Ending the Year Right

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2008 is almost gone, and for most of us, this is a slack week at work – whether we’re self-employed or working for someone else (you may even be on voluntary or enforced vacation in the latter case). Traditionally, that makes it a good time for reflection, as well as catching up on some things you’ve just been too busy to do in recent months. Here are some suggestions as to what you should do this week:

1. Call your accountant. While some things (like HSA contributions) can be done after January 1, there are some serious tax deadlines at midnight on Wednesday. If you’re self-employed or have a complex tax situation, this may be your last chance to make course corrections that will affect your tax bill in April.

2. Back up your data. Of course, you should be backing up your data regularly. But this is a good time to evaluate and, if necessary, fine-tune your backup strategy. Are you backing up everything that counts (what about all that stuff on your fancy-schmancy phone)? Are you taking the most critical backups offsite? Do you know how you’d restore your data in case of disaster?

3. Change your passwords. How’s your password management strategy? Are you still using the same password everywhere, instead of using a password manager? How many people know that password? This is a good time to work through switching to new, strong passwords on the most critical services that you use.

4. Reflect. Did you get everything done that you wanted to this year, personally and professionally? What are your goals for 2009? If you enter the new year with a concrete plan, you raise your chances of success.

What about you? What are you doing to end the year and start the new one on the right foot?

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