When I worked in Corporate America, I looked forward to the last two weeks of the year. Lots of people took the time off. Not me. It was a time when I could plan and get caught up. I loved starting the year with a fresh inbox.
Now that I work as a consultant, that really hasn’t changed. Lots of people take time off and I still get the opportunity to plan and get caught up. I still have a little fun too. But here’s my list of eight to-do’s for the last two weeks of the year:
- Get my new calendar ready. I have a paper calendar/planner that I use for keeping notes, etc. Every year, the selection of my planner is a major decision. I like being organized. This year I selected an Erin Condren planner. Not only is it functional, but it looks nice. I believe that planning should be fun and not a chore…so more people will do it.
- Clean up my social media accounts. This involves making sure that my bio is up to date, changing passwords regularly, etc. I like to review my Facebook likes and LinkedIn followers, possibly clean up a few of those. There are services like Untweeps and Crowdfire that allow you to unfollow inactive accounts. A great way to make sure that the people you are connected with are active and engaged.
- Organize client files and tax paperwork. While I’m still going to need these for a few weeks as I’m finishing up our taxes, this is a great time to get the storage boxes ready and put files in some semblance of order. It also allows me to make space for the next year’s records.
- Arrange file storage accounts. Whether you use Box, Dropbox, Amazon Storage or some other platform, this is an opportunity to login to each account, make sure there are no old files there just eating up storage space. Now that many of these services charge a fee, the last thing you want is for them to get junked up with old files that aren’t necessary.
- Review my entertainment. Speaking of junked up accounts, another thing I’ve noticed is that it’s so easy to have my iTunes, Netflix, or DVR recordings take over. The last two weeks of the year is a good time to review and say to myself, “Am I really going to watch that?” and if the answer is “no”, then get rid of it. It’s amazing how much storage space can be freed.
- Toss old warranties. I keep all of our warranties and instruction manuals in a filing cabinet drawer organized by where the item is located in our home. During the year, we buy new things and donate old ones. So, during the last two weeks of the year, I go through the files and toss the warranty manuals for the things we don’t own anymore.
- Check the medicine cabinet. Once a year, we open the medicine cabinets and check the expiration dates on medication. Then we find a place to safely dispose of expired medications (see #8).
- Shred confidential and sensitive paperwork. We are very lucky that our Sheriff’s Department sets up a Shred-A-Thon and prescription medicine disposal for residents. It’s a safe and secure way to dispose of those items. And it’s FREE. If your town has one, you should definitely take advantage of it. And if they don’t, start asking your government officials “Why not?” Identity theft is a major issue and this helps reduce crime.
Whether you’re retired or unretired, it’s necessary to keep your files and records in order. Organization allows us to find things faster and stay productive. It keeps our data and information safe and secure. Being organized and free from clutter can make us feel good and ready to take on the New Year.
Image capture by Sharlyn Lauby after a December board meeting in chilly Boston, MA