living proactively en-US An Organized Year: A Month-by-Month Guide <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/an-organized-year-a-month-by-month-guide" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src=" calendar istock.jpg" alt="Marking dates on a calendar." title="Marking dates on a calendar." class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>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: <a href="">25 Easy Organizing Changes You&nbsp;Can Make Today</a>)</p> <h2>January</h2> <p><b>Resolve Resolutions</b></p> <p>Did you make a New Year&rsquo;s resolution? Now is the time to get the goal &ldquo;booked&rdquo; 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!</p> <p><b>Declutter Your Decorations</b></p> <p>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.</p> <p><b>Tackle Tax Time Early</b></p> <p>Now that the previous year has come to an end, it&rsquo;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 &mdash; but if not, don&rsquo;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.</p> <h2>February</h2> <p><b>Get Ready for the Holidays</b></p> <p>The holiday season is safely behind us at this point, but now is the ideal time to start preparing for next year&rsquo;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&rsquo;t need to rely on credit cards to make it through the season!</p> <p><b>Review Insurance Policies</b></p> <p>Take a close look at your <a href="" target="_blank">insurance policies</a> 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&rsquo;t need. It&rsquo;s also a good idea to make a few phone calls or check online to make sure you are getting the best rates.</p> <h2>March</h2> <p><b>Change Smoke Detector Batteries</b></p> <p>As a good way to remember to do this task, you should replace batteries in your home&rsquo;s smoke and carbon monoxide detectors when you change your clocks for Daylight Savings Time.</p> <p><b>Get Up-to-Date on Car Maintenance</b></p> <p>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.</p> <h2>April</h2> <p><b>Finish the Taxes You Started in January</b></p> <p>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.</p> <p><b>Inspect Your Home for Maintenance Needs</b></p> <p>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.</p> <h2>May</h2> <p><b>Spring Cleaning</b></p> <p>For most of the country, May marks the beginning of warmer weather. It&rsquo;s a great time to start your <a href="" target="_blank">spring cleaning</a> and home organizing. Clean all of the areas that tend to get neglected throughout the year. Make piles of items you no longer need &mdash; 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.</p> <h2>June</h2> <p><b>Turn Your Clutter Into Cash</b></p> <p>Get rid of the clutter you collected during spring cleaning with a yard sale or <a href="" target="_blank">garage sale</a>, 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.</p> <p><b>Plan Your Fall or Winter Vacation</b></p> <p>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&rsquo;t wait until December to figure out where you will take your January or February vacation.</p> <h2>July</h2> <p><b>New Year's Resolution Reminder</b></p> <p>You&rsquo;ve just passed the half-way mark for the year, so it&rsquo;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!</p> <h2>August</h2> <p><b>Get Ready for Back-to-School</b></p> <p>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&rsquo;ll beat the rush of last minute back-to-school shoppers and still be able to take advantage of <a href="" target="_blank">school supply sales</a>.</p> <h2>September</h2> <p><b>Inspect Your Furnace</b></p> <p>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&rsquo;t scrambling around trying to get it fixed.</p> <p><b>Get Ready for Halloween</b></p> <p>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.</p> <h2>October</h2> <p><b>Schedule Checkups</b></p> <p>Take a look at your schedule &mdash; 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.</p> <p><b>Get Your Home Ready for Winter</b></p> <p>Start <a href="">winterizing your home</a> in preparation for the coldest months of the year. Many winterizing tasks can help save money on your utility bills.</p> <h2>November</h2> <p><b>Start Thanksgiving Preparations Early</b></p> <p>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.</p> <p><b>Plan Vacation Days for the Upcoming Holidays</b></p> <p>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.</p> <h2>December</h2> <p><b>Declutter Your Email Inbox</b></p> <p>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 &mdash; 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.</p> <p><b>Start Your NYE Planning Early</b></p> <p>Are you hosting a <a href="" target="_blank">New Year's Eve party</a>? 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.</p> <p>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.</p> <p><em>What do you have planned for the upcoming year?