What questions will be answered by this blog post about saving time?
1. What types of things can I do now so that I save time later?
2. How can I safely back up my electronic devices?
3. What can I do to prepare for completing my tax returns?
Do less. Accomplish more.
That’s my new mantra for the New Year. I think it can be applied in so many areas of our lives – both at home and at work.
In the New Year, I’d like to suggest three areas where doing less will definitely accomplish more.
1. Create a Tax File.
At home, set up a simple file labeled TAX FILE by using a manila file folder or even a large brown envelope. The key here is to create ONE place for ALL receipts, statements and documents. When it’s time to gather items necessary to prepare your returns, you’ll have everything in one place. i.e. Do less. Accomplish more.
Throughout the year, here’s the types of things I put in my file folder:
Charitable giving and Contribution receipts. You know those receipts you’re handed when you donate items to Good Will? This is where they’ll go!
Pay stubs. I only keep the most recent one.
1099’s and year-end statements for all investment and retirement accounts. These usually arrive in the month of January.
If you buy/sell real estate, you’ll want a copy of your closing statement in this file.
Receipts for anything that you can deduct on your taxes (education, childcare, uniforms, long term insurance receipts, etc.)
2. Take time to organize your electronic devices.
Start out by standardizing your file folder structure. You may need to rename some folders or do some rearranging but the goal here is to be able to find something in less than 60 seconds. For example, when filing your photos, you can save them chronologically in folders labeled by year or in folders by subject such as Holidays, Sports, Kids.
Next, make sure all your computers and devices (including your phone) are properly backed up. You can do this in the cloud (see below for resources), on an external hard drive or even on a flash drive. If using a hard drive or flash drive, you’ll want to store these in a fire-proof safe designed for electronic data.
3. Start your Christmas list.
Believe it or not, it’s not too early to start a Christmas list for your loved ones for next Christmas. After all, Christmas is only 341 days away! I have an Outlook Task (you could use a Word or Excel doc) that I use to jot down ideas as they come to me throughout the year. For example, my daughter made mention of an item that she found interesting once when we were together. When I returned to my office, I opened my handy list and added the item to it. Imagine her surprise when she received the item at Christmas!
All three of these represent instances in our lives that can potentially take more time than necessary.