Real Men Do Necessary Maintenance Work

Hugh MacLeodEvery weekend, I do some maintenance and upkeep of my business environment, tools, and apps.

Last week I wrote about the tools I use to work. This week I talk about maintaining them.

As they say, this ain’t the sexy stuff.

But it is the stuff that if left untended, it distracts you from doing the work you are supposed to do.

So, you’ve all been there…you’ve let something go, such as your inbox, your desk, your yard, your closet, your garage, etc.

Ultimately, you have to spend a whole day (or much longer) to clean up something and get it back to level.

You know damn well the key is to maintain, and not let it get bad again.

So, that’s what I am talking about here.

I have to take these steps, and I try to do it every weekend. It is one of those futzin’ tasks that I enjoy on a quiet weekend morning, with a little coffee going and some Miles Davis or Coltrane playing.

Kind of sets me up nicely to kick it into the week without a lot of weeds cluttering up my conscience.

This concept may not matter to you, but it is critical to me. Or, you are in denial.

Anyways, here is a simple checklist of the maintenance duties I perform each weekend.

It usually takes me an hour or two, depending on what other multi-tasking distractions get in my way. And I usually run through this checklist not in one sitting, but just here and there over the course of Saturday and Sunday:

1. Clear voicemail/texts. I love to start the week with a clear voicemail inbox, and be sure I’ve got a plan to address all my recent incoming messages.

2. Clear Moleskine notes. Over the course of the week, I jot down ideas, To Dos, voice messages, and other action items. So, I either do them, delete them, or get them slotted into my CRM.

3. Clear voice notes. I leave myself dozens of voice notes over the week: reminders, ideas (while driving), mileage for business travel, to name a few. The weekend is when I process these by doing them, recording them, or slotting into Highrise (CRM).

4. Clear iPhone/iPad “Notes.” This is usually where I record ideas and To Dos when I am lying in bed in the wee hours. Before I wake up, I usually email them to myself for processing, but clear this out each weekend.

5. Process pics and videos on my iPhone. Amazing how quickly photos and videos can accumulate on the iPhone. Most are deleted, but some are filed away in Dropbox, or sent to clients for use.

6. Inbox ZERO! Nothing, I mean nothing, is more uplifting than to see that “0″ in your inbox. I’ve written about inbox zero before.

7. Clear my physical inbox. Yes, I still have one. Over the course of the week, I do compile a small stack of papers that need to be dealt with. Most are shredded, a few are filed and/or scanned.

8. Client email inboxes. I have a few separate email accounts for clients. I want to be sure I am not missing anything here.

9. Clear all TO DOs from my CRM, I use 37Signal’s Highrise. This is my MASTER ACTION ITEM list. Most everything, emails, voicemails, jotted notes from the moleskine, end up processed and slotted here. I dive into this thing pretty much on a daily basis, so it doesn’t get too out of control. But a few minutes over the weekend when not in a mad rush usually pinpoints a few actions that need to be recalibrated.

10. RSS Reader. Sometimes, I drop a feed or two from my list that isn’t delivering value. I need to make the best use of my time, and I don’t want to waste it looking at stuff that isn’t working for me.

11. Update apps on both iPhone and iPad. I want to be sure my smart devices are functioning as efficiently and effectively as possible. So, I just like to be sure everything is current.

12. Main Dropbox folders. Me and my partners upload a ton of material into Dropbox each week. So, I have to keep on top of all this new digital stuff, or I will lose control after too long.

13. Notational Velocity. I jot down a ton of ideas and potential blog post drafts here over the week, including this one. So, I need to weed out the bad ideas and delete the stuff I’ve completed.

14. Evernote. Over the course of the week, I save a ton of stuff to Evernote. I quickly review and determine what needs to be kept and tagged for future reference. Much is deleted.

15. Backpack file folders. I store active client files in my backpack, that way, they are always with me. But I have to tend to these often.

16. Backpack. Over the course of time, you can accumulate junk in your case. You have to constantly keep this clear of junk creep. My process is simple. I dump it out on the bed. Toss the crap, and repack what needs to remain.

17. Clean all my devices: iPhone, iPad, and my MacBook Pro. It is simply amazing how much more fun it is to work on a clean and spiffy device. Plus, it looks better in the coffee shop. Chicks dig a shiny MacBook! I use a Bausch + Lomb product approved by Apple called “clens.”

In conclusion…

Doing these maintenance tasks, on a regular basis, enables me to spend more focused time doing the work that matters to me, such as:

1. Writing.
2. Being creative.
3. Focusing on customers.
4. Focusing on prospects.
5. Distance running.
6. Spending time with people I care about.
7. Reading and learning.
8. Communicating.
9. Hosting business talk radio.

I have a lot of work to do, actual creative work, each week. And with a growing business, it is stacking up. So, this maintenance process each weekend grounds me well, and sets me up to charge into the week focused on what work needs to be done.

And that I want to do! Without distraction…


Your marketing strategy probably needs maintenance too, join our list to learn more about it.

Drawing by Hugh.

  • Doug Lehman

    Todd this is great list and doing the necessary maintenance to make you more productive words to live by. I need to act on this on a regular basis. I also enjoyed the post on tools you use to work. Organization and maintencance is key to being more productive..

  • Todd Schnick

    you said the key words, doug: “i need to act on this on a regular basis.” that’s the difference…

  • Robyn Lindsey

    Thanks for this great list! Have just started devoting my weekends to getting rid of the clutter so I can spend the week being productive at my business. Am going to steal your list and adapt it for my own apps, etc.

  • Todd Schnick

    steal away! and let me know what i am missing!