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="">Debbie Dragon</a> of <a href="">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">25 Small New Year’s Resolutions You Can Start Today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">6 &quot;Good&quot; Habits That May Actually Be Hurting You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">A Denim Expert Reveals Why You Only Need 3 Pairs of Jeans</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">27 Things You Should Have in Your Utility Drawer</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">4 Easy Ways to Automate Your Everyday Life</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> General Tips Organization Productivity living proactively new year's resolutions yearly planning Wed, 02 Jan 2013 11:24:29 +0000 Debbie Dragon 961641 at 12 Proactive Things You Can Do Right Now <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/12-proactive-things-you-can-do-right-now" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="bicyclist" title="bicyclist" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>January marks a new year, and that means you can expect to find plenty of articles and ideas about how to set and keep the traditional New Year's resolutions.</p> <p>But why bother?</p> <p>Why invest energy into a list that most of us don't adhere to when you could instead simply begin adapting new behaviors that will ultimately lead you in the right direction? Start now, and you'll have a head-start on achieving some of those objectives, many of which are likely leftovers from previous years. You'll also find that you're more likely to stick to your new way of life because rather than setting some vague and overwhelming challenges (like &ldquo;lose weight&rdquo; or &ldquo;write a book&rdquo;), you're creating new habits that will form the foundation of your happier, healthier life. (See also: <a href="">25 New Things to Do Today</a>)</p> <p>Business owners call it &quot;future-casting&quot; and done correctly, it's what enables companies to meet the demands of changing market conditions due to new technology, consumer consciousness, and environmental developments. In other words, it's all about being prepared for what could be, so that you're never caught off guard by what is. It&rsquo;s about being proactive.</p> <p>So, in the spirit of getting things done, here's 12 easy ways to take a proactive approach to life.</p> <h2>1. Learn About Investing</h2> <p>If you have a 401(k) or IRA, then you probably know what kind of investing &quot;plan&quot; you chose when you signed up. Most providers of these financial vehicles offer a selection of plans based on your desired level of risk. But do you know which funds and/or stocks your particular plan includes? Do you understand the difference between the various mutual funds, know how to analyze the fees that they charge, and have a good feel for how to value a particular stock?</p> <p>Obviously, learning more about the various investing tools and all the options that are available to you is the best way to get better control over your finances, but this kind of stuff can be a little intimidating, especially if finance isn't your forte. So rather than setting a resolution to &quot;start investing&quot; or &quot;build a bigger portfolio,&quot; set a smaller goal now to simply start learning about what's out there and how it all works.</p> <h2>2. Start Saving</h2> <p>Did you know that 25% of American households have no savings whatsoever? Given the state of the job market and the super-slow return of our economy, it's not surprising that saving has taken a back seat to more pressing financial concerns.</p> <p>Maybe that means you have to start out small &mdash; even just $5 a month is worth the effort. The financial cushion that you'll eventually build will give you a renewed sense of security &mdash; something I think everyone can benefit from &mdash; not to mention a sense of accomplishment for actually moving toward such an important goal.</p> <h2>3. Pay Down Your Debt</h2> <p>I know, I know...easier said than done, right? But where there's a will, there's a way. And because even the smallest amounts can make a big difference, you don't have to make dramatic adjustments to your income or budget in order to succeed at this.</p> <p>Pick an obligation, and pay just $5 or $10 more each month if that's all you can do &mdash; and then take pride in the fact that you're taking charge of your debt. It won't <a href="">pay the balance off</a> quickly, of course, but like that new savings account you're starting, it will give you a clear sense of accomplishment as you realize you're taking control in a big way.</p> <h2>4. Think About Retirement</h2> <p>Because most of us equate investing with retirement, we have limited knowledge about how our retirement nest egg actually adds up. Add to that the fact that 40% of Americans have no retirement savings at all, and it's easy to see why so many of us think the future looks financially bleak.