It’s December and the season of spirit is all around! Decorations, festivities, laughter and joy are key indicators that it is time to sit back, relax and coast through the end of the year!
If only that were true.
Last-minute client requests, unrealistic deadlines and unusually empty offices are equally a part of the holiday season as are the above mentioned merry memories—and so are lists: seemingly inspirational yet stress-inducing “do-these-things-to-get-your-life-together-in-the-next-4-weeks-or-else” lists saturating the internet and reminding you that there is so much more to do and so little time left. Words like “review,” “evaluate” and “assess” fly off the screen, landing right on the to-do list that is already spilling out of your briefcase.
While it would be nice to say that an additional to-do list is just that—excessive—that’s simply not true. These internet lists and their well-intended authors are actually right: it is important to be prepared for transition of years. December tends to be one of the busier months in a company’s calendar, as there are always additional i’s to dot and t’s to cross before the ball drops to kick-off a new year. Having a checklist can be a helpful tool but the key is, it doesn’t have to be an excessive one.
So here is our present to you: a simple, short, effective list of things you may want to do as 2014 comes to an end:
Why is “contribute” our favorite? Because it can be interpreted any way you want. Yes, it is important to contribute time and money to local, national and global charities, so volunteer at a shelter; attend a fundraiser for orphans, and write a check to a worthy cause.
But it is also important to contribute time and money to yourself, so take the time to take time off this season. With all of the stressors of life coupled with the angrier-than-average drivers and shorter-than-usual work days, some downtime is a necessity. As for money? Give some right back to yourself, too: You have until December 31st to make a last-minute contribution to your annual 401(k).
Here are some facts from U.S. News and World Report to show you why you should:
And just for reference: An employee in the 25 percent tax bracket who is able to max out his 401(k) would save $4,375 on his federal income tax bill, compared with $1,250 in tax savings for someone who deposits $5,000 in a 401(k).
If saving money for yourself isn’t a good reason to follow a checklist, we don’t know what is.