Online business hygiene.
Today I needed to break form and start writing my daily blog an hour later than scheduled.
I had some online business hygiene to take care of.
As banal as it might sound, I spent 60 minutes reorganizing the browser windows and bookmark bars of my various online accounts.
With multiple writing clients on my roster, I was getting annoyed with opening up apps only to be automatically logged into a client’s account. Or having to select my username and password from my password manager’s drop-down menu.
This is 2018—almost 2019—and that’s not only unacceptable, it’s also completely unnecessary.
So, I did a Marie Kondo move and logged myself out of everything. Then, I logged back into each account in a separate browser.
No more juggling multiple passwords and usernames.
No more getting annoyed for a reason I have control over.
I have a lot to do today, and still, this was a priority.
In the almost three years since I started working online, I’ve learned that keeping my digital space tidy isn’t just good for my sanity, it’s good for business.
Beyond simply organizing separate browser accounts, online business hygiene includes everything from contract signing software, to payment gateways, to notification settings on your social media apps.
It’s true we don’t keep workspaces like we used to. And we can now get away with wearing loungewear from the waist down during business meetings.
At the same time, I think it’s important to think of our online workspaces as needing the same care and organization that would be expected in a more traditional office.
In my experience, this saves time and allows for a more supportive online work environment. Knowing where everything is increases productivity and makes for more streamlined communications. It also takes a lot of the guesswork out of tasks that can be automated or at least be made protocol.
Most importantly, greater attention to online business hygiene allows you to spend more time and energy taking care of your clients and doing your best work.
Something I’m working on when it comes to this practice is setting clearer boundaries around the types of meetings that I’ll participate in with clients.
I used to jump on a call anytime a client wanted information or even just wanted to check in.
However, after many years of reading blog posts like this one, I finally decided to let my current clients know that while I am thrilled to meet with them for anything that needs real-time collaboration, I am not available to relay information that could otherwise be communicated via email, voice memo, or a video-sharing app.
I was careful to emphasize the reason behind this change of procedures. Some of my clients were more enthusiastic than others. Still, I am confident that this is best for everyone and, most importantly, the work we’re doing together. (We are talking about business after all.)
The important thing to remember about online business hygiene is that it’s an ongoing process. Like flossing, if you work it into your regular schedule, you’ll be far less likely to end up with any cavities—or a need for a massive cleaning—later on.
So, what can you do today to contribute to your business’s online hygiene?
It’s probably best if you start with something small enough that you’ll succeed at crossing it off your list.