Day 30: Calendar and Schedule
The most successful and productive people keep close watch over their calendars and schedule. We can’t always control everything, but with a carefully guarded calendar, we can plan and organize our time, increase our efficiency, and maintain our sanity.
Just like an address book, a calendar can come in many different forms—paper or digital, or even mobile. Some of us prefer to use different calendars for different activities—for example, the family calendar in your control center may not hold your business meetings and your office calendar may not reflect your upcoming anniversary or doctor’s appointment.
It is important to find a method that works best for you and stick to it. The most effective calendar is, of course, one that you use and update regularly. If that means a Google calendar that syncs with your smartphone, great! If that means a paper calendar you keep in your pocketbook, fine! Simply use it and maximize it as a tool.
Regardless of what method you use to manage your calendar, it is important to realize that how you fill it depends on your ability to set limits and boundaries. The best calendar app in the world won’t cure an overbooked schedule if the real problem is your inability to say no. Decluttering your schedule means figuring out what to cut out of your schedule, not what to add in.
Only say yes to the things that are most important to you, and ruthlessly cut out the rest. Practice the art of saying no graciously, and don’t commit out of guilt or obligation if the task doesn’t align with your priorities. If you do want to commit to something, calendar it—make time for it and stick to it.
Objective: A calendar to help you schedule tasks and manage time usage wisely.
Assess the current situation: How are you currently spending your time? What activities provide the most amount of stress? What could you cut out without guilt? What do you see as the most effective calendar method for you? How can you maximize the usage of that calendar?
1. Decide on a calendar. Will you use a paper planner? A wall calendar? Google calendar? An app? Pick one single calendar to plan your activities, then stick with it so nothing gets lost.
2. Assess your priorities. What are the things that are most important to you? These are the things that should take up the most time on your schedule.
3. Clear out the unessential. Immediately eliminate from your schedule anything that does not align with your priorities. Stop saying yes when you want to say know. Cancel appointments or activities that you don’t actually need or want to keep.
4. Make a list of the things you want and need to do—be as specific as possible for each day. Gather all scraps of paper, such as notes or appointment cards into one central location so that they can be documented.
5. Block out time on your calendar for each activity with an estimated time. Build in free or empty time as buffers. Include any items that seem important like going to the gym, grocery shopping, driving your child to an appointment, and, of course “family time.”
6. Maintain and update. At the end of each day, review your calendar, move any incomplete items forward and review time estimates and any previously expected events. Follow the calendar to help manage your time and commit to updating the information regularly.