Tuesday, January 9, 2018

{7} Things to Start the Year Organized!

It's a new year!  lots of possibility.  I say it all of January, every year, but I LOVE this fresh start feeling.  That it's a great time to start new habits, routines; that I could completely change my life in the next 12 months.


That's not likely.  BUT I can start the year organized, out with the old, in with the new.  At least in some regard.  I love organizing and my mind is nearly constantly working on way to improve our space and routines.  These are the things I'm doing in January to close up 2017 and get 2018 started on the right path!

1) Christmas Thank Yous

Writing thank yous was something my parents really emphasized from about the time we could write.  We wrote thank yous for birthdays, Christmas, graduation gifts, pretty much everything (and yet it took me DECADES to think about writing one to them...).  I've kept that up and do this pretty soon after Christmas.  This year I had Luke write THANK YOU _(person)_  for his, which was a struggle but he did it.  And then dictated to me what he wanted me to write on the back.  Which I found hilarious.  Then I wrote mine as well.  Why not start the year with a little bit of gratitude? 
Time: about 1 hour (most of that spent helping Luke write his).

2) Write Calendar Dates

My aunt has been doing a family photo calendar for many years, with all of those birthdays and anniversaries.  So I start with a whole bunch of dates already filled in for me.  But then I go through and add birthdays for Matt's family (just another 50 some people...) and some friends.  Add in appointments and meetings already scheduled in the new year.  I can do this while watching tv typically, and I find it refreshing to start with a mostly blank calendar after the busy of December!
Time: 30 minutes

3) Address Cards
I haven't done this one yet but it's on my list for this week.  I wrote a whole post two years ago about my process, the short version:  I make a master list, go to the dollar store and buy a whole bunch of cards, and then get them all addressed in January.  Then on the 1st of each month I add a stamp to the cards for the month and add a note right before sending.  Makes it about 100% more likely I'll actually send out cards!  And, again, most of the work can be done while watching Netflix!
Time: 2 hours, including making list, going to the store, picking out cards, and addressing.

4) Finish Photobooks

I'm a huge photobook convert and have also written posts about my process for that (here, here).  I do our family yearbook over a calendar year and then wrap it up in January so it's all ready to order when the appropriate sale comes up.  I update these most weeks through the year so in January it's mostly finishing up Christmas/December doing an edit, consolidating or spreading out pages as needed.
Time: About 4 hours to finalize (good time to catch up on podcasts!)

5) Adjust the Budget
I keep a budget although how strict we are at sticking to our categories is kinda ehhhhhhh.  Depending on the category.  In late December/early January I'll go through what we spent for the current/previous year and adjust categories as needed.  Matt and I talk through planned projects for the year, how much we think they will cost (and then add 50%, because we ALWAYS underestimate).  This might be allocating more funds to our "garden/yard" line when we plan to work on Luke's swing set or to "home improvements" when we plan to redrywall a room.  Things will always happen (looking at you, new couch, and car with a failed transmission) but it's at least a starting point.
Time: About 90 minutes, including talking to Matt about projects

6) Prep Taxes
I aim to file our tax return in January.  We typically get money back (thanks, adoption credit!) and I want that money.  Also, I like checking it off my to-do.  So while we wait for W-2s and 1099s, I'll go through our itemized deductions, filling in my spreadsheet with what I know.  Like how much we paid in property taxes, donated to charity, and paid in auto excise (although, those I fill in my Excel worksheet when we actually pay them in the spring).  We haven't itemized in YEARS (thanks to this) but I still fill it all in, just to double check.  I like to have things mostly done when we get our W-2s and 1099s.  Filing is easy when everything is ready to go!
Time: about 45 minutes to prep 

7) Plan Vacations
With Matt's job, he's somewhat limited in when he can take time off, since they always need coverage for patients.  So when he gets the vacation calendar to request his time off, I like to be prepared.  On January 1st this year, probably weeks before he'll actually get the calendar, I was telling him what two weeks I want him to ask off to start.  Then within a week or two I'll have additional days for him to request, basically planning our whole vacation and lake schedule in January.  Because I like to plan.   A lot.  And also, we're going to NYC again in the spring so I need to get that trip booked ASAP (Statue of Liberty tickets already purchased!).
Time: about 20 minutes

None of these take real long, many can be done in front of the tv, and all leave me feeling like I'm starting the new year on the right foot!  What do YOU do to feel you are starting the year right? 


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