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12 things to do to refresh for the new year

December 31, 2020 Karianne 4 min read 2 Comments

1. Clean up your inbox.

It’s time to unsubscribe from those emails you rarely open. Instead of deleting them when they come in, open the latest one and actually click unsubscribe.

Don’t feel bad for doing something for you. Unless it’s a small newsletter (like mine), they probably won’t take it personally, and a large company won’t even notice.

Think of all the freedom you’ll gain in the new year by reclaiming the time that gets wasted having to delete all those messages you don’t ask for.

2. Sort your wardrobe.

2020 changed a lot of things, including how many business-casual outfits we actually need. With so many offices switching to hybrid/remote work permanently, now is the perfect time to look at how many dress pants you have to keep and what can be donated.

BONUS: After clothes, clean up the fridge and pantry. Toss anything questionable. Remember: Food banks don’t accept expired products. I will still eat expired canned goods and some condiments, but if it’s so far gone that even I turn up my nose, it’s time to get it out of the house to make space for fresh food.

3. Buy new bedsheets.

Nearly every store has an amazing sale on bedsheets right now. Picture starting the new year climbing into bed with a fresh set of sheets and you’ll understand why. I just bought this set on sale for $23Well, technically $30 because I also bought a nice towel so I could get free shipping. =)

4. Pick an almost-finished project and…finish it!

You know that thing you glare at every time you walk by? Use the first weekend in the new year to finally get it done and get that weight lifted from your mind.

My almost-finished yet still unfinished project is going through a box of stuff I pulled from my old car. It’s a combination of garbage, receipts, and important papers aka the worst combo ever, so of course, I put it off all year.

5. Make an end-of-year donation.

I don’t really understand taxes, but I know if you give a certain amount to charities by Dec 31 you get more of a tax return back…or maybe it’s you have to pay less in taxes?

Not sure. But there’s some sort of incentive for giving so why not find a cause you care about and give if you can?

6. Reconnect with an old friend.

You know the one. You just thought of them while reading this so send them a hello.

7. Set and start an exercise goal.

A couple weeks ago I did something crazy and bought a treadmill that was on sale. My goal is to walk on it for 20 minutes at least 3 times a week. It’s not an intense workout, but it’s a start—and it’s so doable that not even my best excuse generator can refute it.

Tip: To create a new habit take 21 pieces of masking tape, put it on a door frame, and every day you do it take a piece off. You get instant satisfaction peeling it off and it’s a good in-your-face reminder.

8. Clean up your computer’s desktop.

My desktop has files on top of files. I still have assignments from school cluttering the corner and there are all those weirdly named downloads that I knew what they were at the time so I didn’t bother to change them and now I have no idea what 1_KtwSQzHG.png is…

I’m sure I’ll think clearer in the new year if I have a clean screen.

9. Update or create an emergency binder.

I’m at that age where keeping track of retirement and insurance information is becoming more important. Although I still don’t have an emergency binder, this feels like a good year to start one. If you also don’t have one yet, I’ll use this guide for mine.

10. Plan some tiny victories.

As my cousin said, tiny victories are small steps that “…will hopefully maybe lead to fulfillment and some progress toward some real change a little at a time.” He talks about it more in this inspiring Instagram post.

Basically, if you have a goal to eat healthier a tiny victory might be to buy more fruits and veggies. Then another tiny victory (and where I get stuck) is actually eating them.

11. Give gratitude.

Remember back in April when that person helped you? If you can still contact them, let each person who helped you through this year know that you are still grateful for them. It could be as simple as a sentence you send with your annual “Happy New Year” text or as heartfelt as a mailed letter.

12. Give an anonymous gift.

I know… “We just finished Christmas and we’re already back to gifts?!” But this gift is different. By giving it anonymously they won’t have an obligation to give a gift in return or say thank you. I’m going to try to give something to someone who is having a tougher time than the rest of us.

Maybe a student feeling like their normal school-kid experience is being robbed from them. Or a grandparent who can’t visit with family or friends anymore. A friend working on the frontlines. A friend who’s not able to work at all. Anyone—even a stranger.

Did someone pop into your mind? If so, that person is the one your heart wants to bless.

Click to download.

Well, that’s a roundup of the best ideas I have for starting the new year fresh. What about you?

What are some new-year traditions you have?

Meet the author
Founder - Art Director - Animator | Website

Book progressBucket list

Karianne is the founder of Windmill Ways. She plays the cello professionally and currently works as an Art Director for a charity. Because she loves animated shows and movies, she studies 3D animation and graduated with a BFA with the unfortunate class of 2020. Her dream vacation would be just staying home, but "home" being a glamorous cabin somewhere in the mountains surrounded by forest.

Favorite band: Lord Huron
Favorite book: This Present Darkness
Favorite quote: "Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life. You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail." Proverbs 19:20-21 (NLT)

Would you like to share your story on Windmill Ways? Apply here.


  • Laurie Gabriel January 1, 2021 at 8:18 am

    OOO, I just LOVE lists!!! My New Years tradition is that I list all my accomplishments for the year, and write goals for the next year. My accomplishments hardly ever match the goals I set at the beginning of the year, but there are always some great ways I surprised myself. I love your idea for putting the strips of tape and peeling them off – totally going to do that. My BIG goal this year (as it is every year) is to keep track of my finances. I never know till the end of the year how much I made, who still owes me money, etc. Pathetic! Each year I have the same goal and each year I go a little longer till I drop it. In 2020 I made it all the way through September. Trying to go at least through October this year. Part of me hates keeping track of that stuff. Part of the problem is I have dozens of different sources of income: fifty nursing homes, three schools, nine private students, dozens of different bridal clients, dozens of singing telegram clients, six voiceover studios…it makes my head spin. I got a sparkly purple notebook to keep it all together. I’m putting sticky tabs in it for each income type. We’ll see what happens!

    • Karianne January 4, 2021 at 1:36 pm

      Hey I do that too! Kind of. I choose a word or attribute I want to focus on through the year and write 3 personal goals. Sometimes I get to check them off, sometimes I don’t. It’s been interesting to look back and see what used to be really important to me versus what’s important now. Losing weight used to always be in my goals but now it’s things like, finish animating that series, finish that book, get married…haha. Also, I hate finances too. I can’t imagine having to organize all those different income streams! The tool I use, and maybe it can help you too, is You can add accounts and create categories for transactions. It’s been a game changer for me.

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