One of the first pieces of advice I was given about time management was to have one calendar. This calendar should serve as the one and only places where appointments, meetings, deadlines, and critical dates are noted and detailed. Over the years, I’ve tried hard to keep up with this “one calendar rule” because it makes a whole lot of sense. With one calendar, everything is in one place, there is no duplication and you can know what’s going on a specific day, week, and month. However, that’s easier said than done!
I have a terrible habit of writing things down on scraps of paper around the office, promising myself that I’ll get around to putting the information on my calendar at some point. I also still believe that my memory is like a well-oiled machine and will not fail me by letting me forget important information. Both of these bad habits spoil the positive effect of keeping one calendar for life’s events.
We aren’t just business people. We are creative people with lives full of family, friends, shopping adventures, and so much more. A single calendar can get rather crowded. I’ve noted that I have the worst handwriting in the world and many times, even though I’ve dutifully noted an appointment, I can’t read the place or time of the appointment!
I thought devices like the cell phone and iPads that have calendar and scheduling applications would help with keeping that one calendar. However, I often misplace my cell phone (like car keys) and when I turn on my iPad, I either want to make a movie or watch one. It’s tempting to push calendar and schedule organization to the side when you are a creative people. We just don’t want to be tied down to a calendar- it goes against our sense that we can get anything done, no matter how long we put off an assignment.
So where does that leave us? Even after over 25 years of business, I don’t have and easy answer. All I can say is that having one calendar is a solution that, with time, can become a good habit for our professional and business lives. I do keep a calendar on my cell phone, which allows me the ability to set an alarm for appointments and deadlines, and is basically back-up for my faulty memory banks.
Here are some key tips to keeping your calendar organized. And remember, just like any other organizational tool, you must learn to update and stay current with new time management tools.
- You can buy or make a calendar. It’s important that you find one that includes the next 3-6 months. For example your current calendar should show May to October. Calendars can be as small or large as you like.
- If you have a busy life, learn to color code your calendar. For example you might select green for deadlines, red for sales events, yellow for off-site appointments. Or you may decide to use blue for business, orange for kid’s appointments, and purple for family events. You are the only one needs to know what the colors stand for and what items will be part of your schedule, so color code in a way that is easiest for you to remember.
- Learn to immediately note on your calendar when an event, meeting, or appointment is set. Don’t write on your hand thinking you’ll go back to your calendar, document on the calendar first!
- Keep the calendar in one spot and don’t move it. I’ve got mine hanging right by my desk near the phone and computer since that is where I do most of my communicating. Others place their calendar on the refrigerator and I’ve got one friend that keeps hers in the garage.
- Learn to spend a few minutes with your calendar every day. I tend to look at it at the beginning of my work day. But many people make a point of updating their calendar at the end of the work day.
- Take advantage of calendar applications and software made for computers and personal devices like a cell phone or tablet. A wall calendar can’t sound an alarm 1 day or 15 minutes before a meeting. However, you can also print out your calendar by the day, week, month. I strongly advise everyone to keep a paper calendar. With wonderful technological advances, paperless calendars may be our future.
- If you have an active family, you may want to post a single calendar and allow all other family members to post their own appointments, deadlines, and events.Having a central calendar is a great way to keep up with all of your household needs.
- Calendars only work if you work them! Don’t get frustrated and give up! Just keep at it and it will become a habit that allows you to worry less, keep on track, and maybe even have some extra time just for yourself.