With the New Year quickly approaching, it can seem like 2018 is flying by faster and faster. And with the holidays and New Year so close together, it can feel completely overwhelming to try to prepare for the holidays, while simultaneously set yourself up for the New Year.
I for one, definitely feel this struggle. I want to enjoy the holidays with my friends and family, but I also want to finish up and tie up all those loose ends from 2018. And let’s be honest, as early as I do start my Christmas shopping, I always have a few outstanding things that either come unexpectedly, or are super delayed and I need to figure out a back-up plan (thank you Canada Post strike).
So instead of lying to myself that I will achieve this huge list of tasks in the last couple of weeks of 2018, I’m breaking it down to mini-tasks that will help me get a head start without taking away from holiday fun with my friends and family. Oh and just to top it all off, two of my best friends and my boyfriend also have their birthdays in December so it’s a continuous month of celebrations for me. I’m not complaining, I love this season, but it can get very overwhelming, very quickly. Between the present wrapping and the goal-setting, time is precious and limited. And the motto I’ve taken on when it comes to this is:
“Done is better than perfect.”
I know myself and if I wait until I have everything perfectly planned and organized, I’ll never do it. There’s definitely a time and place to be organized and planned like when it comes to organizing my home or making a big purchase, but those are really the items usually do have a deadline on them. Right now, I know I just need to get things done.
So these are my strategies of how to get your 2018 life together with 1 hour (or less) tasks.
Let’s fake our way through 2019.
1. Write Down Everything You’ve Accomplished (Approx. 15-20 minutes)
To start off with some momentum, take some time to reflect on all of the things you’ve accomplished in 2018. It doesn’t have to be a perfect chronological or ranked list, and it doesn’t have to be a list of your big, grand accomplishments, it can just be small wins throughout the year and this will reflect on the New Year. It may seem simple, but through the chaos, we all need a quick win.
2. Back Up Photos, Important Files, And My Phone (approx. 15 minutes to 1 Hour)
As someone who takes an obscene amount of photos, you’d think I’d be better at clearing out the useless screenshots that I only needed for an hour or delete some of the many versions of the same photo just in different lighting. The fact that I feel the need to hold onto 10 photos with differences only noticeable to me is probably some deep seeded insecurity issue, but I’ll deal with that at another time.
I am the first to admit that I am absolutely terrible at backing up photos, files, or having any kind of organization system on my desktop. It’s literally filled with files that have gibberish names like “Screenshot-4562853.” This is definitely a task I want to get better at but truthfully, it’s hard because I have to think about what kind of system I need and going through a million photos can be very overwhelming. So here’s a shortcut if you don’t have the time to organize everything perfectly: just make sure it’s backed up.
Not only for the space (I’m one of those people that have to delete an app to download a new one), but for the physical safety of that file. I had my phone crash last year, and thankfully I had backed it up a couple months before so I didn’t lose the majority of my photos, only a few weeks’ worth, but still, it was devastating. So if you can’t have the perfect organization system, make sure all of your important photos and files are properly backed up.
While there are many options like Dropbox or Apple Cloud Storage, my favourite app is actually Google Photos. You literally just download it on your phone, press back up, and then you’re done. Best of all, Google has a “Clear Space” option so after your photo is backed up, you have the option of having Google mass delete your photos from your phone instead of having to do it yourself. All of your photos are still safely backed up onto Google and accessible from the App so it saves TONS of space. It literally takes 5 mins to download and set up the app and from there – you just let it do its thang.
For files, I use a similar system with Google Drive. Drop it in, back it up.
Lastly, if you’re like me and like two back up areas, I also have a physical external hard drive I back up files and photos too. Either way, if you do not have the time to individually go through every single photo and file, make sure it’s at least backed up so you don’t lose every memory you made in 2018. Depending on your internet speed, this can take a while, but I just throw it in the background while I’m cooking or watching Netflix and before I know it, everything is backed up.
Pro Tip: If you do want to have a bit of organization, quickly create folders that can be based on date or event. I also learned recently that I can mass name files on my MacBook by right clicking on the photos I want to name, and then choosing rename all. It automatically renames the file to “File-Name(1)”, “File-Name(2),” etc. I do this for my blog and while it’s not a perfect system, it works pretty damn well.
3. Organize Your Clutter (Approx. 1 Hour)
Now, you may be reading this and thinking “it definitely takes an hour to declutter an entire home” and you’re right. There’s a reason that organizing is a professional category all in itself but not having the time to do a perfect job is not reason not to do it all or at least get started. So take one hour and go through your home and declutter the things you know you shouldn’t keep. You don’t have to ask it if it brings you joy, you can just ask yourself do I need it/have I touched this in the last year? If the answer is no, then out it goes.
I actually have two garbage bags that I add to throughout the year to help me with this. If I don’t think I’ll use something or decide it’s no longer for me, I add it to the bag. And by the end of the year, if it’s still there and I’ve completely forgotten what items were in there, I donate it or get rid of it.
While there’s definitely a process to decluttering, I’m also the type of person to get lazy if I feel overwhelmed. So I just give myself one hour to do as much as possible, and then it becomes like the countdown timer on my microwave. Once I have a set amount of time, I want to do as much as possible and so setting a timer for decluttering just helps me commit to getting rid of that excess clutter.
This is particularly needed for me because I have a lot of scrap wood/metal that I need to take to the recycling. So while I may not be re-organizing everything, I’m getting rid of a good chunk of it to help make the decluttering process that much easier when I’m ready.
