Every year, I spend time in January and February getting organized and ready for the upcoming year. My organizing actually starts during the holidays--with every present I receive, I'm thinking "Out with the old and in with the new." When I receive a gift, I have to decide what old item I'm going to get rid of. This year, after putting away the new china I got for Christmas--and selling my former set on eBay--I moved on to organizing my office. If you'd like to get the new year started right, follow these tips to help you get organized for a successful 2006:
1. Clean, organize and purge your desk. Update your files and replace all torn files. Buy new files, in different colors, and organize them by color: green for financial papers, purple for clients and so on. Be sure to label all the files, and then organize them alphabetically within each color scheme. And never, ever put the word "Misc" on any file--once you file it, you'll forget what you put in it. If you can say out loud what the file is, you have your label.
2. Be like Santa every day of the week. Make a list and check it twice. There's nothing more satisfying than checking things off your "to do" list! Make a list every night of all the things you need to accomplish the next day. Do this every night, including the weekends, so you get in the habit of relying on your to-do list to help you get things done.
3. Use only one calendar. Choose the one that works best for you: one on your computer, a handheld one like a PDA, or a paper one on your desk. Then get rid of all your other calendars and use just the one to record and keep track of everything. If you're maintaining more than one person's schedule, like your children's, use different colored inks to record information for each family member.
4. Make a note on your calendar, one week ahead of any event, about what you need to do for that event. Do you need to buy wine to bring to a housewarming party? Do you need to send flowers for your mother's birthday? Whatever it is, make a note of it in advance so you can stay of top of your tasks.
5. Make a list of your goals. Write down at least 10 goals you want to accomplish in your lifetime. Be specific. Then put the list away and update it again next year.
6. Choose one or two goals you want to accomplish this year with your business. Maybe it's to make more money or to land more clients. How will you accomplish that goal? What amount of money will you make this year? How will you do it? Type that information out in a clear sentence, put by your bedside, and read it every morning and every night to help inspire you to reach your goals.
7. Get rid of any office supplies you haven't used in the past year. Return them to the store for credit or donate them to your favorite charity. The less clutter there is in your office, the more happiness there'll be in your life. If you buy a new printer, donate the old one. You don't need two printers--the old one is just taking up space. This goes for everything in your office.
8. Start planning now for the next tax year. Label a box "Next Year's Taxes," and put it in your office. This box will hold all your tax-related documents throughout the year: bank statements, receipts for business expenses, online statements indicating what bills you paid and charity receipts. At the end of the year, remove the contents from the box and make two piles--business and personal--for your accountant (or for yourself, if you do your own taxes). The box will be the one place you put everything that has anything to do with your taxes. It sure beats searching for the paperwork at the end of the year.
9. Update your rolodex. Clear out all the cards of people you never called last year. I can tell you that if a year goes by and you haven't contacted them, chances are, you'll never call them. If you feel you need to keep the information, put all the "maybe I'll call them one of these days" cards in a file and label it that.
10. Feng Shui your desk and surroundings. If it's good enough for Donald Trump, it's good enough for you!
Leslie Jacobs is the owner of Les Is More, a personal organizing business based in New Britain, Connecticut.