When I was a kid, the U.S. TV channels broadcast a much-parodied series of PSA ads that advised viewers, “Don’t wait till spring – do it now!” To this day, I’m not sure what the actual purpose was of this pithy advice; perhaps it was to drum up work for contractors or tax accountants. But it’s surprisingly good advice for tackling all those little (or not so little!) chores that somehow get away from us during the rest of the year. Here’s a list of ideas to get you started.
1 Go through all your closets and clothes and divide into keepers and giveaways. If you’re not sure, a good rule of thumb is: if you haven’t worn it in two years and/or it makes you feel guilty, it’s a giveaway. Of the keepers, wash, mend or send those that need it to the dry cleaners.
2 Pair up mitts and stack them neatly where they can be easily accessed without falling into a jumble again; singletons should be thrown out. (If you find the mate later, chalk it up to fate and discard it too.)
3 Clean boots thoroughly and spray with protectant; if they need new lifts or other repairs, take them to the shoe repair shop. Polish and clean shoes; many shoe repair shops sell polish in every colour of the rainbow for nicks and scratches.
4 A new year is a great time to create, or overhaul, your budget. Create a budget that has flexibility in it (the number-one reason budgets fail is that they are too strict, rather than not strict enough), and resolve to stick to it. There are many good budgeting programs to be found online, and most are free. Plus, being budget-minded will help you achieve more in the upcoming year.
5 Pull your taxes together; if you start now, there will be plenty of time to go after missing receipts and add up deductions. If you have all the slips you need, you can send your return to your accountant earlier, if you use one, and get your refund faster. If you need to wait for certain slips like a T4, at least you’ll be ready and avoid any last-minute roadblocks.
6 Schedule dental checkups and annual visits to the doctor and various specialists (eye doctor, gyno, orthodontist, chiropractor, etc.), if you don’t have an appointment already scheduled.
7 Make an appointment with your financial advisor or bank, to check the health of your RRSP and other investments and make any adjustments.
8 If your pots and pans tend to end up in a jumble, perhaps you have too many. Consider a more convenient storage system for frequently used pans, such as a hanging rack (or drawer) near where they’re used. Pans that are used less frequently can be stored further away or even in another room.
9 Go through your spices and throw away those that are expired or have just a teeny bit left in the bottom. (A friend of mine labels her spices with the date she bought them and discards them after six months, which is when most dried spices lose their oomph.) Return them to the rack in alphabetical order, making retrieval much easier.
10 Pull all those cans and boxes of food out of cupboards and reorganize them. (If you’re like me, some things get shoved to the back over time, and you end up with multiples. Who needs three cans of baby corncobs?) If it’s still good but you really are never going to eat it, toss or give to the food bank.
11 If you do a lot of work at home or make your living there (or even if you don’t), inevitably piles of papers, books and files grow like stalagmites during the year. Now is the time to go through them systematically. File what needs filing, and recycle what doesn’t. Again, if you’re not sure, ask yourself: Do I need it? Will I need it later? Is there a better place for it?
12 While you’re at it, do the same with your computer. Delete old files; empty the trash; store files you want to save on disks or a hard drive, or using one of the new Internet storage facilities such as Dropbox.com or Cloud. Once that’s done, you can give your computer a new lease on life by re-installing the operating system, using the disks that came with the computer. (It will prompt you to either reload the OS while preserving existing files, or wipe the whole thing clean, files and all.)
Get a head start on spring-cleaning
- Wash pillows, comforters and blankets, mattress covers, bedskirts.
- Clean the insides of windows.
- Deep clean the grout in kitchen and bathrooms by scrubbing with a toothbrush.
- Consider upholstery cleaning.
- Clean out the basement; if it’s semi-finished, get after cobwebs in rafters and dust in unused corners.