Is there anything more satisfying than getting stuck into the annual spring clean?
It’s the perfect opportunity to declutter, destress and devote some quality time to creating a clean, serene and happy space for ourselves.
It’s a chance to do away with the old and enjoy a brand new start.
Yet while many of us may only focus our spring cleaning efforts on our home, there’s plenty of benefits to spring cleaning our online teaching businesses too.
Think about it:
Day in, day out, we get so busy working with students and planning our lessons that we don’t take time to take stock and address the mountains of both physical and digital clutter that builds up in and around our business.
If we only did so, however, we’ll find that -after our big spring clean- we can return to a business that feels easier to manage, less stressful and far more capable of focusing on what’s truly important:
Helping students improve their English.
With that in mind, why not take some time out this weekend to spring clean your online teaching business?
Not sure where to start?
These pointers may help
1: Unsubscribe from services you no longer use
One of the great things about being an ESL teacher at the height of the Internet age is that there are so many tools and services available to help us do our jobs.
From lesson resources to business tools, it’s easy to get carried away and sign up for every service that comes our way, especially if it helps us to fulfill a specific need at a specific time.
Yet after that need has fulfilled, many of us forget to unsubscribe from those services.
At best, that means our inbox is often flooded with spam from services we used once two years ago. At worst, it means that we continue to pay monthly subscription fees for services despite never using them.
Remember that one time you paid for a membership to a lesson resource site just to access a certain lesson plan? You may not have been back to that site since, but you may well be still paying for it.
That’s why it’s such a good idea to start your business spring clean by taking stock of all the services, tools and products that you use and asking yourself some important questions:
1: Do I still use this?
2: Does this actually help me to deliver better online English lessons?
3: Am I wasting money paying for this service every month even though I don’t use it?
Cancel memberships and unsubscribe from anything that doesn’t add genuine value to your business.
With services that you do use and pay for, you might also want to consider looking for free alternatives to see if you could save money.
For example, do you really need to keep paying that Microsoft Office subscription every month or would a free Google Docs account work just as well?
2: Declutter your files and documents
Lesson plans, worksheets, student homework...before you know it, all of those documents can soon add up and leave your laptop looking like a completely cluttered mess.
Sure, it may not seem like a big deal at first, but if you’ve ever found yourself searching for ages through your hard drive just to locate a single document, you might find it a good idea to start decluttering your computer.
Look at all those files and documents you’ve amassed over the years and, again, ask yourself the important questions.
Do I still need this document?
Will it help me deliver better lessons for my students?
Is it something that I might need in the future but right now is only taking up precious space on my computer?
If you answered yes to the last question, you might want to consider archiving those ‘someday’ documents and backing them up using a service like Dropbox and/or an external hard drive.
Otherwise, you might want to consider deleting any old or unnecessary files that you no longer have any use for, freeing up space and making it much easier to find the files you do need in future.
Speaking of which, if you haven’t done so already, now might be an ideal time to consider setting up a filing system on your computer that will make things easier to manage in the future.
3: Give your computer a clean bill of health
As an online English teacher, your computer is undoubtedly the most valuable tool you own. So, while you’re logged anyway to delete all those out-of-date files, consider taking some extra time to give it a full and thorough spring clean of its own.
Start out by scanning for and removing any viruses, malware and other troublesome files, emptying the recycle bin and get rid of anything else that might be slowing you down.
You can use tools like CCleaner to do this, though your computer itself will already have some inbuilt tools that you can use.
If you’re not too techy, don’t worry, Tech Hub has a great guide on how to thoroughly spring clean your computer.
4: Let go of marketing materials you’re not using
Remember that Twitter account you set up ages ago to help you reach potential new students?
Of course, you do.
After all, though you may have only used it a handful of times, it constantly nags at you, doesn’t it? It’s always there, reminding you that you’re neglecting it and leaving you with an uneasy, guilty feeling.
Perhaps you feel like you should get round to updating it, but for whatever reason, you just haven’t gotten round to it.
Or maybe you read all those articles about the importance of starting your own blog, yet for whatever reason, you’ve found that your efforts just aren’t producing the results you need.
Whatever the case may be, now might be a good time to take stock of all your marketing efforts and let go of anything that just isn’t working for you.
Living in the digital age, we’re lucky that we have more options for marketing our business than at any other time in history.
Not only do we have Twitter and blogging, but we also have Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google Ads, podcasts, Pinterest, and plenty of others.
Still, just because so many tools are available to us doesn’t mean we’re obligated to use them all.
In fact, being a tweeting, Facebooking, podcasting blogger with a LinkedIn company page and several Pinterest boards can feel like a full-time job in itself, often adding a whole bunch of unnecessary stress on top of the day-to-day challenges of running our online teaching business.
Instead, look closely at the tools you’re using and be honest with yourself about which ones actually work for you and which ones you enjoy using.
Try to limit it to two or three (or at least to a number that feels manageable to you) then let go of the rest and, in turn, let go of the stress of trying to become a one-person marketing machine.
By doing so, you’ll not only feel better about marketing your business, but you’ll also find that, by narrowing your focus to just a small number of marketing channels, you’ll be able to produce better results than if you spread yourself too thinly across every platform out there.
5: Ditch the lesson plans that send your students to sleep
You’ve been using those same old worksheets for years now, but let’s be honest:
Most of the time the only thing those worksheets achieve is boring your students to tears.
With that in mind, why not take some time to go through your lesson plans and resources and get rid of those that just don’t hit the right note with your students.
Need to replace them with something more inspiring?
We’ve got you covered.
On our blog, you’ll find lots of ideas for themed lessons and resources that are guaranteed to be a hit with pupils, check them out here.
6: Clear out your physical workspace
Research suggests that a clean and clutter-free workspace can help us feel calmer and more relaxed, and the calmer we are, the more productive and creative we’re likely to be.
As such, take some time as part of your spring clean to give your physical space a good clear out.
Those stacks of notes you no longer need can be archived or, better yet, simply thrown away.
Books you long since finished reading can be donated, and all of those loose documents can be suitably stored away.
While you’re at it, this might be the perfect excuse to treat yourself by replacing your tired, old office furniture for something new, to invest in better storage options or to even give your office a fresh coat of paint so that it really does feel as though you’re enjoying a brand new start.
Do you have other ways of spring cleaning your online teaching business? Why not let us know in the comments below and share your tips with your fellow teachers?