Happy New Year! Wait…aren’t we a little early (or a lot late) for that greeting? The truth is that for many people, September is the “real” new year, despite what the calendar says. And it’s easy to see why—after all that was traditionally the time we came back to school in a new outfit, maybe a new haircut, waiting to meet our new teacher and classmates, with all our fresh new school supplies.
If your new year’s resolutions have waned, September is the perfect time for a reboot. And, chances are you probably have let them go—one survey found that only a quarter of people believe that “new year’s resolutions” still stick by September. So given that September is actually “Self Improvement Month” and many of us are starting a new routine, this is the perfect time to choose a few resolutions that can carry you through the calendar-designated new year.
- This September I resolve to: implement smart strategies for handling paperwork.
If you have school-aged kids, September is the month that paperwork is thicker than the falling leaves. From classroom rules to snack schedules, field trip forms to volunteer sign-ups, backpacks are bulging. This September vow to create a system for handling the paperwork proactively. Here are some tips:
- Touch it once. That means signing the form immediately and returning it to your child’s backpack, or putting the dates on the calendar and recycling the form.
- Create a binder for the papers you need to save. Organize it by month, child, or activity—whatever works for you. Then you have a go-to spot to find that early release calendar when you’re looking for it.
- Save it electronically. Get rid of the paper clutter once and for all by saving it to the cloud or on your phone.
- This September I resolve to: start an exercise routine.
January can be a bummer time to start your exercise plan, given that it’s dark and cold out. But fall, with its crisp evenings and still decently long days, is perfect. And once you start the routine, you’ll find it’s far easier to keep it. Try these ideas:
- Kids starting activities? Get off your phone while you wait and use that time to walk the track or do some yoga poses in the hallway.
- Incorporate an after-dinner walk into your family’s routine. It’s a great way to catch up on everyone’s day, then return back, refreshed and ready for homework.
- Record your favorite show—but commit to only watching it if you’re exercising (and that can be as simple as some pushups, dips, and jumping jacks.) With the new TV season starting, it’s the perfect time.
- This September I resolve to: pack healthy lunches.
Whether or not you have kids, September reminds us of sack lunches, and if you’re not brown bagging (or cooler-ing) it to work, you’re missing out on a calorie- and money-saving bonanza. Here’s how to incorporate lunch packing into your busy routine.
- Make use of the weekend. After your weekly shop, spend 10 extra minutes prepping the food before you put it away. Cut fruit and vegetables; portion out snacks into smaller bags; slice cheese or meats. You’ll be more likely to grab and go when the hard part is done.
- Pack lunches at night after dinner. Your kitchen is already a bit of a mess, so just get it done at the same time. Make extra protein and veggies (think of them as “planned overs,” rather than “leftovers”) and put them into small storage containers as you clean the dishes. Or, make that sandwich while the pasta is boiling. In the morning, you’ll just have to add a couple of items, and lunch is packed in no time.
- Swap with a family member. Packing lunches works better when it doesn’t all fall on one person. Work with your mate or your kids to determine what constitutes a “lunch” (so you don’t end up with a granola bar and some crackers) and create a schedule for lunch-packing duties.
- This September I resolve to: save money for the upcoming holidays.
While we’re reveling in pumpkin spice and football, we also know what’s right around the corner…the holidays and their accompanying expenses. Give yourself a gift this holiday season and save money now so you’re not saddled with big bills come January. Talk about a happy new year! Here’s how:
- Make a holiday budget, before you get sucked into the buying itself. It’s easy to forget adjacent expense like travel, stamps for the holiday cards, and gift wrap, so having a clear vision of how much you want to (and can) spend now makes it easier to make choices when the holidays roll around.
- Start shopping. Take advantage of back-to-school sales to get a jump on your holiday gifting. Not only will you get some great deals, but spreading out the buying means you’re also spreading out the expense.
- Set up automatic deposit. Talk to HR now about diverting some of your paycheck to a special savings account. You might not even notice that it never hit your bank account, and you’ll have a nice little nest egg saved up for when you need it.
And with that, you will have started four great new routines that will make fall spectacular…and, yes, give you a little satisfaction that you’re ahead of the new year’s resolution game.