spring cleaningYou’ve put your winter clothes away, replaced the storm windows with screens, and tidied up your house and lawn. Now it’s time for some career spring cleaning. Spring is a time of renewal, when we’re filled with hope and our future feels promising. It’s a good time to ask yourself these questions:

How’s my career going?
What changes would I like to see in the coming months?
How can I energize my work life, and infuse my brand with more pizzazz?

Here are nine ways to clear away job cobwebs and spruce up your work life and career.

Spread your knowledge wings.
How well do you keep up with trends in your industry? Do an online search for the top publications and blogs in your field, and subscribe to a few of them. Commit to 15 minutes a day of reading. This is a great way to find new ideas for projects, learn what others are talking about, and discover fresh answers and opportunities in your field.

Be a social (media) butterfly.
When you read something smart, be active and social by sending the author an email, posting a comment at their blog, or retweeting their piece. Communicating and interacting with thinkers is active and social. Reach out to new friends and acquaintances in your industry; they’ll remember you.

Bloom into a new look.
Update your look for spring; it can energize your brand. Almost everyone purchases one or two new items for the warm-weather season. This year, give it some extra thought. What kind of image do you project? Perhaps it’s time to add something really fresh—like a bold color if you always wear black, or a really new hairstyle if you’ve had the same one since college. People will notice, and this is how you start to change your image and brand.

Rake through old contacts.
Look through that stack of business cards you’ve collected over the past few years and find someone you’ve been meaning to connect with professionally. Or go through your social media connections and identify someone intriguing. Reintroduce yourself, tell the person you’d love to catch up, and make a breakfast date. You never know what opportunities could be waiting for you when you reach out.

Spruce up your language.
Do a clean sweep of your speech. Do you say “like” and “you know” all the time? Are you in the lazy habit of using thing instead of a more specific word? When was the last time you learned a new vocabulary word? Do you curse? Think about how you want your words to reflect your personality and expertise in a professional setting—and make a conscious effort to pay attention to what comes out of your mouth.

Polish your writing.
Related to the above, are you known for typo-laden emails, cutesy and inappropriate emoticons, or hastily written messages? Think about what your writing says about you. Create emails that have a clear subject heading, and one main idea or question to address. Use bullet points to list salient points. Check for spelling errors before you hit send. Keep your emails brief. Your professional colleagues will appreciate how considerate and clear you are—and your emails will get opened and read more often.

Fix up neglected relationships.
Is there someone in your office with whom you’ve had a prickly relationship? Or perhaps there’s an old client you’ve taken for granted. Ponder the people you deal with professionally, and pick out one relationship that could use some attention. Invite this person to lunch, send her a handwritten note of appreciation, or pick up the phone. You’ll be surprised how effective a little courtesy and reaching out can be.

Sow goodwill with compliments.
One of the best ways to inject your day with energy and positive interactions is to make others around you feel good. If you notice that someone looks nice, or does a great presentation, or went out of his way to be helpful, give him a sincere and genuine compliment. People want to feel valued and noticed and appreciated. It’s a win-win—you’ll feel better and so will they.

Plant some new goals.
Springtime is the perfect time to set a new career goal. Do you want to make more money this year, get a promotion, or perhaps even find a new job? Use the energy you’ve created to motivate you. Get started with concrete steps that will put you in the mood: writing an accomplishment log, updating your resume, or networking. Make a time line, and set stepping-stone goals along the way that you can accomplish.