Make Your To-Do List (Slightly) Selfish

By Shane Watson

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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:

  • review the company’s fiscal standing
  • evaluate the technological and organizational needs of the teams
  • assess the year’s progress overall 
  • set goals for the upcoming quarter
  • coordinate with staff to implement plans of improvement
  • contribute—this one’s our favorite


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.

Read Related: Why Sustainability is a Good Business Decision 

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:

  • Workers age 49 and younger can contribute up to $17,500 to their 401(k) plan
  • Workers age 50 and older can contribute a total of $23,000 to a 401(k) account
  • Income tax won’t be due on the amount deposited in a traditional 401(k) account until the money is withdrawn
  • In some cases, you can also allocate part or all of a year-end bonus to your 401(k) account and avoid the extra tax bill on it. So if you need some extra motivation to get you through that never-ending end-of-year project, think about that tax-saving bonus!


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). 

Read Related: Take Control: Financial Planning 101

If saving money for yourself isn’t a good reason to follow a checklist, we don’t know what is. 

The December edition of Business Review USA is now live! Check it out! 


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