</p> <p>The problem is, like investing, the concept of retirement savings can be a little intimidating, especially if you're on a tight budget. But even if you can't afford to start setting aside big chunks of your income right now, you can start learning about the different retirement options and how each one could benefit you.</p> <h2>5. Start an Estate Plan</h2> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Estate planning</a> is one of those things that we purposely choose to ignore, if for no other reason than we don't like the idea of planning for our death. But it&rsquo;s also the primary factor that can make or break your family's financial future. If done correctly, can actually save them money down the road.</p> <p>And if you think that your estate isn't big enough for a plan, consider this &mdash; if you're 18 or older, you already have a plan whether you realize it or not. It's created by your State Legislators, and unless you create something to override it, that state will decide what happens after you&rsquo;re gone.</p> <p>A good estate plan allows you to provide for your minor children and even make special arrangements for disabled family members. It can include instructions and authorities to ensure that your wishes are followed in the event you suffer an injury or illness and can no longer speak on your own behalf. And it can ensure the privacy of the contents of your estate, keeping would-be thieves and con-artists from preying on your grieving family.</p> <p>In short, planning for your family after your gone isn't just a good example of the benefits of being proactive, it's the only way to protect the legacy you hope to pass on to the next generation.</p> <h2>6. Meditate</h2> <p>When it comes to meditation, there are three kinds of people in the world: those who swear by it, those who laugh at it, and those who keep meaning to do it, but just can't figure out how to get started.</p> <p>Let me first address that last group of people &mdash; don't worry so much about doing it &quot;correctly.&quot; Yes, there are added benefits when you master meditation but honestly, that mastery doesn't come right away. First, you have to learn how to quiet the mind, and that takes a little practice.</p> <p>Your goal is to quiet your mind for a full 20 seconds without any chatter at all. If a random question or thought pops in, start over and keep going until you can reach 20 seconds with no problem. By the time you reach this milestone (it's not as easy as it sounds), you'll have integrated meditation into your daily routine, and you'll be much more ready to dig deeper into this ancient art of relaxation.</p> <p>Now, for that second group of people who laugh at it &mdash; I know you too. I'm married to one of you. If I'm right, you're more tense and stressed than you'd like to admit, and while it's not your fault (people just seem to keep doing things to aggravate you), you have a hard time letting go and winding down. Why not give it a shot?</p> <p>If I'm wrong and you're as cool as a cucumber, then hey, skip this step and move on to the next. No worries!</p> <h2>7. Learn Something New</h2> <p>A while back, I wrote about the <a href="" target="_blank">benefits of exercising the mind</a> to improve memory and, hopefully, stave off dementia later in life. Since that time, I've followed my own advice, taking up foreign languages, guitar, physics, and algebra in a self-teaching environment whenever I've had time.</p> <p>And in the process, something amazing has happened.</p> <p>I <em>feel smarter</em>. Not just book-smart like I know something you don't, but I genuinely have more clarity. And the more I learn, the more this feeling grows.</p> <p>Keeping your mind active not only improves your memory, it also opens you up to new ideas and possibilities which could translate into a new business or lead you to acquire a new skill that nets you a promotion. Either way, you're better off for your efforts.</p> <p>If you can't manage going back to school full-time, then go part-time. Or do like I'm doing and self-teach when you can. My algebra and physics lessons are straight out of college textbooks that I bought at Half-Priced Books and my language lessons are free, courtesy of <a href="" target="_blank">DuoLingo</a> (incidentally, if you want to follow me there, my username is HappyGoKate).</p> <h2>8. Start Something Big</h2> <p>Talking about starting a business or going back to school brings us to the next item on my list &mdash; that life-altering thing you've wanted to do but just never seem to have the time for.</p> <p>Maybe you'd like to write a book or quit your job or travel the world or grow your own food. Whatever it is, it's the thing that's attached to your &quot;someday,&quot; only someday still hasn't come.</p> <p>Well, being proactive means not waiting around for the time to be right and instead, creating the opportunities you need to build the reality you want.</p> <p>So, take a step. It doesn't have to be a big one; any old step will do. Request that college catalog or download the form to file your DBA with the State. Research opportunities to study abroad or start browsing beach front properties to see what's available.