The end of the year is in sight. You’re looking forward to things winding down at the office and the opportunity to spend quality time with friends and family during the holiday season. You and your pals have started swapping ideas for New Year’s Eve, and — even though you’re not totally convinced it exists except to stress you out — you have high hopes for the occasion. Bring on 2019, right?
Not so fast! If you want to make the most of the year ahead, there are a few items you’ll want to add to your to-do list for December. Completing these tasks will ensure that you’ll be flipping the first page on your new calendar with confidence and a clear head.
1. Build your budget for next year
Don’t wait until after you’ve already celebrated the new year to plan your budget for the months ahead. The best time to take care of it is actually right now, according to Jesse Mecham, author of You Need a Budget. Consider the money goals you’d like to meet in 2019, then reflect on how you handled your finances over this past year. How can you change up your behaviors to meet those goals?
2. Use those leftover vacation days
Transformational coach and wellness strategist Dawn Burnett reminds us that any personal or vacation days we haven’t taken this year might not roll over into the following year. Check your employee handbook or talk to HR to find out if you’ll be able to use any leftover PTO later on. And if you can’t? Get some days off on the calendar ASAP! You work hard for those benefits, and you deserve to use them. (If your sick days don’t roll over, either, this could also be a good opportunity to take some time off work for medical care you’ve been putting off.)
3. Organize the photos on your phone
You’ve had a great year full of fun and happy memories, so your phone or camera is probably chock-full of photos that you’ve snapped along the way. Modular Closets home organization expert Marty Basher recommends taking some time before year-end to get those snapshots in order. Delete the pictures you don’t want anymore, and back up those you do. This might even motivate you to finally have some prints made — and it will help you free up space for storing new memories in the year ahead.
4. Tidy up financial documents
Gather any receipts, financial statements, and other money-related docs that have piled up in your desk drawers (or on that random spot on the kitchen counter that just seems to attract paper clutter). Then toss anything you don’t actually need! “With so many financial statements and other documents being available online, there’s no need to hold on to paper copies,” advises Young Adult Money founder and author of Student Loan Solution David Carlson. “That being said, many of us hold on to paper versions much longer than we need to. Doing this will allow you to start the new year with as little clutter as possible.”
5. Cull what doesn’t fit from your closet
Catherine Bachelier Smith of CBS Lifestylistsuggests a full closet overhaul in December. Where should you start? Saying goodbye to all the items in your wardrobe that don’t actually fit you. “There are other ways to motivate yourself than a reminder of what size you used to be two years ago,” says Bachelier Smith. “Instead, take yourself to dinner, and congratulate yourself for all of your accomplishments. There are many!”
6. Take photos with loved ones
Now is the time to capture a special moment with the people you care about the most. Why not make an event of it by booking a professional photo shoot? Per HighYa journalist Lydia Noyes, your family or friend group will love the chance to goof off together in front of the camera for a couple of hours, and the pictures will be a great reminder of this particular year in your life.
7. Reflect and plan
The LA Girl founder Gwen Lane tells us that as a business owner she takes time at the end of every year to look back at what she’s learned and accomplished professionally — and you can do that even if you’re not an entrepreneur. Set aside time as things quiet down at work to think about all that you’ve achieved in your job over the last 12 months. You can also consider lessons learned from your mistakes and shortcomings, which will help you think through your plans for the new year.
8. Take stock of your mental health
“Before the year comes to a close, take a moment to evaluate your mental health and ways to prioritize self-care in 2019,” encourages Acadia Healthcare chief medical officer Dr. Michael Genovese. “Take a mental health day from work, arrange time to speak with a counselor, attend a support group, or conduct an internal assessment of the health of your personal relationships.” Do whatever works for you in order to kick off the new year at your mental and emotional best.