Eight year-end tasks to keep you organized

The presents have been unwrapped, turkey leftovers fill the refrigerator, and we’re back at our desks finishing year-end responsibilities. Whether at work or at home, there are tasks that we complete before December 31 that help to keep us organized in the new year.

Even though it’s difficult to get back to work after a few days vacation, the last week of the year can often be extremely productive because so few people are in the office. There usually are fewer disruptions and it’s easier to work for longer blocks of time. If you’re taking time off from work, now is also a good time to focus on year-end responsibilities at home.

The following are tasks we complete at the end of the year, but you might tackle different tasks to wrap up 2010 and prepare for 2011. Share your end-of-the-year processes in the comments, as they might be something we all should be doing, too:

At Work:

  • Year-end fiscal reports. Pay all bills, submit all receipts, reconcile all accounts, and complete all fiscal reports the accounting department requires.
  • Year-end professional goal reports. Review annual goals and accomplishments, and write performance reports the human resources department requires.
  • Review benefit package and changes. Many changes in insurance plans and other benefits occur at the change of the calendar year. Make note of these changes so you aren’t surprised by the differences.

At Home:

  • Reconcile financial accounts. Now is the time to get all of your financial paperwork for the year completed so you’re ready to file your taxes when your forms arrive.
  • Year-end personal goal and resolution review. Review all you accomplished over the course of the year and create goals and resolutions for 2011.
  • Back-up all digital data. Even if you do this daily, it’s good to take a final snapshot of the digital year.
  • Review beneficiary information on all investments and policies. If your family has grown or changed in the last year, now is the time to make sure your beneficiary information is current. Additionally, it’s a good time to do a general review of these investments and policies.
  • Review systems and routines. Are the systems and routines you follow meeting your family’s and home’s needs? If not, now is a good time to create new practices to implement in the new year.

17 Comments for “Eight year-end tasks to keep you organized”

  1. posted by Thekla Richter on

    Make sure your filing is caught up, your physical workspace is uncluttered and visually pleasing to you, and your email inbox squeaky clean are also great – though ideally that stuff is regularly maintained, right?

    Work on a creative project that is best done in long, uninterrupted stints. When things pick up in the new year long chunks of time might be harder to come by as everyone tries to make up for having been on vacation, so it’s good to actively get ahead on projects that are best done uninterrupted.

  2. posted by Julie Subotky on

    Home or office: Re-do files. I like to get a box for all files not currently needed – fill it up and store it somewhere out of the way. Then, I make new folders and have my current files ready for the new year. It helps to keep my current working space clutter free – plus everything from previous years is neatly tucked away and in one place when I need it at tax time (or whenever!)

    ALSO – I find that it’s a good time to make sure I’ve done my photos albums for the year. Even if you keep digital photos – take the time to make online albums or print copies of the pictures so it’s not overwhelming and confusing years down the road.

  3. posted by Keter on

    Archive project files! This week will be an orgy of cleaning out all of my “completed” project files and copying them OFF my computer and organizing it for use next year.

    This year, I have 6 months of BlogTalkRadio shows to archive as well, so that’s going to take a CD or two. BTW, don’t count on CDs/DVDs for long-term storage…always maintain a couple of live backups on different types of media for files you absolutely must not lose. Save a copy offsite, too, such as in Dropbox.

  4. posted by Living the Balanced Life on

    Doing my own year-end personal review. Looking at what was accomplished this year, what I learned, and what I want to accomplish next year.

  5. posted by Zen friend on

    Two other things come to mind as the end of the year approaches:
    Any year-end donations to favorite charities.
    As you “put away Christmas,” keep an eye out for any items that should be donated as well

    Purchase and fill out important information in daily planner for 2011.

  6. posted by Susan in FL on

    Just a reminder for all of those who still file their income taxes on paper – the IRS is not automatically mailing booklets of forms and instructions to tax filers in 2011. You will have to obtain your forms online, at your local post office or at the IRS office nearest to you

  7. posted by Rebecca on

    In WI all public libraries also have the IRS forms free for you to take.

  8. posted by Ruth on

    Christmas dinner was particularly successful this year, so I just sat down and recorded all the details in my menu folder — the brand of ham, how I cooked it, and any changes to recipes for the side dishes and dessert. Right now it seems like I won’t ever forget these things, but you can bet that next year when I’m making plans I will be glad I wrote this stuff down.

