The holidays are over. It's been brutally cold for days. The country is divided politically. But it's the new year, so we're supposed to try to have a sunny outlook and positive attitude. We've been trained to believe this is the optimal time to focus our energies on improving ourselves and accomplishing all of those things that we failed to do last year. Talk about pressure.
Getting organized is a worthy resolution, but it's not just one task to cross off your list. It's an ongoing process. Pace yourself by setting a few achievable goals each quarter. This will help you avoid burnout and keep you focused and motivated. Here are some things on my list for the first quarter of 2018.
The beginning of the year is a good time to look closely at recent credit card bills. Double-check that no new fees are being tacked on to your monthly bill and that the interest rates haven't changed. Also, take a few minutes to review your recurring charges and assess whether those expenses are still ones you want to incur. Take a fresh look at a card's rewards program to ensure you're taking full advantage of all its benefits and, if necessary, research alternative credit cards for better rates and rewards.
It seems like a no-brainer to make note of each and every appointment when you schedule it. But too often, we run off to the next thing and forget to put an appointment on our calendar. Taking a minute to immediately enter all new commitments on your electronic or paper calendar will save you time and work later. Not only will you not have to spend mental energy trying to remember the details, but you'll avoid double-booking and the frustration that goes with rescheduling.
This task only takes a few minutes, but it's one that is not considered urgent because you won't need the list for another year. However, it is much easier to add people to your list or to change an address now — when all of your cards are still accessible and the details are fresh in your mind. Look through the cards you received to make sure you have the correct address and that the recipients' names are up-to-date. You'll thank yourself in November.
If you want to feel a sense of accomplishment without doing a lot of work, gather those items you have set aside for repair and take them in to be fixed. Whether it's a coat or bag that needs a new zipper or the heel of your boots that needs repair, put the items in bags, put them in your car and drive them to the vendors. Don't overthink whether the repair is prudent or if the place you plan to take them is the best option available. Just get it done. You'll be so happy you did.
Purging books is difficult for many Washingtonians, but it's a good idea to review your collection at the beginning of each year. Don't plan to look through every book in your house at one time. Choose one room or a set of shelves and glance through the titles. Everyone has a few books that they've read and don't plan to reread that can be donated. You may have a few that are so outdated they can be recycled. Or, you may have a favorite paperback that you want to give to a friend. Clearing out old books will give you room for the new ones you plan to buy. This goes for your kids' books, too. If they have moved on to a new reading level or new topics of interest, clean out the old books and donate them to a friend or teacher.
If you keep paper files and receipts, the new year is a great time to purge and shred or recycle old paperwork. Most bills are available electronically, but if you do like paper copies, most things (besides your taxes) do not need to be kept for more than a year. Tackle one file drawer; sort through it, and shred or recycle the old papers right away.
So get started. Set your own goals for the next few months. If you don't get everything done, don't panic. Keep calm and carry on. Move any unfinished items to the following quarter's list and add other tasks as needed. Just keep going.