We are living life in the fast lane which means our schedules seem to full up faster than we can blink and are bursting at the seams. Whether you are a student, a stay-at-home mom with a side hustle or working in corporate, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and frustrated with deadlines, meetings, conference calls and juggling it all with your social and family life. Who hasn’t felt that icy ‘drop’ in the pit of your stomach when you suddenly realise you’ve forgotten to complete an assignment or to work on that new client pitch? Or maybe every weekend when Sunday evening rolls around, your mind goes into overdrive trying to remember your agenda and plan for the week ahead.
We know that last minute cramming and scrambling to get tasks done or double booking yourself is unproductive and stressful and unless you have super human memory, you aren’t going to be able to remember recent nor future plans. A simple solution to boost your planning skills is to invest in a calendar. Check out different calendar options here.
A calendar on its own won’t do you much good; it’s how you use it that will determine your scheduling success. We have put together some savvy tips on how to stay on top of your busy calendar:
- Find your Rhythm
Our lives tend to fall into definite patterns or routines. Some of these are already set in stone, like the seasons or your quarterly follow up meetings. Others are more erratic like the daily weather or sudden changes in your weekly work schedule. Whether your routine changes through the year or not, it’s time to get creative with how you will slot it into your calendar. For example, start by blocking out and colour-coding days and times on your calendar for definite work arrangements, sport days, anniversaries and so on. Then look at pre-scheduled month to month commitments and then weekly. Keep a labelled Key on the side so you know what each colour represents.
This can be grouping blocks of a certain colour together to represent tasks. For example, all the time blocks that have a blue dot on them can represent out-of-office client meetings while the pink sparkly blocks remind you about AGMs with the moms. Here’s a tip if you are using a physical calendar, first draft everything out in pencil so it’s easy to make changes. Then get to colour-coding and personalising your life.
- Optimise your Time
This is one for people who need to be extra tenacious with their time due to a heavy work demand and not a lot of spare time. The best way to plan for this is to already allocate estimated time periods in advance for certain, inevitable tasks. For example, setting aside 3 hours on x day for a conference call with overseas clients or blocking out the three days you planned to take for leave. Having these future time slots available for specific tasks gives you some breathing room, flexibility and puts you at ease.
- Know your Availability
Saying yes to every invitation you get on a whim probably isn’t smart when you later realise that three of the events fall on the same day. Having your calendar up to date, colour coded and important dates accounted for means you can easily go back to it to check your availability and plans. Less disappointment all round.
It’s easy to scoff at the suggestion of trying out a calendar when you think you have it all figured out in your head. And it may seem like a lot of effort to plan your week, month or year when you have so much going on already. But planning to fail comes from failing to plan and once you have taken the time to organise your calendar diligently, it will play a powerful role in simplifying and de-stressing your life. It also leaves you feeling a great sense of ownership, relief and probably more productive too.