As the year 2014 is coming to a close here are 14 ideas that can help us to be better organized heading into the New Year.
1. Check your Credit Report
Check your Credit Report every year. Especially when we hear about all these data breaches in recent times, it is a good practice to check the credit report. This will help to check for any discrepancies on the credit file and get them corrected. I would also suggest using a credit monitoring service to continuously monitor the credit.
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. Consumers can request their credit report 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 listed below 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 abroad and find out in the last minute that the passport will be expiring soon or have already expired. This will help to avoid last minute disappointments and delays. If you travel to other countries that requires a visa, make sure that you have a valid visa to those frequently traveled countries.
For additional details related to the US passport please check with the “US Department of State” Website.
3. Clean-up your Desk
If you have not looked at some stuff in the past two years, it is very likely that you might not need that at 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 statements, utility bills and any other bills or statements by regular mail, create folders, sort them and file them appropriately. The best solution is to switch to online paperless billing.
Here are some good tips from Leadership Expert and best selling author John C. Maxwell on How to File “MAXWELL FUNDAMENTALS: HOW I FILE“.
4. Switch to Online Billing
If you still 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 also helps 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 was 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.
6. Back-up your Computer Files, Photos and Delete unwanted files
Sometimes our computers crash or get infected with viruses 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 so. Cloud storage companies like OneDrive, Dropbox, GoogleDrive, Amazon Cloud Drive, Evernote to name a few 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 personally use Evernote and OneDrive and found them to be very useful.
You can also buy an External hard drive and you should be able to connect it to your computer using a USB cable. You should be able to back up your data once connected. (You can choose 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 based on your needs.
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.
Check out the following resources from CNET for information on various Personal Cloud Storage options that are currently available in the market.
7. Change Your Online Passwords:
Security experts highly recommended that you change your passwords every 3-6 months. If you have not changed your passwords 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 accounts are as secure as your passwords. So choose a strong password.
Here are some good security tips on “Choosing and Protecting Passwords” from United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team.
8. Clean-up 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, Pinterest are all great tools that can help you be in touch with people who are close to you both in personal and professional life. If you are into blogging, WordPress is a great platform 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.
Tip : Feel free to Google your name to see what comes up!
10. Update your Resume
We work on various projects every year and it is a good practice to update our resume frequently or at least once a year. Take time to update your resume, if you have not updated it recently. It is always good to have an updated version of the resume.
11. Health Check-up & Gym Memberships
Being healthy is very important to lead a productive life. 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.
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 in the past 6 months. If you find it is not worth the return on your investment, cancel the membership and think about buying a home exercise equipment like a treadmill or an elliptical machine. This will enable you to 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 Reading a Habit
Charlie “Tremendous” Jones once said that “We will be the same year after year, except for the people we meet and the books we read.” Make daily reading a habit for your personal development.
I read The Holy Bible before I start my day everyday. I love to apply the Biblical principles and concepts in my daily life. I also make time to read good books by various authors that will help with my personal and professional development.
One of the best books I read this year was “Creative Followership: In the Shadow of Greatness” by Jimmy Collins. Jimmy Collins retired from Chick-fil-A, Inc. as President, Chief Operating Officer. In this book Jimmy describes his role at Chick-fil-A, Inc as the chief follower of the founder, S. Truett Cathy. Through this book he offers an inspiring message for men and women entering or redirecting their careers. This is an excellent book.
Make a list of the books that you want to read, and then set specific time slots in your daily routine to read them. You can keep your book list list in a journal or a notebook. Keep a log as you read the books. There are many good books available based on your interests and you can purchase them from various sellers online. You can also checkout your local library for many free reading resources.
Dr. Seuss said “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” So, plan to read more books in the New Year.
13. Plan Your “SMART” Goals for the New Year
SMART is a mnemonic, that can help guide you in setting your objectives and goals.
You can set goals for next year and achieve them by being realistic and by being “SMART”.
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Relevant
T – Time-bound
14. Make that Call Now!
If you did not speak to a 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 the family. Take time to let your family know that you care about them and love them. It will make a difference in their lives and as well as in your life. I am sure that you will be glad you did take time to talk to them. Remember that sometimes you may not get a second chance.
I hope that you found this information useful. Please share this post if you liked it. Feel free to share your thoughts by commenting on this post if you think of any more useful tips that can help us get better. I will be glad to hear from you.
Wish You A Happy & A Blessed New Year!