An Organized Year: A Month-by-Month Guide

by Debbie Dragon on 2 January 2013 9 comments
Photo: CMC850

Do you find yourself scrambling from one thing to the next all year, procrastinating until the last minute and running out of time? Get your act together and organize the tasks that you do every year into a month-by-month schedule. If you have a plan of action, you will be less likely to put things off or forget them, which means less stress and more success! (See also: 25 Easy Organizing Changes You Can Make Today)

January

Resolve Resolutions

Did you make a New Year’s resolution? Now is the time to get the goal “booked” on your calendar. Break the overall goal up into smaller, more manageable pieces and schedule a date for completion of each piece of your resolution on your calendar throughout the year. Seeing it on the calendar that way should help you become one of the few people who do not abandon their resolution by February!

Declutter Your Decorations

As you are packing up your holiday decorations, make sure you throw away anything that is broken, missing pieces, or no longer your style. There is no point in storing and holding on to anything you know you will not use again.

Tackle Tax Time Early

Now that the previous year has come to an end, it’s a good time to start preparing to file your income taxes. Hopefully you have kept up with your paperwork and all receipts and statements are filed neatly and orderly — but if not, don’t wait until April to start the process. If you are going to use a tax preparer to file your income taxes, you might want to start looking for an accountant now as they will start getting booked very quickly.

February

Get Ready for the Holidays

The holiday season is safely behind us at this point, but now is the ideal time to start preparing for next year’s holiday shopping. Take a look at what you spent over the holidays in the previous year and work out a monthly budget. If you spent $1,000, plan on saving about $100 a month over the next 10 months. By the time the holiday shopping season rolls around, you will have the cash on-hand, and you won’t need to rely on credit cards to make it through the season!

Review Insurance Policies

Take a close look at your insurance policies and health records. Now is a good time to get them organized and make sure you have all of the insurance you need and get rid of any policies you don’t need. It’s also a good idea to make a few phone calls or check online to make sure you are getting the best rates.

March

Change Smoke Detector Batteries

As a good way to remember to do this task, you should replace batteries in your home’s smoke and carbon monoxide detectors when you change your clocks for Daylight Savings Time.

Get Up-to-Date on Car Maintenance

Take a look at your vehicle maintenance records. When was the last time you had the oil changed? What about the brakes, windshield wipers, or other maintenance needs? Schedule service appointments as necessary to ensure your vehicle is running at its best.

April

Finish the Taxes You Started in January

It is income tax month, so pull out everything you started organizing in January and get to work. If you file your own taxes, make sure you give yourself enough time to meet the deadline. If you use a tax preparer, check in with him or her to see how the progress is going and make sure they have everything they need to file your taxes.

Inspect Your Home for Maintenance Needs

Walk around the outside of your home and check for any areas that need maintenance, repair, or updating. Schedule a yard clean-up day, and start making plans for any landscaping you want to do this season.

May

Spring Cleaning

For most of the country, May marks the beginning of warmer weather. It’s a great time to start your spring cleaning and home organizing. Clean all of the areas that tend to get neglected throughout the year. Make piles of items you no longer need — a pile to give away to charity, a pile for a yard sale, and a pile of items that need to be disposed of. Decluttering your home regularly will help keep it comfortable and maintained.

June

Turn Your Clutter Into Cash

Get rid of the clutter you collected during spring cleaning with a yard sale or garage sale, or by listing items online for sale. Most all homes have items they no longer need in them, taking up valuable space and making it harder to keep your home clean.

Plan Your Fall or Winter Vacation

Do you like to take a vacation and travel someplace warm during the winter months? Now is a good time to start planning and setting aside money for your trip. Don’t wait until December to figure out where you will take your January or February vacation.

July

New Year's Resolution Reminder

You’ve just passed the half-way mark for the year, so it’s a great time to review your resolution progress and evaluate how you are doing in relation to any goals you have set for yourself this year. Take a close look at your budget to make sure you are on track financially, reorganize yourself, and figure out what needs to change in order to achieve your goals this year. There is still time to turn things around if you have gone off track!

August

Get Ready for Back-to-School

If you have school-aged children, the beginning of August is the prime time to start gathering their required school supplies and preparing for a new school year. You’ll beat the rush of last minute back-to-school shoppers and still be able to take advantage of school supply sales.

