One of the harder lessons I’ve had to learn as a disorganized person was how to use a planning calendar effectively. I LOVE planners, but I didn’t have very many “real” appointments, so most of the pages stayed blank year after year – and I constantly felt behind on things.
Now I use a weekly/monthly planner from Staples. Each day is divided into 15 minute segments. (You can download an undated version (weekly-planner-template-blank) for this exercise.)
In order to find out when you can schedule decluttering time, as well as other projects on your “to-do” list, take your planner pages and:
1. Pencil in all obligated time: These are tasks and activities that have a definite time when they take place. (For me this includes things like church on Sunday, choir practice, and appointments with clients.) Don’t forget to add in appropriate travel time! If you have an appointment from 2:00-3:00 p.m. and it takes 20 minutes to drive to that location, mark out from 1:30-3:30 p.m. in the planner
2. Next fill in stuff you have to do, but that does not have a specific time it must be done. This would be things like getting ready for the day (it takes me 45 minutes in the morning), grocery shopping, laundry/housework, daily exercise routine, walking the dog – whatever. For this exercise, block out the appropriate amount of time at the general time of day (in my getting ready for the day example, I block out 45 minutes sometime in the morning).
3. At this point, you can see where you can plug in other projects, like decluttering and hobbies. Think about how often you can realistically tackle these tasks and start penciling them in.
4. And finally, if there are things you want to do “someday,” put those in your planner as well. (I use pencil and schedule stuff like that a week, a month or a year down the line. Now it is no longer a lost dream – it’s in the planner and will be revisited at a later date. At that time, I re-evaluate: Is this still something I want to pursue? Is it time yet?)
Most of us don’t have a very accurate picture of the time we have – or don’t have! By using the planner to schedule the activities you say you will do or even just want to do, you can tell people who ask for your time, “I’m sorry, but I’m not available.” No other reason is necessary!
The bottom line is that using a calendar is key for staying in control of your schedule. You have an “out” when someone tries to put you on the spot for their plans and activities – you get to say, “I have to check my calendar and get back to you.”
Never say “Yes” without checking the calendar!!
Do you have tips for effective use of a planner?
We’d love you to share them in the comments!
*For further reading about this topic, check out: Celebrating National I Forgot Day! by Lisa Mallis
Leanne Chesser says
I love my calendars and planners :). I use a color coded system. I learned two different ones that I tweaked and made my own. I use purple for spiritual things, green for work, business and finances, red for relationships, orange for personal growth (includes exercise, nutrition, self-care, learning,etc.), blue for surroundings (cleaning, washing my car, grocery shopping, etc.) and yellow for making a difference (volunteering, etc.). I put everything in my calendar using the appropriate color. And I mean everything. I schedule appointments, work hours, business tasks, exercising, cooking (I bulk cook for the week), family time, grocery shopping, quiet time . . . whatever I’m doing. That way, I’m committed to all the things I find important as though they’re regular appointments. And I can see at a glance what I need to do each day.
Brenda Spandrio says
Good suggestions, Leanne!
I use color for my Outlook calendar and you’re right, you can see at a glance the kinds of activities you have for the day.
Thanks for the tips!
Do you ever find that you want to rebel against your life being that scheduled? I love my planner, but I find if I plan things down to the minute like that, I start to get this rebellious streak and head to the pool instead! LOL!
Brenda Spandrio says
Thanks for stopping by, Lacy!
Actually we do NOT recommend scheduling down to the minute because of the reason you cited — we tend to rebel. The purpose of this exercise is to help people evaluate two things:
1) Are they over-involved (and perhaps over-optimistic) with activities and tasks to which they have agreed.
2) Where are pockets of time available of which they are not aware.
Your insight is appreciated!