Sometimes (for me, almost always) the writing is the easy part. It's the revisions that are difficult. What makes it harder for any writer to clean, prune, rewrite and reorganize any piece of work is the lack of objective feedback.
Having a reliable group of beta readers to provide critique on your work is invaluable. This is the place to make connections and either ask for or offer to be a beta reader.
If you're offering your services, remember to stay objective and provide useful feedback. If you're receiving input, do your best to listen, even if it's not something you want to hear. (The writer's ego is SO delicate)
I think it's a great idea to have a pair of fresh new eyes to look over one's story. I have a few that I'd like someone to review and if you like, I can review some of your short stories for you but it has to be after this week. Finals, ugh.
I love this idea of trading critiques. The problem I have right now is not having enough time to work on short stories to submit for critique! I've been focusing on my novel and on keeping enough flash fiction on my blog to keep it going -- and on my job, which is especially crazy this week and next. I bring my novel chapters to my in-person critique group, but they've seen at least some of the other chapters (not in order of course, ugh) so at least I don't have to start from scratch with describing the characters and situation.
I'm definitely keen on critiquing others' short stories (after next week, that is). And actually, I've had some good experiences critiquing others' chapters even mid-book with my Critters Workshop, so I wouldn't cross that off the list of possibilities.