One Life – One Calendar
As the year winds down, now is a good time to evaluate the calendar system you are using. Many of my clients initially resist the practice of One Life - One Calendar, which is a tenet I suggest (enforce, really) they live by.
Many people have multiple locations and venues to track where their obligations lie. This leads to missed appointments, double booking, and the time-consuming process of “I’ll have to get back to you.”
The tool that you decide to use as your One Calendar is a personal preference. However, the following guidelines will ensure your success:
One Life - One Calendar.
You need one trusted location to coordinate all of your appointments and obligations. This is a must. If your primary calendar is your company-provided electronic calendar, then that calendar must also reflect your personal obligations.
This is a big fat “no way" for many of my clients. “I don’t want my boss to know my personal appointments…” If the appointment occurs during the workday, your boss already knows, because they approved it. To work around that concern with your colleagues, block the time furtively as “Joe S. instead of Dr. Smith.” You know Joe S. is your doctor, but your colleagues don’t.
That means that your weekend activities, children’s schedules, and after hours appointments are all entered into one location. In this way, you can track what adjustments have to be made to work or play in order to fulfill your appointments.
Sync this calendar to your smartphone or print it.
Keep it with you!
In order to schedule efficiently, your calendar needs to be with you all the time. This is critical to staying on top of your obligations. If your calendar is in your smartphone, this is simple. Our phones are pretty much with us 24/7. If you leave home without your cell phone, you will turn around and go back. I often site that by contrast you could leave a small child at home and your attitude would be "She'll be fine, she's very mature." Cell phone, "Where can I pull a Uie?"
If using a printed version of your electronic calendar, the same rule applies. Keep it with you. Pencil in appointments on the paper copy, update it to your electronic calendar, and then reprint it.
If you have free reign of your calendar choices, then your first step is to choose an app or tool that you really like. You need to LIKE the appointment entry process and the viewing format. If you don’t, you will not use it. If it is too awkward or troublesome to enter the appointment in the moment, you are back to missing appointments.
Google Calendar is gaining in popularity because of its anywhere access and family-sharing capabilities. CalenGoo is the app version of Google calendars. Other popular apps AnyDo, Event Book and, Calvetica Calendar are also good choices. Ask friends or colleagues what apps they are using. Then test-drive one for ease of entry and viewing/printing options. If you decide you ultimately don’t like it, abandon it and find something that works for you.
Paper still works!
Many of my clients are concerned that I am going to ban them from using their tried and true paper calendaring systems. There is nothing wrong with a paper calendar. Paper calendars afford a ton of flexibility and options; however, the system still needs to follow the above stated guidelines, plus a few additional ones:
If the paper calendar is part of a larger planner system, that planner needs to be a size, shape, and heft you can carry with you at all times.
Make sure you can read what you write. Don’t let poor handwriting, or hastily written entries be the reason you are late or missing appointments.
The week/month view should start on Monday. This way the weekend is one unit.
Use reminders sparingly.
The temptation to “set a reminder” in your app or electronic calendar is huge. The theory being that the app will remind you a few hours or minutes before your next appointment. The problem with this is that there is no guarantee that the reminder will allow you to be more prepared for an upcoming event.
A better practice is to simply know your schedule:
Monthly - Look at your calendar to identify “big ticket items” travel, off-site meetings, project commitments, and the general relationship of each week’s obligations to another.
At least once a week - Review your upcoming week to get a general sense of what the week looks like.
Nightly - Familiarize yourself with your meetings, appointments, due dates for tomorrow.
Daily - Schedule appointments as soon as they hit your plate to become aware of conflicts.
Using good calendaring techniques is a principle of getting organized. Being better organized simply makes your life easier!