Do you sometimes feel like your brain is going to explode from all the hangouts/ events/ classes, etc. that you’re trying to keep track of? Do you feel like a bad friend/ partner/ parent if you drop the ball? I come bearing good news; calendars are here to help!
Yes, I know you’re rolling your eyes; you’ve tried and you’ve tried but no matter what, the ball eventually gets dropped. I would argue that in a lot of cases your scheduling system is failing because it’s not right for you. And making use of a system that will never work for you will bring you to the brink of insanity. Read below for 4 steps to help you figure out which system(s) will work for you:
Choose Your Scheduler(s): When it comes to scheduling, there are many, many different formats. You can go with online, planner, paper calendar, whiteboard, etc. I often have clients who tell me that in no uncertain terms are they going to switch to digital scheduling. This elicits more questions: has this system worked for them? If not, why not? Are they at home or with their planner most of the time when plans are being made? Are they constantly having trouble keeping up with plans? It’s all about getting to the root of the disconnect.
The important thing to remember is that no matter what you choose, unless you’ve been using that method all along, it’s going to take some time to work out the kinks and form your own habits. Give yourself a few weeks to ease into your new system; don’t give up right away.
The Argument for Online: The ability to share your calendar with the important people in your life will make things easier, plain and simple. When it comes to online scheduling options, there are the giants like Google Calendar, Outlook and iCal, as well as many smaller apps. My argument for using one of the bigger outfits is that they make it easier to share your calendar with others. As an Apple user, my iCal has separate accounts for my work and life. And better yet, it syncs with my husband’s Google Calendar. Another benefit of the bigger options are that they sync with many different events. For example, if you make a dinner reservation online it gives you the option to automatically download the details to your calendar. The same goes for flights and tickets to events.
The most important question I ask my clients about digital scheduling is if they understand it / know how to use it. It seems intuitive but it’s confusing for some and that is why people often fail at using it.
Non-Digital Options: Although a fair majority of people now use online calendars, there are still those who make use of planners, paper calendars and whiteboard calendars. In my home, we have a digital schedule AND a whiteboard calendar on our fridge. It’s nice to see vacations and birthdays on the calendar whenever I go to grab something from the fridge.
For my older clients who use paper schedulers, all the power to them. For my younger clients clutching their planners close to their chests, I like to press the issue a bit; has it been a problem? Do they often find themselves without their planners when plans are being made? If not, no problem but if yes, how can we find a middle ground? For some people it doesn’t matter but for certain others, they need a bit of a push to go digital, at least partly. I’ve had clients switch from using only planners to putting events on their calendars while still keeping a planner for daily tasks; a to do list of sorts.
Do I Need a Weekly Calendar? Clients often ask if they should go for a weekly or monthly option for a fridge whiteboard calendar and my answer depends on the client I’m working with. For those of my clients who have children, I suggest weekly because there wouldn’t be space on a monthly board for all of the children’s activities. And if you’re doing it for the purposes of meal planning, it’d be hard to see when meals would be needed. I love Quick Canary’s Magnetic Weekly Dry Erase Board, which comes with four different colored markers and a magnetic eraser. Sitting down on a Saturday or Sunday and planning out the week ahead on your calendar is a great way to get a grasp on what is happening.
More important than whether you use a digital or paper option for scheduling is that you choose a system(s) and stick with it! The goal is that over time you schedule by rote, no brainpower involved.
Try my tips above and let me know how it goes! You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow me on Instagram @toritheorganizer.