Before 2016 is a distant memory, take some time to review your accomplishments, challenges and general feelings about the past year. Five minutes of jotting down notes might turn into a half an hour of insightful journaling as you recall work accomplishments, travels, favorite books, inspiring films, useful new habits or meaningful relationships that enriched your year. Of course, note any missteps, losses and other funkiness too.
Next, preview 2017, writing down new habits you will adopt, goals you will achieve and other visions for the new year. Writing wishes down has a miraculous way of triggering the unconscious to notice ways to help them come true. There’s a saying, “If you can dream it, you can do it,” and I’d change that to: “Dream it, write it; do it.”
Here are some of my favorite tips, tricks and inspiration from 2016 that helped me stay organized:
1. Think of your year in weeks to plan effectively. There are 52 weeks in a year–how many weeks do you want to vacation? How many weeks are needed for continuing education? How many weeks do you need to work to make ends meet? Planning by the month is too macro and by the day is too micro.
2. My favorite book of 2016 related to organizing and accomplishing things is Tim Ferriss’s Tools for Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers. I listen to Tim’s podcast The Tim Ferriss Show, but being able to page through this greatest hits compilation of advice from his show is fantastic.
3. Turn off the phone. Nothing has impacted me more lately than the eerie dystopian habit of Americans everywhere, heads down, scrolling through their smart phones. Accomplish larger things by letting go of the mostly meaningless pings and vibrations that shred up your focus.
4. I quit Facebook. I do not miss it. In fact, I feel so much more…something. I think the word is present.
5. Delegating is sometimes necessary, but sometimes it’s easier to become your own [fill in the blank]. I have to hire myself as my own organizer all the time. I’ve had to become my own life coach. I bought an OPI nail polish curing light and now I’m my own manicurist. I can give myself a gel manicure an hour before an event if I need to, and I always need to, since my nails are a wreck from cleaning out garages and basements.
6. Wear gloves. Preventing wrecked nails is even better than being able to gel manicure them at home.
7. Always be editing. This is in reference to stuff, yes, but also other things like food and activities. If you don’t eat the cookie, you don’t have to spend time working it off later. Read Tim Ferriss’s The Four Hour Body—you can’t out exercise your poor eating choices. (And if you’re eating well, you probably don’t have to exercise as much as you think.) Edit out activities and commitments that no longer serve you—boards, book clubs, meetings, meetings, meetings.
8. Save your receipts, but then throw them away. Meaning, save a receipt if it is a tax deductible expense, which you will file with your taxes for the year. Or save a receipt if there is a chance you will return the item. Once you decide you will not be returning something, throw out the receipt. Always throw out receipts that don’t fit either of these categories. There is no reason to save them.
9. If you are shredding a big bunch of papers, don’t do it yourself. This is in contrast to Tip Number 5, “Be Your Own….” When office supply stores like Staples shreds for 99 cents a pound, why sit in front of a slow home shredder for an hour or more? Alternatively, your bank or broker might put it in their bulk shredder for free.
10. Check out the inspiring documentary Minimalism on Netflix. The movie follows minimalists and authors Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus as they tour the country talking about how they went from Wall Street-type jobs to being extreme minimalists (Ryan can carry all of his worldly possessions in two reasonably-sized shoulder bags).
Wishing you the joy that order can bring in 2017!