As the year 2016 comes to a close here are 10 suggestions that can help you to be better organized heading into the New Year.
1. Check Your Credit Report
You should check your Credit Report every year. As we hear about all the data breaches in recent times, it is a good practice to check your credit report at least once a year. I would strongly suggest using a credit monitoring service to monitor your credit at all times.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies like – 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 twelve months. You can take advantage of this offer at this time. 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 that helps consumers to obtain their free credit report. Also refer to the “Federal Trade Commission (FTC)” site for additional details.
2. Check your Driver’s License, Passport And Visa
Check your driver’s license and passport for the expiration dates. If the dates are close to expiration, plan on getting them renewed. You can check with your state’s Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office for additional details. 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. Planning ahead 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 your stuff in the past two years, it is very likely that you might not need them at all. Clear things off your desk and drawers that you don’t think you need in the future. Get rid of unwanted books, papers and magazines. Personally, if I find an article or a clipping that is worth keeping, I take a picture of it on my smartphone and it will be stored automatically on my cloud storage.
You can also 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 optimal solution is to switch to online paperless billing and shred the paper statement securely.
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. 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” that was 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 to Michael Hyatt’s article on “Creating an Annual Time Block” that I found to be very useful.
5. Back-up Your Computer Files, Documents And Photos
Computers crash or can 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. Most of us have smart phones and we do store a lot of information on our phones, including pictures and documents. Make sure you set up automatic cloud backup for your pictures and documents. I personally use “OneDrive” from Microsoft, “Evernote” and “Google Drive” and find all of them to be very useful for my multiple storage needs.
If you haven’t backed up the files on your computer lately now is the best time to do so. Cloud storage is becoming very popular and 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 an internet connection. Check with the individual sites for more information. You can also invest in buying 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. The prices of the external hard drives dropped recently so invest in buying one based on your needs.
Check out the following resources from ZDNET for information on various Personal Cloud Storage options that are currently available in the market. (You can also Google for more resources)
6. Update 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 sites, 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 “Tips for Strong, Secure Passwords & Other Authentication Tools” from ConnectSafely.org, which is a Silicon Valley, California based nonprofit organization dedicated to educating users of connected technology about safety, privacy and security.
Here is another good article from USA Today “How to create a strong password ”. At a cybersecurity summit at Stanford, President Obama got a laugh out of the crowd by pretending to let slip some of his old passwords.
7. Health Check-up And Gym Memberships
Being healthy is very important to lead a productive life. If you did not have your medical checkup’s done recently, please schedule an appointment with your doctor in order to make sure that all is well with your health. It is very important to take care of your health.
If you have a Gym membership, plan your workout strategy for the new year. Look back to see how many times you 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 well for some people.
8. 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.
Please keep the following things in mind when you interact with others on Social Media. 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 with someone you know, please pick up the phone and work on resolving the issue or send a personal message to resolve the issue quickly. Check your online profiles to make sure they are current. Many social networking sites are frequently updating their privacy policies. Check your privacy settings to make sure that you are good with them.
Tip : Feel free to Google your name to see what comes up!
9. Plan Your Reading List For The New Year
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.
Make a list of the books that you want to read in the new year, 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 or in your favorite book stores. You can also checkout your local library for 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.
10. Make That Phone Call Now
If you did not speak to your family members 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. 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 took time to talk to them. Remember, 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.