Spring Cleaning for Metrics

    by Tim Cigelske
    May 10, 2016
    Photo from pexels.com and used here with Creative Commons license

    I get spring fever in all aspects of my life.

    Every year around this time, I have a compulsion to clean out my inbox, dust the corners around my desk and throw out the kind of junk that magically accumulates over time.

    "It’s easy to develop multiple junk drawers crammed with stuff you swear will come in useful someday."

    Afterward, I feel so much better, and I feel like I can focus better on what matters without being surrounded by so much clutter.


    The same manic desire to purge and organize can be applied to your system of tracking metrics. Here are some tips to help with your digital spring cleaning.

    Organize, organize, organize

    When you move into a new home, it seems like there’s so much storage space. So you start putting things whenever (or at least I do — my wife yells at me for this). Of course, this leads to problems when you can’t remember where you put something you need, or maybe no one else understands the seemingly random method to your madness. So start organizing. With your metrics system, maybe you have multiple dashboards and reports stashed somewhere in your email. Rethink your system. Is it logical? Is it too spread out? Is the data that you normally use easily accessible? Now’s the time to ask these questions, consolidate and organize.

    If you haven’t used it in a year, toss it

    Over time, it’s easy to develop multiple junk drawers crammed with stuff you swear will come in useful someday. Then that day never comes, and the junk drawers get more crammed. The same thing can happen with metrics dashboards, which can become bloated over the years. Just as you can take stock of your storage, do an inventory of what you’re actually measuring in your dashboard. Is it all still relevant? Or can some of it get tossed?

    Photo used via Creative Commons Zero license via stock.tookapic.com

    Photo used via Creative Commons Zero license via stock.tookapic.com

    Reduce, reuse, recycle

    Not everything has to be tossed in a dumpster and hauled away to a landfill, of course. Some dusty metrics can be saved, re-purposed or brought back to life.  But there’s a fine line between someone who is trying to be eco-friendly and someone who has just become a hoarder. The key is to know what is worth saving, and hone your focus on that. For example, AppSumo reduced its goals to one single annual metric on course-signs up instead of several intermediate metrics. “Focusing on one specific thing helped us say no to other distracting things and accomplish our goal,” wrote AppSumo’s Noah Kagan.

    Have a yard sale

    Stop hoarding your metrics where they aren’t useful to anyone. Remember, one person’s trash could be another person’s treasure. So try a garage sale for your metrics. Pick a time and location and pull out all your old spreadsheets, dashboards and reports. You could even put them in a bin that says “Free to a good home.” Invite your colleagues to look through them. They might find something of value that you overlooked or have no use for. At any garage sale, a lot of it might be junk. But someone might just go home the proud new owner of something they didn’t know existed a few hours earlier.

    Tim Cigelske (@TeecycleTim) is the Associate Editor of MetricShift. He has reported and written for the Associated Press, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Budget Travel, Adventure Cyclist and more. Today, he is the Director of Social Media at Marquette University as well as an adjunct professor teaching media writing and social media analytics. You may also know him as The Beer Runner blogger for DRAFT Magazine. 

    Tagged: appsumo media metrics metrics spring cleaning success metrics

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