Life Maintenance Hacks for a Successful New Year

January 6, 2022

Being the first full week of the new year, it’s time to wrap up 2021 and get ready to tackle 2022. Especially since some of our normal routines and needs were neglected the last couple of years due to Covid closures and limitations. As educators, it can be easy to neglect things and focus on our student needs, but if we can take some steps to plan our behind the scenes elements in advance, we will be much better focused at work.

There are some routine tasks that can be easy to forget about (or avoid) that will really help set you up for success. I’ll break them down into categories of Phone, Computer, Paper, Transportation, Finances, Home, and Appointments so that you can focus on the areas you need, or tackle them all one step at a time, or one task a day! It may seem overwhelming, but you’ll be glad to have it set up and in place for the year.

PHONES Most of us use these on a daily basis, and some have one for work and for personal, so be sure to tackle these for both, if needed.

  • delete old voicemails (and clear the deleted folder too)
  • clear text messages
  • clear photos and videos
  • clear notes and reminders
  • uninstall unused apps
  • organize your home screen

COMPUTERS/IPADS/WORD PROCESSORS This is also something used on a daily basis and for both work and home, as well.

  • clear email inbox (respond/forward, complete, delete/file)
  • set up email folders for new year
  • archive old email folders
  • clear unneeded files and documents (Office, Google, etc.)
  • organize keepers into files
  • archive old files
  • clean off desktop
  • clear out pictures and screenshots you don’t need (or organize into folders)
  • clear internet bookmarks/favorites
  • update your internet preferences to open frequently used tabs upon start up (yes this is a thing!)
  • update digital money manager programs and generate/print any reports you may need for taxes and have them handy
  • go through your password lists or keepers and login information and clear out any you don’t need or update them

PAPER FILES Even in this techy world, many of us still have paper that crosses our path as mail, receipts, invoices, etc.

  • sort receipts to keep (for taxes, business deductions, warranties, etc.) and destroy (everything else)
  • sort paper files and invoices the same way (for example, you only need your most recent utility bill, not ALL of them)
  • shred or burn items you aren’t keeping, or drop off at a local business that provides this service. If you have a shredder, this can be an easy way for kids to earn extra money and save you time, but only if it isn’t something sensitive like work info-use your judgement!
  • organize what you ARE keeping, either in a file cabinet or box, or scan them to a digital file and organize them to find as needed.
  • Prep tax documents by putting into a folder so they are ready when it’s time to file. There are tons of checklists online, if you need one, or if you use a tax service, they usually have a printable checklist on their website
  • Update (or create) your grab file to make sure you have the most current identification, insurance and loan information, and that it is in a safe or fire resistant box. If you keep a safe deposit box or a back up off site, update that as well
  • Check your passports, identifications, registrations, memberships and certifications to see if any are coming up on an expiration and need to be tended to (if not in the next 30 days, plug a recurring reminder into your calendar 30 days out to tend to this)

TRANSPORT I use this category to include vehicles, wallets, purses, briefcases, backpacks–anything that moves around and can gather stuff.

  • Clear storage and glove box of each vehicle, toss trash, make sure you only have the most current registration and insurance information, pull out any other items that don’t need to be in there
  • Check vehicle maintenance schedules and see if any work is due (tires, fluids, brakes, etc.) and schedule anything due (if not in the next 30 days, plug a recurring reminder into your calendar 30 days out to tend to this)
  • Clear wallet/purse/backpack/briefcase and sort items that need to stay, go elsewhere, or be trashed or donated. Make repairs or replace these items if too much wear and tear on them

FINANCES Check in on your money coming in and going out.

  • evaluate/update/create budget
  • check credit card, loans, checking, savings and investments rates to ensure they are the best
  • print a copy of these and place into your tax files
  • order checks, if needed
  • close or transfer accounts and balances, as needed
  • set up autopay for bills or update autopay amounts that need changed
  • set up a check file for receipts and bills, if you don’t already have something
  • check your annual credit report (or set up a recurring reminder to do this around your birthday)

HOME There are many routine things we need to do around the house that we forget about or neglect.

  • Purge/replace electronics or appliances not being used
  • schedule maintenance for any that are not working properly or haven’t been checked lately. (Air Conditioning/Heating as well as plumbing and electrical companies often have annual inspection packages that can check for anything not running efficiently or to get ahead of issues; you can also have your electric company schedule an energy audit, or have them level your utility bills if you’ve been there for a year or more to pay the same monthly instead of fluctuating bills)
  • Evaluate drop practices or set up drop spots to avoid piles (including mail-deal with it when it comes in!
  • Purchase and prep birthday and anniversary cards in advance to mail out when ready (be sure to put the month on them so you know when to send!)
  • Clean and purge food storage areas and take inventory for what is needed and needs replaced
  • Clean and purge medicine and toiletries and take inventory for what is needed and needs replaced

APPOINTMENTS Many places are backed up right now due to staffing shortages or catching up from the last couple of years of limitations due to Covid. Planning ahead and scheduling now can save you time and headaches. Most places let you schedule a year in advance (some schedule as you are leaving the last appointment). Scheduling your vacations and time off from work will also help keep from the last minute rush or missing out if someone beats you to it. Also, make appointments with yourself and your family to check in!

  • Dentist
  • Eye doctor
  • Annual check ups for all family members (don’t forget parents, if you are a caregiver)
  • specialist appointments (massage, nail, hair, specialized medical needs)
  • Vehicle maintenance
  • home maintenance
  • licensing and recertification tests
  • identification renewals
  • vet appointments
  • birthday parties
  • vacations
  • anniversary trips/parties
  • meetings
  • clubs/organizations/extra-curriculars/church
  • special events
  • fundraisers/yard sales
  • holiday events
  • scholarship applications
  • interviews
  • taxes
  • financial advisor
  • date nights
  • family events
  • schedule time off from work for any of these as needed, or put a reminder in your calendar if they are too far out to request)

I have no doubt there are tasks or items I missed based on your specific life needs, but I hope this helps you get your year off to a great start and set you up for a successful year!

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