… instead of just staring at it guiltily.
Maybe I should start with how NOT to use your calendar.
- Do NOT install a widget, rely on it to add events to your calendar, and then FORGET to turn on syncing and miss a 1-year-old’s birthday party. Seriously, do not do this.
- Do NOT buy and force yourself to use (for a month!) a dry-erase calendar with squares so tiny they are immediately filled by a single note or event.
- Do NOT try to color-code umpteen categories of events, activities, and other calendar-worthy items for a six-person family. If you insist on color-coding umpteen categories of calendar items, do NOT try to find a felt-tipped pen set with colors that correspond exactly to the color options on your calendar widget. Just don’t do that to yourself. No sane person would, right? I mean.. wait.. Ummmm.
- Do NOT decide that computer calendars are EVIL and revert to paper just because you might have done something like item #1, up there. If you prefer paper, go for it. But if you’ve been successfully sharing and syncing calendars with your significant other via the magic of computers + Internet, then a moment of frustration and personal scheduling failure shouldn’t ruin that system.
- Do NOT get your computer and smart phone all synced up and working in a system that is adequate and good only to waste your perfectly good weekend testing and tweaking five other calendar apps just to make sure you’re not missing out on something better. If it’s working, go with it.
Okay, now that we’ve covered those Thou Shalt Nots, let’s move on to some
Thou Shalts tips.
- Do: check your calendar daily. Otherwise, why have it? If you’re going to use it to store important reminders and so on, you need to let it work. And in order to work, you have to look at it.
- Do: turn off those auto-reminders that will pop up every ten minutes if you allow them to. Do you really need 6 reminders that you’re going on a bike ride with the family, when you’re already in the car on the way to the park, bikes loaded? No, you do not. Get some control of your devices, people.
- Do: Put everything on it.
- Do: make sure stuff syncs up. See #1 (in the first list).
- Do: Check it at some weekly point (preferably on a Sunday, or sometime early in the week) to get an overview of your time and what’s happening in your week.
- Do: DELETE STUFF from it! Just because something makes it on your calendar does NOT mean it has earned or deserves a spot there. Choose what goes on your calendar and choose what comes off your calendar. Just be sure to alert the related parties and update your calendar appropriately.
- Do: Block time out for priority work. Seriously, put your work on your calendar. Not just “work.” Put down the exact work you’re going to do, and when you’re going to do it. Then do what the calendar says. Doooo iiiiiit.
- Do: Be unavailable and inflexible for that time you’ve blocked out.
- Do: Offer alternatives when you have to institute the rule above. [Unless you don't want the person/obligation anywhere on your calendar, in which case just say no courteously and move on.]
- Do: Own your time. It’s yours. It’s the only thing you really can own. You’re the only one who can give it away to other people (or sell it). Don’t blame, don’t be a victim, don’t waste it, don’t hoard it, don’t misuse it. Value your time and decide what to do with it on your terms.