I always take a few days of peaceful time (or I need a few days of peaceful time) to reset myself for the new year. I’m sure everyone has their own routine — or at least should. It’s a chance to take advantage of that inherent skill we all have to pack away a year’s worth of memories into one package and file it away under “Experience”. Here is what I like to do before I go back to work at the start of each year:
- I clean up my home office environment. If you’re like me, you usually have an accumulated mess of papers of both a work and personal nature. I always have some little dust bunnies behind things and in particular, in my drawers. I dig down deep and clean them up. The more I throw away, the more I feel good about it — makes me feel clean inside. The more I can say goodbye to things, the more I close out chapters. One key thing — don’t just create a new pile somewhere else, actually go through the effort of throwing things away, recycling, whatever – the jobs not done until you do.
- I start a new notebook for work. I start a new one as I have always found it easier to organize my notes by year if I was ever looking back for something. One would think you could just write the time period on the cover or something, but starting fresh at the start of each year also helps to clear the mind. It helps to use big notebooks so they last at least the year otherwise you might only have a few pages used in the last one for the year — which is a bit of a waste.
- I go through my work notebooks for the year looking for incomplete tasks. I often go backwards as it helps me remind myself of how the year went. I look for tasks I want to bring forward to the new year and they become the first pages in the new notebook. Given this approach, the last pages I see are the first ones from last year which contain my start of year to-do list. You can quickly assess yourself to see how you did during the year. Are there a bunch of items from the start of year list undone — do I now have 6 pages of items carrying forward? It’s surprising how revealing this is.
- I clean up my email inbox — i never actually do this enough. I am an email horder, so email organization is important. I start a new Outlook PST file each year and use it to store a copy of my entire inbox from the year as well as the emails sent. I also file away active business folders for all the companies or projects I work with. The side benefit of doing this is my PST file never gets soooo big that Outlook starts to have problems with it — Microsoft still has not solved this issue well from what i can tell. I’ve met my inbox goal if it all fits on one page again — oh BTW, i often have a few carry forward to-do items from this exercise.
- I make sure my computer environment is properly backed up. I take my CD’s off site (just in case). I invested in a blue-ray writer so I can pack a lot onto one CD — important if you accumulate a lot of useless photos and home movies that you never go back to. I think last year’s collection of family media was about 25GB!
The last thing i typically do is make a whole bunch of promises to myself about how next year will be better than the previous. Resolutions that reflect my forced reflection of the whole year that came from the above 5 items. I’m like everyone, i often break them early on — but there is always next year!
PS: Forgot to mention:
- what to do with those unread magazines (probably should start considering on-line magazines instead)
- the pile building up at the shredder — no time to sit there and watch them growth through
- the unused clothes in the closet that once again did not get used this year (we try to be good about donating them a few times a year, but there is always some)
Anyway — a new year is fast approaching — i’m on the job again with a fixer-upper (my 3rd). I thought i would mostly be golfing. It’s starting to turn around and take some steps forward — perhaps I can get it on the Profit 50 list in a year or two — fast growth, here we come!