Happy new year! The cheeseboard is bare, the Baileys has run dry, and auld acquaintance be forgot – time to get back to work. Time to pause and reflect on how and where and why you do what you do. Behold, an A to Z checklist of all the things you need to get the year off to a good start.
Archive — Put last year away, it’s cluttering up the place. Make some space for new adventures.
Books — Ignore that weird creaking sound the floorboards are making under tsundoku stack #4 – you need more books and you need to read them. Penguin’s magazine-as-book-group, The Happy Reader, is a good way to throw yourself into some forgotten classics (the current issue is centred around Yevgeny Zamyatin’s sci-fi oddity, We). And remember that big building in town with all the books that you can take home for free? It misses you ever so much.
Caffeine — How will you brew your cuppa in 2018? Stove-top? Filter? Press? Pump? Bean-to-cup? Pod? Capsule? Pour-over? Hit the sales and try out a new method from the baffling array of grown-up chemistry sets available.
Decaffeine — Or, you know, maybe just give in to option paralysis and start the year by giving coffee a break for a while. See if you can function without a constant flow of addictive psychoactive laxatives in your system.
Exhibitions — Take some time to scour the websites of every museum and gallery you can think of, and fill your diary with anything that might be of interest. Never again find out about your dream show a week after it closes.
Fonts — Go on, treat yourself. You’ve been relying on that same tired selection for far too long. Dip into Paul McNeil’s wonderful The Visual History of Typeand pick out some new/old favourites to play with.
Getaway — Just because you’ve only just got back to your desk doesn’t mean it’s too soon to plan your next escape from it. The occasional weekend in a peaceful seaside village with crap internet will do you the world of good. Book it now.
Humans — You know those lovely people you exchange puns with on the internet? The ones you’ve known for several years? How about actually meeting them at some point? A long lunch with some of your favourite tweeters is probably a lot more productive and fun than that hideously expensive conference you were thinking of attending.
iMac Pro — You’re a professional, right? Well then, obviously you need one of these! And no scrimping on the spec like a big impostering amateur – decked out with all of the trimmings, it’ll only cost you a smidge over £13k. Remember, you’re investing in you.
Journal — Find a space to gather and develop your thoughts, either on paper or online, away from the incessant demands of social media. Artist/writer Austin Kleon recently returned to the now rather quaint habit of daily blogging, and rediscovered the benefits: “Blogging is a mode of thinking … about discovering what I have to say; tweeting is more about having a thought, then saying it right away.” It’s about finding your voice rather than making a noise.
K — Your printer has run out of black ink. Again. Now would be a good time to top it up. Again. Maybe consider doing more work in 100% Magenta this year.
Letraset — Thanks to Unit Editions’ new book, Letraset: The DIY Typography Revolution, rubdown lettering will be making a delightful, nostalgic mess everywhere this year. Dedicate a sizeable chunk of January to obsessively checking eBay for old sheets of obscure typefaces, patterns and Paddington Action Transfers.
Meditation — The new year is probably going to be a horrible pile of deadlines and invoice-chasing and drizzle, so when it’s all getting a bit much, calm your mind with a guided meditation app such as Calm or Headspace. (Alternatively, closing your eyes and listening to Arvo Pärt’s Spiegel im Spiegel on loop for an hour also does the trick.)
Nature — Get a plant. Give it a name. Be nice to it.
Optimism — Political schadenfreude has become the lazy, easy option. Stop it. By all means continue to be distraught by the horrors of certain world leaders and national identity crises, but find some balance – dedicate more energy to seeking out and celebrating the people who make the world a better place. Find small wonders and amplify them.
Password — We now live in the distant future of 2018, a bewildering, science-fictional place full of robots and clones and pizza delivery drones. And yet for some reason, passwords still exist. Try to get on top of your archaic mess of letters and numbers and other characters by bundling them up with a password manager. Life is too short to have to remember more than one thing.
Quiet — Not every sense needs to be pushed to the limit every second of the day – sometimes it’s okay to put your headphones on and listen to absolutely nothing. See what you can create without the constant background hum of people and music and traffic and the universe.
Routine — It’s tempting to launch yourself into the new year all flailing and pumped. Take time to get yourself back into a calm and sensible routine; pace yourself and get some pattern and order to things. Structure your days and weeks and months. Make lists. Make way too many lists. Arbitrarily alphabetise some of them.
Stationery — Got all the pens you need? Are your pencils pointy-pointy? Is your stapler fully loaded? How are you for bulldog clips? Have you cleaned that gluey gunk off of your best scissors? Look after your stationery and your stationery will look after you.
Three hundred and sixty five … something — Now would be the time to start that daily project thing you spent all of last year contemplating. A daily doodle, photograph, robot, haiku, tattoo, noise, whatever.
Unsubscriptions — You spent 2017 signing up for way too many marketing emails. And you don’t actually read most of those newsletters that plink into your inbox, do you? Make an effort to scroll to the bottom and do some judicious unsubscribing. Unroll.me is rather handy for this.
Vinyl — Give all of your records a good clean. Maybe treat yourself to a new stylus. You don’t want to start the year with excessive crackle, no matter how warm you think it sounds.
Wardrobe — Do try to make an effort this year. Yes, you, the work-from-home freelancer in the Lebowski cosplay. Just because your bed-to-fridge-to-desk commute doesn’t require you to cross paths with any other humans, GET DRESSED. Nobody ever designed anything of any worth in their pyjamas.
X-Acto — Get yourself some proper tools. Learn how to cut and copy and paste in the real world. Make a mess. And maybe get some plasters in as well.
Youthquake — It’s still not clear what OED’s word of the year actually means, but it sounds like it might be a nutritious cereal bar of some kind. See if you can order a batch in for mid-morning snacks.
Zero — Respond to those last few emails still lingering from last year and empty that inbox. And while you’re at it, zero your favourites. And likes. And bookmarks. And pins. Zero everything. Everything. Start it all anew.
Written for Creative Review