September

Inspect Your Furnace

Has your furnace or heating source been maintained recently? Most companies recommend that your furnace or chimney be maintained at least once a year. Check to make sure your heat works now, before you need it, so when the temperatures drop you aren’t scrambling around trying to get it fixed.

Get Ready for Halloween

Do you have children who celebrate Halloween? September is the ideal time to start thinking about their costumes, especially if you like to make your own.

October

Schedule Checkups

Take a look at your schedule — when is the last time you and your family visited the dentist or doctor? If anyone is due for healthcare checkups, make sure you get the appointments scheduled. Preventative maintenance is always cheaper and easier to deal with than treating problems after they occur.

Get Your Home Ready for Winter

Start winterizing your home in preparation for the coldest months of the year. Many winterizing tasks can help save money on your utility bills.

November

Start Thanksgiving Preparations Early

As the month of November begins, start thinking about Thanksgiving. Will you host the family dinner? If so, begin meal planning and preparing your home as early as possible. Starting early gives you plenty of time to tackle everything a little at a time, rather than trying to do it all in the last few minutes. You will greatly reduce your stress level and help make the holidays more enjoyable.

Plan Vacation Days for the Upcoming Holidays

Do you like to take time off from work over the December holiday season? Take a look at your schedule and work-related tasks and see what you can start doing in advance in order to make taking time off easier. If you own your own business, you may be able to schedule some tasks in advance so they will happen automatically during the holidays, or take steps now to reduce your workload later.

December

Declutter Your Email Inbox

Is your email inbox overflowing? Take some time to unsubscribe from all the various newsletters and subscriptions you somehow joined throughout the year. I like to do this by sorting my inbox by sender, so I can see a group of emails that come from the same sender all together in a list — it makes spotting the newsletters I never even open easier! Click on the unsubscribe links and then delete all of the unread or unneeded emails from your inbox in preparation for the New Year.

Start Your NYE Planning Early

Are you hosting a New Year's Eve party? Don't wait until the 30th to start planning! The earlier you plan, the easier it will be to have a fun party and stick to a budget.

Take some time to reflect on the current year and think about anything you would like to change in the New Year. Make resolutions or goals for the upcoming year, and write them down.

What do you have planned for the upcoming year?

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Guest's picture
Barbara

I took a financial course online and it really helped me get perspective on our finances. I appreciate this schedule and it will assist me as I try to get our money matters back on track. We had strayed far off the path for awhile.

Guest's picture
Karen

I love this. Sometimes it's nice to have someone else choose what you should do. I love all thing organization.

Guest's picture

This is handy, well done. I especially appreciate the furnace inspection & smoke detector tips - should add in a chimney inspection to my scribbles too.

Guest's picture
take_flight

I have to say that I disagree with back to school in August, but not entirely. The back to school supply sales are great right before school starts, but I usually start my BTS clothes shopping at spring/summer clearance (May/June, depending on where you live). If you have younger children, their pant size and shoe size may be hard to gauge, but for shirts, hoodies, socks, underwear, etc., you can come away with alot better deals. Winter clearance is a great time for hats, gloves, scarves, etc. also.

Debbie Dragon's picture

Good idea about the clothes shopping and getting things when it is on clearance - I was thinking of notebooks and pens and those types of supplies. Thank you for your comment!

Guest's picture
Sassy

Love this and I linked back to this post and Wisebread on my blog. I hope to share each month as it begins.

Debbie Dragon's picture

Awesome! :)

Guest's picture

Great article! It will really help focus me on what needs to happen throughout the year. It's tough, we all get so excited for the new year and the initiatives that we would like to be a part of, but once we get into the trenches of the year, we start dwelling on what's urgent and long term goals fade away. Planning the year, in addition to setting goals, is the key.

Guest's picture
Katherine

I am a HUGE fan of Thanksgiving and Christmas, but I avoid shopping for gifts during those times because of flu, colds, etc. Instead, on the 25th of every month, I purchase something(s) I will need for the holidays: red gift wrap or ribbon, stickers, disp. food containers, pens, tape, clear cello bags, etc. I then put them in my "Christmas" container and have most of the things already purchased by Thanksgiving.