Welcome to 2020! It is not only the start of a new year, but it is also the beginning of a new decade. As you age, it feels like the years start to fly by! With the passage of each year , we seem to have more tasks, events, commitments, obligations, etc. than ever before. Are you feeling bogged down; swamped with clutter, deadlines, and incomplete tasks? With the beginning of the new year, make it your goal to do a few simple things over the course of a day or two that will result in increased productivity and peace of mind throughout 2020.
Clean Up Your Technology
Just as you regularly clean your home, your technology should be decluttered occasionally to help it—and you—function more efficiently. It may seem tedious, but you can listen to your favorite tune or watch an old movie while you quickly refresh your technology.
❏ If your voice mailbox is full or nearing capacity, it only takes a few seconds to delete old messages.
❏ If your email inbox contains more than a few unread messages, skim them, reply when necessary, and delete or archive old messages. If your inbox is frequently inundated with promotional emails, unsubscribe from them to permanently reduce the clutter! Be honest with yourself on these types emails; if you rarely use the promotions or coupons you receive, it is time to unsubscribe.
❏ Similarly, if your cell phone is crammed with apps you never use, remove them so that only the apps you actually need remain. You can always download the app again in the future.
❏ Clean up the hard drive on your computer. Check your computer's storage settings and delete unnecessary files or move old files you want to keep to an external drive.
❏ If it has been a while since you updated your Facebook or other social media profiles, it is a good idea to review your privacy settings, remove access to third-party websites and applications you do not use, review your friends and followers to make sure you still want them to see the content you are sharing, look at groups you have joined to see if there are any you are no longer interested in, and remove any tags you do not want to share.
❏ Last but not least, physically dust and wipe down your laptop, mouse, phone, and other devices with an electronics-friendly spray and wipe. These devices harbor an astounding number of germs—more than the typical toilet—which can make you sick if they are not cleaned on a regular basis.
Knock Out Your Financial To-Dos
Get prepared for the year's financial deadlines so you don't lose opportunities, forfeit funds, or incur tax penalties. Make sure your hard-earned money works for you!
❏ Take a look at your 401(k) plan to determine the annual contribution limit. If you are able to contribute more, increase your election. In 2020, investors can contribute a maximum of $19,500—and those age 50 and older can make an additional $6,500 catch-up contribution, lowering your taxable income for the year. While you are at it, review your asset allocations, and check to see if your account needs to be rebalanced.
❏ Medical or dependent care flexible spending accounts (FSAs) allow you to make pre-tax contributions to pay for certain qualifying medical or childcare expenses. But make sure you check the rules for these accounts as they generally must be depleted by December 31st.
❏ Review your payroll tax withholdings to ensure that your employer is deducting an adequate amount each pay period so you will not be hit with a big tax bill in April 2021. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently modified Form W-9 to help Americans ensure they are withholding a sufficient amount of taxes from their paychecks. If your 2019 tax bill (due on April 15, 2020) is bigger than you expected, visit the IRS website for additional information on payroll tax withholdings ( www.irs.gov).
Wrap Up Personal Loose Ends
Often, things we consider urgent take precedence in our schedules, and equally important personal tasks can be pushed aside. Therefore, you should regularly set aside a few minutes to take care of some personal matters.
❏ According to the REAL ID Act passed by Congress in 2005, all individuals are required to have a REAL ID compliant driver's license or ID from their state's driver's licensing agency by October 1, 2020, if they wish to fly on a commercial aircraft or gain access to federal facilities. It is better not to wait until the last minute, as often, the DMV may not be able to provide the new card the same day but rather will probably have to mail it to you. If you do not have a REAL ID, you will be out of luck when you try to board that business or personal flight scheduled for October 2, 2020!
❏ No matter what your personal files look like for prior years, make a commitment to organize your records for 2020. This will help you address your records from prior years, make you feel better and help you remain organized for years to come.
❏ Declutter! Commit to going through your mail, notifications from your child's school, receipts and other paperwork at least once a week. Don't allow these piles to go unattended as you may miss something important or feel overwhelmed every time you look at it.
❏ Call an old friend you have been meaning to contact. Reconnecting with important people in our lives can be one of the most energizing things we can do for ourselves.
Lastly, remember to take care of yourself too. Get plenty of rest and exercise, which will help you stay mentally focused on tasks you have to complete. Have a wonderful 2020!