Cleaning out your closet. Defragging your hard drive. Updating your resume.

What do all of these have in common? They’re nagging little jobs on most of our “to-do” lists that we keep putting off because they’re tedious and boring. They keep getting pushed to the back of the queue, gathering dust and being neglected until we’re forced to take care of them for one reason or another, at which point we end up stressed, panicky, and resentful.

Fortunately, there’s no time like the present to finally get around to doing these tasks, and having them all over and done with for the New Year and allow yourself to start the next year with a clean slate, with no daunting obligations left to hang over your head. Below are a few suggestions about some of the tasks you might like to tackle, if you have time to do so:

1. Clean out your email

Most of us have a plethora of unread emails lounging around in our in-boxes, as well as old drafts, spam, and various other sundries tucked into different folders. Instead of just vegging out in front of the TV after supper, consider putting on some music and sifting through your folders to clear them out. Doing this for 20 minutes/night for just a few evenings will tidy things up nicely. You may need to know how to use Gmail search to clean up your Email archive.

Oh, and while you’re at it…

2. Review and update your address book

Do you really need to hold onto the email addresses belonging to people you worked with in 2003? Take a few minutes to sort through your address book and cull those that you haven’t communicated with, along with old addresses that your friends/family don’t use anymore. (See how to use Google Contacts as a Unified Address Book)

3. Clean your computer (inside and out) and tidy up your workstation

While you’re tidying up all those files, consider using this opportunity as a chance to clean up your desk (and your computer itself). If you have a CPU tower, take it apart so you can vacuum out all the dust and pet hair that might have accumulated in there. Toss away any take-out containers or empty energy drink cans around your desk, give everything a solid once-over with some spray cleaner (just not your monitor: clean that thing properly), and be sure to clean your keyboard too—those things get nasty.

4. File and organize papers, bills, statements, and receipts

Keeping these in order can come in handy, especially since tax season is just around the corner. Try to organize them so your receipts and statements are together, with outstanding bills and invoices in another section.

While you’re at it, consider making a couple of last-minute charitable donations to adjust your tax deductions, if you’re into that sort of thing.

5. Update your personal budget, resume and bio

As you go through your papers, take note of your spending habits over the last year. Have you gone overboard with spending? Been too frugal? Compare your habits to your bank account, and then consider re-adjusting your personal budget to even things out a bit.

On that same note, if you find that you’ve struggled to make ends meet or that you’re not being paid what you’re worth, it might be time to update your resume and look for a new job. If instead you’re perfectly happy with where you are, but you’ve had some major life changes (moved to a new city/country, earned a degree, got married, etc.) then you might want to update your bio on various networking sites.

6. Reduce clutter, and give things away

You would not believe how much stuff can accumulate in cupboards and closets, particularly in the bathroom. Set aside an hour or so to sort through everything under the sink to see just how many unused soaps, creams, razors, and other sundries you’ve collected, and then decide whether you’re actually going to use them or not. If you will, think about displaying them in a basket or keeping them at hand so you’ll use them up. If you’ll never touch the things, give them away to friends who’ll use them, or donate them.

Speaking of donations…

7. Clean out your closet, and donate your old clothes

A good rule to stick to as far as clothing is concerned is to give away anything you haven’t worn in over 2 years (with the exception of really well-tailored suits or dresses that still fit, and are in great shape. You never know when those will come in handy). For each piece you give away, you can buy yourself something new that fits both your figure and your current fashion sense, but don’t hold on to something that will never fit or come back into style again.

(We have created a list for you so that you can keep track of your new year tasks, Things to do for the new year)

Once you’ve taken care of all of these tasks, all you really need to do is finalize your New Year’s Eve schedule, and make some goals for 2013. If you find that you tend to self-sabotage official resolutions, consider just making some short-term goals that are easy to attain: reaching them will boost your confidence, and might encourage you to pursue some more intense, longer-term goals in turn.

Featured photo credit:  Attractive young adult couple via Shutterstock

 

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