4. Review The Year’s Budget (Approximately 30 minutes)
This will probably vary depending on how many credit cards and bank accounts you have, but considering I don’t have a ton, it isn’t too bad. Take a minute to go through and look at all of your final credit card, bank and any other outstanding balances. More so, review your budgets for the past year. Don’t have a budget – here’s some help!
At the end of this year have some solid numbers you can take away from this exercise for the following account:
Total Chequing Balance
Emergency Fund Balance
Other Saving Goals
Finally, figure out your net worth by adding all of your assets and deducting your debt. Have a solid take away number. Not only is it good to have a clear picture of what your financial state is currently, it will be the foundation on which you build a savings plan on for the next year. If you need some help figuring it, here is a great post on it but it’s essentially:
Assets – Debt/Liabilities = Net Worth.
5. Schedule Out Time To Follow Through (Approximately 1 Hour)
As you may have noticed, these items were “quick” solutions to tackling big problems, but my last task is to fully follow through on them, even into the New Year. I’ve learned throughout the years that while I truly enjoy the motivational push of the New Year, I don’t have to be limited by a date. Just because I didn’t have everything fully together by December 31st does not make them any less accomplish-able. What’s most important is that they get done. And while these tasks will all take more than an hour, take some time to schedule in these days. Block off this time in your calendar, no exceptions. I’ve given some dates if you need recommendations or want to know what I’m doing.
1. Use your accomplishments list to set out goals for the New Year.
Look at all the things you accomplished this year and see what you missed or wished to accomplish in 2019. Start making mini-goals to achieve for your end of your list in 2019 going into 2020. This will most likely be most desirable to do on January 1st (I have the day off with no plans so works for me!) but is best done at the beginning. The goals that you choose don’t necessarily have to be set in stone, but really take time to think about what matters to you for 2019 and take advantage of that “New Year, New Me” vibe with your friends posting inspirational quotes.
2. Get Your Digital Life Together
With all of your most important photos and files already safely backed up, start getting cut throat in what you are keeping on your everyday laptop and phone. If you need to go through those vacation photos from a few years ago, they are still in your Google Photos, but take them out of the precious space on your phone so you don’t have to delete apps to take more photos.
Organize your files so it’s easy to find important documents on your computer. Where are all your job applications, resumes, and cover letters saved? Are they clearly labelled and easy to access if looking for a new job is something you want for 2019? Start preparing yourself to enter 2019 with your digital ducks in a row. Block off a Wednesday or Thursday night (like January 2nd or 3rd!) and commit to those files.
3. Declutter Your Wardrobe And Organize Your Life
Find days in January where you do not have any plans (let’s face it, unless you have birthday celebrations, there’s not much happening in January), and plan a declutter day and an organization day. On your Declutter Day, take the time to thoroughly go everything in your wardrobe and home and create a donate, keep, and get rid of pile. Be brutal and if you need some help, read (or listen) to Marie Kondo’s book on The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. This woman doesn’t exaggerate, its life changing.
Next, set up an organization day. If you have the luxury of booking off a whole weekend, it’s probably best to do it back to back, but I know myself and I can’t dedicate a whole weekend because I’ll get tired and overwhelmed by Day 2. Plus I’ll feel resentful and resist if I can’t spend time with my friends and family and can’t prep for the week (I still need to eat and have clean clothes).
So after your Declutter Day, choose a day on the following weekend to do an Organization Day. During that week, think about how you would like to organize your space and start buying the organization bins or planning the moving of furniture, etc. and get organizing those areas into a system that works for you.
If you don’t want to think of a date, I’ll decide for you.
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Okay, so unless you have plans, those are the dates to mark in your calendar. This may sound harsh but those are my dates too as of right now because I need that kind of push.
4. Set Clear Financial Goals For The Year
After doing your review of your finances, set a date do a full on audit and set up your financial goals for 2019. Did you meet your savings goals in 2018? Why or why not? Did you overspend on certain areas or do you have a target you want to hit for student loans? Also, do you have vacation planned for 2019? What will the budget look like? Are there some side hustles you are looking into?
These are all things you need to address to set yourself up your best financial self. You don’t have to have the perfect financial plan because no one can foresee everything but set up some super high priority financial goals for yourself. To get you started, here some of mine:
- Do A Full Audit for 2018 – I’m working on this as an article to go up in January since it will account for all of my 2018 spending up until Dec 31st.
- Save At Least $5000 for Planned Vacations Next Year – One of which is already booked. I’m going to Peru to hike Machu Picchu in April – Inca Trail here I come!
- Invest $1000 More Into Mutual Funds – And subsequently lessen my investments in the stock market because I’m tanking.
Take a day after work to either heat up some leftovers or order in your favourite take out to go through and truly think about your financial plan for 2019. I realize that heating up leftovers doesn’t sound as appetizing, but I always freeze some of my favourite homemade soups that t are really soul-warming to me. Either way, cuddle up on with our heated blanket (if you don’t have one, I highly recommend), light a candle, and start kicking some budget butt. Let’s do Thursday January 10th?
Lastly, I hope these were helpful and hope it inspires you to get a head start on the New Year too! I know the New Year, “fresh start’ idea can be accompanied by an eye-roll because for many people, it’s a time of false starts. I truly believe that change can be made at any time of the year, but just like any other holiday, I think it’s a great reminder for us to cross off those to dos.
To a new and productive year,