Happy New Year! While New Year’s Eve is not my favorite holiday, when I was little, I loved that my parents used to save several fireworks from the Fourth of July so that my best friend and I could launch a few at midnight. Now I live in a town that bans fireworks entirely, and I’d much prefer to get sleep than stay up until midnight. While my celebrations are far more reserved these days, I do like the fresh feeling of a new calendar.
By now, you’ve likely prepared your calendar for 2014. This, in fact, is a ritual I prefer to viewing the Times Square ball drop. Perhaps you input important holidays, travel plans, and birthdays. In this post, I’d like to share a few suggestions for more obscure items to add to your planner. There are a few additional things I like to add to my calendar at the start of a new year. Today I’m sitting down at my laptop and searching several key dates for 2014. Depending on where you live, some of these may not apply, but here are some items to consider adding to your calendar now:
- Pet care items such as medications or vaccinations
- Family days and/or date nights. You can use pencil or a Post-It if you want to, but I like to set aside some days and evenings that are reserved for people I love. When others are planning meetings or events, I know that date is reserved.
- If someone else prepares your taxes, insert a reminder to call your accountant and schedule a tax preparation appointment (my call will be 1/31). If you prepare your own taxes, schedule a day to sit down and get it done. Put it in early so that if you must reschedule, you’re not frantically scrambling at the very end.
- Any planned free “bulky items” and “electronic waste” (e-waste) days at your local recycling and waste management departments. Around here, there are a few days a year when the recycling company accepts free e-waste for recycling, as well as bulky items. Our city posts these dates on their website.
- If you are in U.S. locations that use Daylight Savings Time, note when to change your clocks: For 2014, one hour ahead on Sunday, March 9; one hour back on Sunday, November 2. This is also the day firefighters recommend you change the batteries on your smoke detectors (no special reason for the date, other than it’s easy to remember if you live in a place that does DST…if you don’t, mark your calendar for twice this year on whatever date you prefer).
- Reminders to change the air filter in your home. I do this monthly during high-pollen months and every other month at other times of the year.
- Dates for big bills that occur only once or twice a year (e.g., property taxes, home insurance, life insurance, car registration, etc.). You may even want to plug in a reminder 2-3 weeks prior. Late fees and lapses in coverage are not fun. Not that I’m speaking from experience ::cough::
- This may sound silly, but I like to visit the websites of a few theaters and use pencil (actually, my erasable FriXion pens) to mark any performances I am considering attending. Some venues don’t post their new seasons until spring, but there are still several in upcoming months. If you have a favorite kind of event, visit websites and mark in dates. Maybe it’s baseball spring training or lacrosse — whatever you want to make sure is on your radar.
- If you are a runner, check out any posted races you may want to enter (also in pencil, unless you’re already registered).
- When to schedule annual exams such as well-child check-ups and your own physical exam. Even if you don’t have one scheduled, note when to make the phone call. Eye exams? Colonscopies or mammograms (early detection trumps a little discomfort every time, though colonoscopy prep is not a jaunt in the park). Preventative care is a priority.
- Events posted on school and favorite community organization websites (“Open House” at the kids’ schools, big fundraisers, church events, etc.)
- Post-It notes with reminders to schedule big cleaning tasks such as clearing out the rain gutters or going through the kids’ closets or toys (especially before birthdays, holidays, and back-to-school shopping). I don’t actually schedule them, because I don’t know what a specific day will look like in October, but it’s a visual reminder.
- Browse your city’s/regional websites for other noteworthy events. For instance, our library hosts several book sales each year to raise funds. I like to donate used books a few weeks before the sale, and sometimes I bring the kids there to shop. The website has 2014 dates listed already, so I’m putting in Post-Its with donation reminders and dates of the actual sales. I also have a favorite bookstore that brings in some of my favorite authors, and they have a quarterly schedule, so I’ll start by inputting the first quarter’s worth. I may opt not to attend come mid-February, but at least I know it’s an option when scheduling other activities.
- If you like to have your chimneys swept or air conditioning inspected before the seasons change, put in a note when you want to call to schedule an appointment.
- I’m not a gardener, but if you have special tasks for planting, pruning, or trimming, you may consider putting that on your calendar, either directly or on a Post-It.
- For parents who need to schedule camps and summer activities, brochures and catalogs often come out in the spring. In our community, they are always out by mid-March and fill up fast. I put a reminder in March to start looking for the various flyers.
- Finally, if you have special friends who you don’t see often, put a few post-its to remind yourself to call them throughout the year or set up a get-together.For example, I have a dear former colleague (and his wife) that my husband and I meet for dinner every 4-6 months.
- Quarterly goal and planner reviews. Set aside a few hours each quarter to reflect on your year so far. Are there any goals you wish to let go? To add? To get back on track? How? You might journal or talk with a family member, too. Then, if it has been a while, purge out unnecessary items from your planner. Bring a fresh eye to your set-up and consider what is working and what might benefit from tweaking (or even abandoning). I wouldn’t recommend buying a new planner if it’s the page set-up that’s bothering you. Also, remember that simple systems that you use are better than complex systems that lie unused after hours of prep.
Perhaps you have other suggestions for getting set up for a new year…items that are less obvious than holidays and birthdays. If so, feel free to share below!