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!

Summer Reset Series – Part 2 The Home


July 15, 2021

Last week I shared with you some tips to reset your classroom by purging items so you can be more efficient, so this week I wanted to share some tips to do something similar with your home. Wait! Before you close this, hear me out. By purging your home in at least a few key areas and making it more efficient in areas you touch daily, your schedule will be more efficient, making your days smoother when you are juggling work and home life. Don’t worry, we are not clearing your home of everything!

Still with me? Great!

So, let’s break it down by areas of our home so you can focus on those you need and skip those that you don’t, or don’t apply!

BEDROOM Starting here is vital since this is your sanctuary and place of rest and rejuvenation! The key in this space is to remove things that don’t bring you peace or make you feel relaxed. Eliminating clutter from surfaces will help your brain turn off, so find a place to tuck away those as many of those things on display as you can. Some experts say to even remove electronics from your sleeping area, but some of us like to curl up and watch shows before bed, so it’s up to you!

BATHROOM/DRESSING AREA I like sleep, or at least being lazy in the mornings, which means I wait until the last possible minute to get moving. It has helped me immensely to purge grooming products to only what I need (I even gave up make up to save myself 15 minutes!) so my morning routine takes me 10 minutes or less. Likewise, I keep my wardrobe super simple and rotate things out each month so it’s easy for me to get dressed in the morning. If you want to learn more about this, check out my post from a few weeks ago here and see how I live like I am on vacation.

LIVING SPACES Just like your bedroom, this is a place you use to unwind. If you come home from a crazy day and are greeted by clutter, piles, or a lot of visual stimulation, it can be overwhelming. Go through those stacks of books and magazines and create a home for those that you are waiting to read and pass on those that you are done with! Keep only pillows and blankets out that you use daily or tuck them away and grab them out when needed. Decluttering surfaces can be helpful here, too, since it won’t overwhelm you when relaxing and makes cleaning faster–when you can get to it!

KITCHEN/EATING AREAS These areas are used multiple times a day and often get the most use, so it makes sense that this is where everything gets dropped…and gets cluttered. Make sure you have the cooking items you use regularly readily available. Those items that are less frequently used can be stored in an out of reach shelf or cabinet, or boxed to find when you need it. If you don’t use it, pass it on! Next, take a few minutes each week to meal plan and do the shopping. There are many methods for doing this. In our house, I have a dry erase board calendar that we meal plan on and one for our shopping list. I splurged and use Instacart so once a week, I put in our grocery order and they are delivered within 2 hours. Coincidentally, this is also the time use to clean the house, so it all gets done at once! Since mail can be a huge clutter in this area, sort it as it comes in. I have a shredder for junk, an outgoing mail clip by my door, and a paper weight for bills that I clear out weekly (or biweekly, if it’s crazy times!).

WORKSPACE If you work from home, or have a home office you use for planning, grading, etc., this space can also get cluttered. That clutter can make us dread getting things done, so plan ahead for it. Sort through all your papers and items that are in the space, leaving only what you need on your desk surface, and have a place to put things you need to work on so you will know when they are on your TO DO list, or when they are a TADA item and done! Bookshelves can easily overflow, so make sure that what is on it is something you use at least once a year, can’t find online, isn’t outdated, or needs to be kept. Then just make sure they are organized in a way that works for you. I’m a bookworm, so ours has non-fiction on one shelf, then a fiction shelf for each of us. If we run out of room, something has to go, which makes it simple to decide what comes and goes.

STORAGE Whether you have a garage, carport, large closet or shed, you keep tools and supplies for your home, hobbies and possibly your vehicle. When you need them, you don’t want to have to search, or worse, go buy more since you can’t find them. So clearing extras, trash or what you don’t need (like those wiper blades from a car you haven’t owned for 5 years) you will be able to find what you do need quickly and easily. Organizing it into zones will help, too, and make it easier when you have time to go back and better organize it! And if it’s a garage–maybe you can park your car IN it, making life easier for coming and going!

CHORES Now that things have been decluttered and your home should be slightly less overwhelming, you can create a routine to keep up with everything. Some things will need done daily, some weekly, and others either as needed, or less frequently. If there are others that live in your home, this can be a great thing to meet and talk about and divvy up those tasks. Even little kids can do somethings, like a quick daily sweep, putting toys away, or gathering laundry. Dishes and cooking need done daily, so someone can take charge of that or you can rotate! Assigning weekly chores that can be done on a designated day as a family can help, but if that’s not possible in your busy household, try assigning at random around someone’s schedule, or better yet, assign everyone a room (in addition to their own room) and then you won’t have to worry about waiting for others to get your chore done. We also do a daily reset before bed to put away things like toys, blankets, things that came out and got used during the day, so that we can start our busy morning with a clean space. Sometimes, it doesn’t happen, but most days it does. And my rule with my little? If it’s out after he goes to bed, it’s mine to do with as I please. This tends to get things put away frequently!

See, that wasn’t so bad, was it? It may take some time to get each of these areas to a place that helps you, and you may have to do a reset every so often. In our home, we have crazy weeks of meetings, work schedules, appointments, or the weeks after a vacation that turn us upside down. Then we make the time to do a reset so we can get back on track when we get an hour or so.

Good luck to you! Be sure to like this post by clicking on the star if you like the idea of creating a relaxing home space, and comment below with your trouble areas–let’s work together to solve them! I’d love to see those before and after photos, so use the hashtag #A2THomePurge and post them on social media so I can check them out!

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