! Your office, and your attitude, will sparkle like a freshly cut diamond. Of course, you can always call in professional reinforcements to help with the actual cleaning.
Step 2: Review Your Records
A clean and organized office space feels like a blank slate — just what you’ll need to take your spring cleaning to a deeper place, your records. If you‘re already using Design Manager, the accounting and project management software created specifically for interior designers, this next phase of cleaning should be easy. Design Manager provides a system for organizing all of your files and contacts, so you don’t have to manually maintain information in a set of disparate spreadsheets saved across complicated file paths.
If you’re not yet working with Design Manager, you’ll have to go through the process of re-assessing and re-prioritizing your contacts manually. Either way, the task is an important part of your spring cleaning that should not be neglected. Not only will the organization help you work faster in the future, but the act of reviewing your contacts will also help you understand how your network is working for you and what you need to do to build a stronger network and grow your business.
Just like we recommend cleaning your materials library before tackling your paper filing, we recommend reviewing your address book before doing the same for your project and accounting records. Refining your contact information will revv your entrepreneurial engine, giving you the stamina to sort through your files to check for missing or inaccurate information. Again, if you are using Design Manager, this process should be relatively painless, as the software provides a clear framework for recording all of the relevant contact details. If you are not yet using Design Manager, this would be a good time to sign up for a free trial. Regardless, your spring cleaning should include an exercise of reviewing your project and accounting records to add in missing figures, images, and check for any numbers that don’t quite add up.
Step 3: Fine-Tune Your Financial Goals
If you made it this far, congratulations! Your cleaning days are behind you (for now), and you’re ready to look forward. Now that your project and accounting records are accurate and up to date, take the next step and see what the future of your business looks like based on the current data.
With Design Manager, you can easily pull up reports on project status, time billing, and your year to date financials so forecasting for the rest of the year is a breeze. By checking in on the health of your business now, you can set new goals and make a plan for how to achieve them based on facts. You can also feel the relief of getting ahead of any problems before the summer begins, when clients and vendors go on vacation and issues can take longer to resolve.
Step 4: Refresh Yourself
After all of that physical labor and mental exercise, you deserve to focus your energy on rejuvenating yourself. Take an honest approach to assessing how you present yourself to the world. Does your wardrobe or grooming routine need an update? Going deeper, are you getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, and getting enough me-time every week? Decide which areas of your personal appearance and lifestyle could use a refresh, and make time in your calendar every week going forward for self-care.
You can’t fully tap into your creative genius and brilliance for business without taking care of your health and feeling confident in how you present yourself. If you’re wondering where you will find the time, remember that Design Manager is here for you! Take advantage of the industry-specific support Design Manager can provide to your business, giving you the time and energy to devote to being the best interior designer on the proverbial block.