  9. posted by Joshua Banker on

    Thanks for this list. It definitely gets me thinking.

    In the past this time of the year there are a lot of people on vacation at my work and usually I have a lot less work to do myself. I typically take advantage of this time to come up with something creative and my goal is to come up with some major change that will benefit the company I work for. Today was about coming up with the idea and the rest of the week will be finding ways to implement the idea so when my supervisor and co-workers come back I will have the idea fully fleshed out and ready to present. I enjoy my job but these weeks where I am given the freedom to re-think the way the company does things and then see the ideas implemented is a lot of fun. Also this time of the year where between Christmas to New Years can be easily wasted it is nice to do something different.

  10. posted by Elizabeth Densmore on

    Remember to recycle or shred paper, magazines, reports, etc. that are no longer necessary. It keeps clutter down and easier to locate documents. It is also amazing how it keeps your mind uncluttered.

  11. posted by Damon-Eugene Rich on

    Think about it, professional project managers get a whole phase in the project lifecycle called “Close Out!” Besides the mental, spiritual, and physical looking back and goaling forward. Determining what to close up for the year sounds infinitely freeing. What projects or goals do I need to tie a bow on and call done? I’ll have to look around the living room…

    But I am the Patron Saint of Abused Post-It Notes. I keep a drawing journal as an artist, and I tape all sorts of post-its in my drawing books and journals. They look the same and feel the same as the time of inspiration because of doodling or handwriting. Also I just started enveloping them. For example, I participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo.org) yearly, so I often get novel ideas within the year which find themselves on post-its. I now gather them up, put them in an envelope, labeled it, ‘to be opened November 1, 2010 NaNoWriMo.’

  12. posted by Danielle on

    thanks, Erin! This was the inspiration I needed to back up all my University papers and pictures onto discs. DONE and DONE! Now if my awful 4 year old computer dies, I won’t be in tears. Thanks for inspiring me to skip the stress.

  13. posted by ecuadoriana on

    @ Damon-Eugene Rich- Wow! I thought I was the only one who uses post it notes like mini sketch book pages! I am forever doodling ideas (both word & picture) on 3 x 3 size post it notes. I used to have tons of little paper scraps taped in my journals which I would inevitably lose before getting to the taping part. Then I discovered post it notes! Pink for foto ideas, yellow is for writing, blue for film making ideas, green is for random things that pop into my head that I want to save to think about later. Later I am able to put them into the correct journal or notebook by color. My ideas on millions of bits of scrap paper was so bad! Talk about clutter!

    Recently I loaned a book to a friend. She called me to say that the book had “these little bits of paper with scribbles on them” and should she toss them or return them with the book. They were ideas for my daughter’s 3rd birthday party. I wondered where I had misplaced them. My daughter is now 28 years old! That’s how long those scraps had sat between the pages of that book- 25 years! Yikes! So it’s post it notes for me!

  14. posted by Daniel on

    Good advice. I’m doing the digital backup now!

  15. posted by Derek on

    I like to pull out all the year’s worth of files for bills, paystubs and tax information and put it all in to a single expandable file. That clears a lot of space out of our file cabinet, but also puts everything relevant for that entire year in one place.

  16. posted by Bryan on

    Practice writing 2011 — while in a new year our mind may be still stuck in 2010

  17. posted by Kim Price on

    Someone mentioned entering important dates in your 2011 planner, but I recommend setting those dates too. It is a good time to sit down with your spouse or family and coordinate your year. Decide when you will take that anniversary trip and request/schedule the time off work. Nail down the dates of this summer’s family reunion or make reservations for a planned camping trip.

    Scheduling the rest of the year will be a lot easier when you can let the smaller stuff just fall into place around the priority dates, instead of trying to juggle the small stuff around tentative dates.

    Additionally, I use Evernote to remember and document everything and this is the time of year I go through and clean it up. I make sure everything is assigned a notebook and make any adjustments to notebooks and tags that are needed. I also go through and organize outdated information. When I am sure I am finished with a piece of information, instead of deleting it (with Evernote there is no reason to and it is amazing how many things I am done with, I end up needing again), I tag it “Archive” and exclude items with those tags from any searches.

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