When I first meet with a client, I often hear these words “I hate my calendar”.
And I tell them that I can make them love their calendar.
Why? Let me tell you a little story.
When I started one of my first jobs after college, they made me take a class on planning and setting priorities. And, they gave me a brand new, shiny, Franklin Covey planner.
I fell in love with it in the very first class. I could make lists and check things off, which is one of my greatest pleasures in the world. It had daily, weekly and monthly calendars for the whole year. I could plan for all twelve months. It was so awesome, I kept that planner and used it until I got my iPhone (it was at least 15 years or more). But there was a problem with the planner that I never quite solved.
I didn’t have it with me all the time and I had to have other calendars to share with others. So, when I needed to let my husband know about an appointment or a change in kiddo practice times, there was a note on a big, shared calendar we kept on the wall in the kitchen. And when changes didn’t make it to the big, shared calendar, things would get crazy with missed appointments or someone showing up at the wrong time for practice. It was not a perfect system.
Then, the magic of smartphones solved all my calendar problems with shared, digital calendars. They could be color coded, which for a visual person like me, was heaven. And now when something changed, everyone had the change on their version of the calendar. It was awesome. I started to love my calendar.
I now have years of practice that have shown me the power of a shared calendar system. I have used them with my girls group to set up our monthly meeting times and keep track of birthdays. I have used them with work groups that are spread across time zones so that the meeting is one everyone’s calendar at the right time. I have used them to manage my to do list or to figure out the best time to publish this blog. They are the backbone of my business.
I share this power with my clients and I teach them how to create a shared calendar system that fits their lives.
When they have completed this work, they tell me wonderful stories of how they are able to manage change and shift appointments when things come up. They tell me about how they are more productive because they can see where they have extra time and can fit a new project in.
And yes, they tell me that they have fallen in love with their calendar.
So, how do you fall in love with your calendar?
1. Pick a shared calendar system to use. There are all kinds of options to choose from but I suggest starting simple. Google Calendar or iCal (Apple) are both great options to start. Make sure that all the people you want to share in your calendar can access it and are willing to use it. This only works if everyone buys in.
2. Determine if you will use multiple calendars or just one. Both Google and iCal will give you the option to have separate calendars for different things. For iCal, if you want to color code, you will need to do this. I recommend that you set up a calendar for each person who you will be sharing with and a calendar for anything that you want to be able to see separately. For families, I recommend a calendar for Husband, Wife, each kid, and work/business. Each person is a different color and you can see all their obligations.
3. Put everything on the calendar. By everything, I mean everything that will impact someone else in your day. Do you need 20 minutes to drive your son to practice? Put it on your calendar. Adding all those things that you normally wouldn’t think about, like travel time, will help you see where you can fit new things in and will keep you from over scheduling yourself. It will also help you see times when you have conflicts and help you reschedule them.
4. Remember that there will be growing pains when you first start out trying to use this system. Inevitably, someone will forget to put something on their calendar. Or you will underestimate how much time it takes to do something and you may cause a conflict with a task later in the day. The key here is to continue using the system and learning what works and doesn’t work and then revising your system. You are going for continuous improvement here not one time fix. And if time estimation is tripping you up, my next blog post will be all about how to estimate your time and what to do when your estimates are wrong.
If you want more in depth help on falling in love with your calendar, schedule a free consultation with me and we can discuss what systems best fit your world.
Just remember, your calendar isn’t designed to hurt you. It just wants to help you. Stay tuned for more helpful ideas and thanks for taking the time to read this. Let me know in the comments what your experiences have been and if you love or hate your calendar and if you liked this, please share it with your friends.