As the year 2012 comes to a close here are some ideas that will help us plan to be better organized heading into the New Year.
1. Check your Credit Report
Check your Credit Report every year. This will help check for any discrepancies on your credit file and get them corrected. I would also suggest using a credit monitoring service.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies – Equifax, Experian, and TranUnion to provide consumers with a free copy of their credit report. The customer can request it for free once every 12 months. You can take advantage of this offer at this time if you did not do so already. There is only one authorized website where you can check your credit for free.
Click here to go the AnnualCreditReport.com website, which is the official site to help consumers to obtain their free credit report.
Refer to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) site for additional details.
2. Check your Driver’s License, Passport & Visa Status
Check your driver’s license for the expiration date. If the dates are closer to expiration, plan on getting it renewed. You can check with your state’s Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office for additional details.
Check your passport for the expiration dates. If it is close to expiration, plan on getting it renewed. You don’t want to plan a vacation to a foreign country and find out in the last minute that the passport is expiring soon or have already expired. This will help to avoid last minute disappointments and delays. If you travel to other countries frequently, make sure that you have a valid visa.
For additional details check with the US Department of State Website.
3. Cleanup your Desk
If you have not looked at something in the past two years, it is very likely that you might not need it them all. Clear everything off your desk and drawers that you don’t think you need. Get rid of unwanted books, papers and magazines. You can set up an alphabetical filing system with a folder for each subject or project. Throw away anything that is not needed anymore. If you get your credit card, utility bills and any other bills or statements by regular mail, create folders, sort them and file them appropriately.
4. Switch to Online Billing
If you receive your credit card, utility bills and any other bills or statements by regular mail, update all bills and statements to online billing to reduce the unwanted paperwork and clutter. This will help you to be better organized and helps being prompt in paying your bills in a timely manner. Some companies even reward you for switching to online billing.
5. Plan your Calendar for the New Year
Planning your year in advance will help you tremendously. I have used different calendars and spreadsheets in the past but I have found the “Annual Time Block Tool” created and shared by Michael Hyatt to be very useful. Michael Hyatt is the author of the book “Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World” (Thomas Nelson). It is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestseller. He is also the former Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, the seventh largest trade book publishing company in the U.S.
Here is the link where you can find information on Creating an Annual Time Block
You can also use various apps on your smartphones and smart devices, but I believe in a master copy that I can go back to whenever I need it. (FYI-Smartphones do crash)
6. Back-up your Computer Files, Photos and Delete unwanted files
Sometimes our computers crash during critical times. To protect your work from hard drive crashes and computer failures you must have a good strategy to back-up your files frequently.
If you haven’t backed up your files recently now is the best time to do it. Online storage companies like Dropbox, adrive, idrive, Evernote, justcloud, sugarsync and SkyDrive offer free limited storage space online. If you need additional storage space you can purchase it for additional cost. The data from these sites will be accessible from anywhere in the world if you have internet access. I found it to be very useful. Check with the individual sites for more information. (I am not endorsing any particular company but these are just a few suggestions. I personally use Evernote and SkyDrive)
You can also buy an External hard drive and you should be able to connect it to your computer using a USB cable. This will help you to back up your data once connected. (You can choose on what files or folders that you would like to back-up). The prices of the external hard drives dropped recently so invest in buying one for you if required.
You can back up your digital pictures on the external hard drive or you can purchase online storage from sites like Picasa or Shutterfly. (As stated earlier some space might be free of cost but additional space can be purchased) The advantage with online storage is that those sites will allow you to share your pictures with your friends and family online.
Over time you will be storing a lot of files on your computer. Get rid of files and programs on your computer that are not needed anymore. Delete the files that are not needed and cleanup your desktop of unwanted icons.
7. Change Your Online Passwords:
Security experts highly recommended that you change your passwords every 3-6 months. If you did not change them recently, I highly recommend changing the passwords for your online accounts now. This includes your email accounts, Social Networking site passwords, Credit card accounts, Bank Accounts and any other online accounts that you may have. Remember that your online account is as secure as your password. So choose a strong password. Here are some security tips on Choosing and Protecting Passwords from United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team.
8. Cleanup Your Email
We all receive a lot of junk email. Unsubscribe from newsletters and delete any emails if they are not needed. Create folders in your mail box and drop the incoming mails after you read into those folders if you think they are needed for future reference. If you think any email is not needed delete it as soon as you read it.
9. Check your Social Media Strategy
Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin are great tools to be in touch with people who are close to you both in personal and professional life. If you blog, that’s a great tool to share your thoughts and ideas with the world. These tools must be something that will add value to you and in turn for you to add value to others.
Never talk cheap about anyone. Be nice to people in your interactions. Think twice before posting or commenting on something. Never argue online. If there is a problem pick up the phone and work on resolving the issue. Check your online profiles to make sure they are current. Many social networking sites are frequently updating their privacy policies. Check your privacy settings and make sure they are good.
Feel free to Google your name to see what comes up!
10. Update your Resume
As we work on various projects every year it is a good practice to update your resume frequently or at least once a year. Take time to update your resume, if you have not updated it recently. You never know what can happen so it is always good to be ready with the updated version of the resume.
11. Health Check-up & Gym Memberships
If you did not have your medical checkup’s recently, schedule an appointment with your doctor in order to make sure that all is well with your health. It is important to take care of your health. Being healthy is very important to lead a productive life.
If you have a Gym membership, plan your workout strategy for next year. Look back to see how many times you have visited the Gym this year. If you find it is not worth the return on your investment, cancel the membership and think about buying some home exercise equipment like a treadmill or an elliptical machine. Then you can exercise at home at your own convenience. This way you can save time on getting ready and driving to the gym. This works out well for some people.
12. Make that Call Now!
If you did not speak to your family member or your loved ones recently, please take time to call them now. A family is a place where we can find comfort, support and encouragement. It is common for families to have issues and problems. But the greatest thing about a family is that we can work out and resolve these things together as there is forgiveness in family. Take time to let your family know that you care about them and love them. It will make a difference in their lives as well as yours.
I hope that you will find this information helpful. Feel free to share your thoughts if you think of any more useful tips that can help us get better. I will be glad to hear from you.
Wish You All A Happy & A Blessed New Year!