You may be looking forward to the end of the year as a time to catch your breath between the unpredictable 2020 market and the sure-to-be-active Spring 2021 market. However, it’s important to use the precious downtime around the holidays to take care of your business and plan for the future. Below you’ll find an end-of-the-year checklist designed to help you learn what worked (and what didn’t) from the past year and prepare for the year ahead.
Whether you take care of your own taxes and finances or outsource the task to a financial professional, the end of the year is an important time for gathering the necessary information for tax preparation and filing. In addition, this is a good time for you to review your long-term financial planning and see if you need to make any adjustments to your investment strategy.
Remember, business expenses, medical expenses, and investment adjustments made on or before December 31 will impact your 2020 tax picture. Make sure you start planning early so that you can hit that deadline.
→ Review 2020 financial performance
→ Review 2020 personal and business budgets
→ Review recurring payments and cancel any that you no longer need
→ Schedule consultation with CPA or financial advisor
→ Determine whether you need to make an additional contribution toward retirement funding
→ Begin gathering receipts and documenting expenses for 2020 taxes
Whether you’re working from home or back in the office, it’s important to keep your workspace neat and organized. If you have some downtime toward the end of the year, set aside a day to roll up your sleeves and whip your office into shape. Tackle those stacks of things you’ve been saving “just in case.” If you’ve been looking at old office supplies, outdated manuals, and dust-catching knickknacks year after year and wondering if you can live without them, you probably can.
→ Deep-clean office
→ Have automobile detailed
→ Shred unneeded documents
→ Discard outdated marketing materials
→ Replace worn-out equipment, technology, signs, sign holders, and office furniture
The end of the year is a great time to get ahead on your marketing. It offers the possibility of both evaluating your previous marketing initiatives and planning for the year ahead. If much of your marketing has traditionally been face-to-face or event-based, you’ve probably had to adjust on the fly in 2020. This is the time for you to make more mindful decisions about your socially distanced 2021 marketing plan while still holding out hope for a return to social events in the second half of the year.
Remember, marketing expenses are generally tax-deductible, so if you are planning a major financial outlay for your marketing, you’ll need to do it on or before December 31 in order for it to be deducted from your 2020 taxes.
→ Plan end-of-year cards or handwritten notes to SOI
→ Review online presence for accuracy
→ Update contact information at Zillow, Realtor.com, social media platforms
→ Check signs for compliance and accuracy
→ Review CRM and remove outdated contact information
→ Review 2020 marketing initiative ROI and revise as needed
→ Update buyer and listing presentations, business cards, and other marketing materials
If you don’t keep up with organizing your desk, you may find yourself buried under a mountain of paperwork, post-its, and other physical items. In addition, you may have an inbox full of unfiled emails, making it difficult for you to keep your virtual life organized. This is the time to sit down and put everything in order so that you are able to move into 2021 with a clean slate.
→ Update and organize paper files
→ Organize online files and email inbox
→ Archive files for long-term storage
→ Update ongoing calendar events and time-blocking
→ Check expiration dates for URLs, websites, referral platforms
From required license renewal to advanced training and certifications, it’s important to ensure that you are continuing to build your expertise through training and professional development. Remember, your ideal 2021 training initiative may not be real estate related—you may want training on social media planning or financial platforms. Set your professional goals then look for the training that will help you achieve them. Don’t forget, ReminderMedia has an entire suite of print and digital tools to optimize your marketing, as well as FREE success guides, e-books, and more, to help you be successful in 2021.
→ Mark calendar with licensure renewal date
→ Schedule continuing education as needed
→ Plan additional training for certifications, designations, or skill development
Planning for 2021 and Beyond
Think ahead to the end of next year. Where would you like to be financially, professionally, and personally? What will you wish then that you had done now? Don’t limit yourself to professional goals. Maybe you want to have more control over your schedule so that you can coach your daughter’s soccer team or volunteer with your favorite charity. Maybe you need to focus on your health so that you feel better, both at home and on the job.
You may have heard the phrase “Hope is not a plan.” Get in touch with your hopes for 2021, then back them up with concrete planning and strategies so that you can accomplish your goals and fulfill your hopes. Then, think beyond 2021 and develop five-year and ten-year goals as well. What first step can you take in 2021 that will help set you up for success further down the road?
→ Calculate sales goals for 2021
→ Plan monthly marketing initiatives
→ Plan outreach and development of your professional network
→ Sit down with a mentor or trusted colleague to develop your professional goals
→ Set goals for integrating new technology, geographic farming, or other marketing initiatives
→ Schedule needed consultations, coaching, and other development activities
→ Sit down with family, friends, or a trusted counselor to develop your personal goals
→ Schedule needed doctor appointments, check-ups, and health screenings