Spring cleaning for the self employed

Trust us, we never thought we’d go all Mrs Hinch on you either, but here we are. We’ve been thinking about spring cleaning. Yes, we’re a bit ahead of ourselves – Snowmageddon has Londoners layering their thermals and Northerners trading their T-shirts for a light sweater – but National Spring Cleaning Week is only next month and you know the saying; fail to prepare, prepare to fail. But we’re not talking about cleaning your cupboards and serving the spider that resides in the perennial cobweb on the living room ceiling its eviction notice here. We’re talking spring cleaning for the self employed. We’re thinking tidy desks to bring tidy minds, filing like your life depends on it and putting a fine tooth comb through your finances. We’re not saying it’ll be easy and it almost certainly won’t be what you could call fun, but good god will you feel good afterwards. Because nothing says ‘I’ve got my sh*t together’ like feeling organised AF.

Start with your desktop…

Let’s not beat around the bush; we’re starting our spring cleaning crusade here because it doesn’t require much movement. In fact, grab a beer and load up Netflix, because this stage of the spring clean can even be done with a box set on in the background. Now, turn on your computer and give your desktop a once over; those documents, files and photos that are scattered on your desktop like sprinkles on a Krispy Kreme are your starting point. Delete what you don’t need and logically file what you do, naming each one clearly to save time further down the line when you need that obscure photo from 2016. And if you haven’t already got an external hard drive, get one now and back everything up. Because having everything saved in one place is a fast-track to heartbreak. Finally, cleanse your inbox like you’ve never cleansed it before.

Then spring clean your finances

We’re not long since past the most wonderful time of the year. No, we don’t mean Christmas, we’re talking about tax returns season. With yours done and dusted, it’s time to put in the legwork that will make the whole thing a lot less painful this time next year. And worry not, because you can do this bit from the sofa too.

First and foremost, if you aren’t already using a self-assessment tool, why? They’ve become not just the norm but a necessity when it comes to streamlining and strengthening your tax returns process. QuickBooks has millions of users and you’ll get a month’s free trial to see if it’s right for you before committing. Get on it.

Now take a look at your outgoings. Is there anything you could cut back on? Do you really need a TV licence if you’ve watched nothing but Netflix and Amazon Prime for the past year? Are you paying for a gym membership you don’t use because you’d rather start your mornings with a run in the fresh air? Do you really need that magazine subscription if you flick through each copy for 30 seconds when it arrives then add it to the pile? You’d be surprised how much you can cut back without even noticing.

Now move onto your desk

The final stage in our spring cleaning for the self-employed programme means moving but stick with us. Go to your desk, whether that means your home office or in a co-working space – what do you see? If the answer is unidentifiable crumbs, a deluge of Post-Its and a plant that gave up the ghost months ago, get to work. Germs cling to computers like they were toilets, so invest in some antibacterial wipes designed for the job and scrub yours down. Bin every useless scrap of paper and full-but-never-opened-since notebook from your drawer. Treat yo self to a new plant and plant pot. Clear that stack of folders off the windowsill and let the light come flooding back in. Bin that box of green tea that dates back to a January detox circa three years ago and replace it with something you’ll look forward to breaking off work for five minutes to drink. And stock up on snacks too – cereal bars, nuts, multi-pack of Mars Bars (it’s called balance…)

Finally, if no amount of sprucing up can make your home desk space more inspiring, it could be time to give co-working a go. We know just the place…

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