By Lynn Walsh, RTDNA Contributor
"New year, new you." This shouldn’t just apply to your personal life. The beginning of a new calendar year is the perfect time to update your address book and prepare for the year ahead.
Below are some things I do to help get the year started off right. Doing these tasks keeps me organized but in the end it also saves me time and makes my life a little bit easier.
Update contact lists From elected officials to secretaries and everyone in between, make sure you have the most up-to-date contacts in your phone, e-mail and the newsroom. Be sure that if contact information has changed for someone you speak with often you let others in the newsroom know too.
Set your calendar Make deadlines for big stories. Start planning out the calendar for what you would like to work on. Even if it is not something that will air or publish right away, schedule time to work on the projects, even if it is just a few hours here and there. Plug in big holidays, award shows, sporting events and city meetings you know will be covered. Start thinking about how you can cover them differently. Think enterprise.
Update FOIA requests This is one of my favorite things to do. There are certain databases that you should have on hand all the time: employee and salary lists, customer complaint databases, etc. Having these on hand is helpful to add context to daily stories and can be especially helpful in breaking news situations. But, if they are out of date, how helpful can they be. Set calendar reminders to request the most recent information that exists.
Back up social media and files I love that everything is digital, it makes life a lot easier. But what happens if it stops working? Be sure to backup your Outlook, twitter feeds, Facebook and export contacts from your phone and email.
Consider follows and anniversaries When planning for the year do not forget about some of the big stories you have covered in the past. If it was a big story then, I am sure people want to hear about any new updates. Plan for anniversaries of major world, national and local events. How can you make it different and the best for your market?
Schedule time off I know it is easier said than done, but the year goes by so quickly and before you know it you haven’t had a vacation. Disconnecting and taking a break will only help you throughout the year. Keeping in mind any ratings periods or big court cases you may be covering, schedule your vacations early, so you take them. Once they are on the calendar it is a lot harder to cancel them. Your future self will be thanking you in the end.
These all take some time to do, but in the end it will be worth it when a breaking news situation is upon you or when you are crunching on deadline and need answers quickly.
Have anything to add to this list? Let me know on Twitter or in the comments below.
Lynn Walsh is an Emmy award-winning journalist currently producing stories for the E.W. Scripps National Digital Desk. She loves holding the powerful accountable and spends more time than she would like fighting for access to public information. Follow her on Twitter, @LWalsh and on Tumblr.
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