A few ideas to help you have a happier year

Many of us think of the New Year as a clean slate. We start a new calendar, make resolutions, pop champagne, and a few days later, jump into a January of slightly elongating days with a fresh hope that this year we can begin again, and do it all better. I really love thinking about and making new year's resolutions and how I want to focus my precious time and energy this year.

Here are some ideas, just a few little changes you can make to improve your health, life, and happiness over the next year.

Use your tools

You've probably got a computer and a smart phone. And I bet you spend plenty of time using them. But are you using them well?

A great grocery list app can reduce the number of trips you make to the store, and the amount of cash you spend on groceries. Mint is a fantastic money app to keep track of your cash, create (and stick to) a budget, and plan for the future. TripIt can keep your travel plans organized and makes it easy to share that info with the people who need to know. Doodle can help you easily schedule group meetings (or just dinner with friends). If you're balancing a family with multiple schedules, use Cozi to get everyone to the right place at the right time.

Taking full advantage of the technology at hand can actually simplify your life.

Say no

You've heard this before, no doubt. But this year actually do that. Your time and energy are valuable commodities, spend them carefully. If you have trouble saying no, practice it. Really. It helps to be prepared with a reply that is kind, but still conveys a firm, "No." You can find some ideas here. My personal favorite is, "Thank you so much for thinking of me, but this project sounds wonderful, and there is no way I could do it justice with my schedule right now."

Practice mindfulness

Whatever you're doing, just do that. I'm the worst when it comes to doing two or three things at once: I'm checking email while I eat breakfast and at the same time planning what I'll make my daughter for lunch. But I know that when I do just one thing and pay attention, my mind is calmer and I finish the task more quickly. It also allows me to enjoy things more fully, such as spending time with my daughter on our walks to and from school.

Schedule regular massage

Massage is known to reduce stress, alleviate pain, and enhance the quality of sleep. All good things. If you think you can't spare the time or funds for massage, consider this: what's it worth to give your family, friends, and coworkers a happier, more productive YOU? (A lot. It's worth a lot.) Regular can mean weekly, monthly, or quarterly. Whatever works for you is just fine, but stick to it.

Happy new year!