This is one of my favorite times of the year – the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. I usually have some downtime from work, and the upcoming New Year presents the opportunity and motivation to make things happen. So, I wanted to share a few of the organizing tasks that I tackle at this time of year to finish out the current year strong and kick off the next one on the right note. Here are my top 4 things to do:
1. Clean Out Old to Make Room for New
Before putting away the new gifts you just received, first clean out the space where that item belongs. This way you can take a few minutes to go through a drawer or cupboard instead of just jamming the items into an already overcrowded space. Then donate the old stuff. This works great for new clothes, toys and books. Now you have some open space ready to house the new stuff. Make a list of what you are getting rid of. Take the donations to the donation site by Dec 31 for one more tax deduction of the year.
2. Get Started on Tax Prep
Purge your paper files and piles and start getting your tax items together for the CPA. Your CPA will be happier to see you in February versus April. If you have college age students, you can start the FAFSA process for the next school year in January.
3. Re-Look at Holiday Decorations
Before putting away the holiday decorations you did use, make the decision to toss out some of the stuff you did not use this year. Take a look at your storage containers and decide if it is time for an upgrade. I like to use plastic boxes instead of cardboard boxes. Also, if I got a new wreath, lights or tree this year then the old one is out. Again, make a list and then give it all to the donation site before Dec 31.
4. Plan the New Year with a Paper Calendar
Get an old fashion paper calendar and enjoy planning out the New Year. This is when I make some personal and business goals and see how I can work towards them during the new year. For example – one of my business goals is to attend at least 2 professional conferences during the year. Having a whole year in front of me helps me decide which conferences to attend. Typically, I go for one in the spring and the other in the fall. Now I know where I am going and can plan the how I am going to get there and how much money I need to set aside to pay for the hotels and education. With careful planning I might even get in some additional vacation time too. Got kids? Add in their school calendars, sporting events and doctor appointments and now you can see what your family will be doing alongside your work calendar. I find the act of writing and working with the paper calendar really helps me visualize time better. Research shows that people who plan actually accomplish more than those who don’t.
Even if you don’t accomplish all 4 of these tasks by the New Year, digging in on as many as you can manage will feel great and put you in a great place to start 2016. Here’s wishing you a happy, prosperous, and organized New Year!