</p> <p>Maybe you can't do it all right now, but you can start formulating a plan for making it happen and that plan requires a first step. Start there, and then take another. You'll be amazed at how fast things can change when you start moving.</p> <h2>9. Simplify</h2> <p>If I were to make a list of resolutions today, one of my top to-dos would be to get organized. Not just my closet, but my office, too, and of course, my garage could stand a good cleaning-out as well.</p> <p>In fact, as I stand here looking around my house, I'm seeing all kinds of areas that would benefit from a little more organization, and surely I'd be happier and more productive without all the <a href="" target="_blank">clutter</a>.</p> <p>The proactive approach, of course, would be to tackle these areas one-by-one. No major overhauls &mdash; just a slow implementation of systems that would make it easier to find my stuff when I want it.</p> <p>That means that I won't have to dig for receipts at tax time. I won't have to rush-clean because company's coming over, and I won't have to think of a good argument to explain why my daughter has to organize her room but I don't. See? The benefits of being proactive are many.</p> <h2>10. Get Over It</h2> <p>Bernard Meltzer once said, &quot;When you forgive, you don't change the past. But you certainly change the future.&quot; And in the context of being proactive, we couldn't ask for anything more.</p> <p>Forgiveness allows you to move forward, while carrying a grudge only ties you to the past. Forgiveness allows you to heal, while carrying a grudge keeps you angry. Which do you suppose would be the best path for a bright and happy future?</p> <p>Taking steps now to get over whatever it is that makes your blood boil will actually help you add years to your life. Not to mention that they'll be much happier years than they would be if you had stayed angry all that time.</p> <h2>11. Eat an Apple</h2> <p>Or an orange or some celery. <a href="">Losing weight and eating &quot;better&quot;</a> are top resolutions year after year, yet the fast food industry continues to show billions in revenue (over $195 billion this year alone), and we're still one of the &quot;largest&quot; populations in the world (currently ranking at #3).</p> <p>Every year we start out strong, eating nothing but grapefruit and cottage cheese, only to discover that we really miss those chocolate truffles, and maybe if we wait and start &quot;next week,&quot; after (you fill in the blank) is over, then we'll be able to do a better job and really stick to it this time.</p> <p>Instead, let's start with something small (notice a trend?).</p> <p>Eat an apple every day for breakfast, and then celebrate that you're eating healthier. Yes, following it up with a chili dog and fries for lunch will likely cancel out any calories you saved at breakfast, but you'll still benefit from the nutrients of the apple, and it's certainly still fewer calories overall than if you had chosen donuts or a sausage biscuit instead.</p> <p>Plus, instilling these little habits is also slowly changing your mindset. As you start to feel good about that apple, you'll find that trading that chili dog for a salad is much easier to do.</p> <h2>12. Stretch</h2> <p>Part two of that whole &quot;get healthier&quot; lifestyle requires that you do some exercise, and this is another area that we often put off until some later date and time.</p> <p>We have good intentions starting out of course, but the end result is typically a gym membership we never use and silent guilt we suppress when we pay the bill every month.</p> <p>Let's stop that cycle, too.</p> <p>Instead, stretch. Or go for a walk. Or go fuss in the garden. The point is, get up and move. Start slow and build up your stamina. Take a dance class, ride a bike, go swimming. The more you move around, the less you mind it, and as your health begins to improve and your waistline begins to shrink, the whole idea of exercise won't be the grueling event you see it as now.</p> <p><em>Now it's your turn. What ideas do you have for living a proactive life?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="">Kate Luther</a> of <a href="">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-10"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Eliminate Failed New Year&#039;s Resolutions with 3 Simple Steps</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Get It Done: How to Measure Your Goals</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">How to Create a Financial 5 Year Plan</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">10 Money-Saving New Year&#039;s Goals That You Can Actually Keep</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">5 Everyday Words That Are Making You Look Stupid</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management Personal Development achieving goals living proactively resolutions small steps Fri, 28 Dec 2012 11:24:30 +0000 Kate Luther 959571 at