Calendar 101

I have a calendar obsession. Seriously. I purchase a new month at a glance calendar not once, but twice a year. I pick out a new school-year calendar every July to begin using in August. Come December, I buy one to begin using in January. Let me tell you, it is quite a process when I buy a new calendar. It involves online research as well as time spent in multiple stores so I can actually put my hands on them. It takes me as long longer to pick out a calendar as than it takes most people to buy a new car.

Picking out and purchasing a new calendar is a big deal for me and rightfully so… used wisely, your calendar can be a priceless tool.

It can serve as your:

Personal assistant

Brain

Social chairman

Marriage counselor

Personal trainer

Money manager

Productivity secret weapon

Prayer partner

…you get the picture.

You might be a digital calendar person. Bare with me and discover how a paper calendar can rock your world.

Start with a MONTH AT A GLANCE calendar, prepare to be amazed. Have you dreamed of knowing where you are supposed to be, when to be there AND arrive on time. Giddy up!

My personal calendar specifications are as follows:

  • Again, it has to be month at a glance
  • If it includes pages for each day, be aware that it will add weight and you want it small enough and light enough to take it everywhere
  • 7 inch by 9 inch minimum
  • 9 inch by 11 inch maximum
  • Space for each day (date box) 1 ½ inch by 1 ½ inch minimum
  • Tab for each month
  • Enough space at the top of each page for writing a horizontal list
  • “Notes” space on the left or right hand side

Your calendar is a visual representation of your life, your passion and your priorities. Use one, I repeat- use ONE calendar for yourself and your family. If you have things written in multiple places, it will defeat the purpose of this method. Additionally, only write in pencil on your calendar!

Let’s dig in: Open up to the current month. At the very top, keep a list of your ongoing jobs, elected offices, volunteer roles, any big events you are working on that month, etc. These are called your “dailies”. They need attention every day. Are you running out of space to write them all down? Guess what?! It’s time to start quitting some things! You need to take a few things off your list. Eliminate roles and responsibilities that aren’t in alignment with your personal mission and priorities.

If you have a specific “goal of the month” you are working on, (such as drink ___ ounces of water) it can also be listed with the dailies (maybe even highlighted). If you have a daily personal mantra or scripture, find a prominent place to write it. Examples:

Who will I bless today?

Be a blessing today.

Dream big.

Conquer your fears.

In the space for each day (date box), write down every deadline, meeting, practice, performance…. and a time. Keep them chronological. For instance, an 8:00 am meeting should be written near the top of the date box. A 7:00 pm soccer practice should be written at the bottom. If you have to use your eraser to keep it chronological, it is totally worth it.

Every time you hear or read about something that needs to be done on a certain day or something that is scheduled for a certain day, write it on that “date box” immediately.

Let your calendar help you achieve balance. When a particular date box starts to fill up- NO MAS! That day is full- just say NO to other commitments. If you struggle to say “no”, read Lysa TerKeurst’s “The Best Yes”. It will change your life!

REMEMBER: when scheduling back-to-back commitments, plan for travel/preparation time. If one meeting ends at 10:00 am on one side of town and the next one starts at 10:00 am on the other side of town, you either need to change one of the start times, or, inform the person leading the 10:00 am meeting that you will be late. Your calendar can help you arrive on time to every commitment. Please be on time. Being late is rude 😉

If you have certain things you do on certain days of the week, write them above the day, example: Above Friday, I write “purse/car” meaning every Friday I clean out my purse and car. About once a month I have my car washed/detailed on a Friday.

Look at your calendar every night. Ask yourself these questions:

1) What can I do tonight to prepare for tomorrow?

2) Does my calendar reflect my purpose and passion?

Block-out time for self-care (down time, exercise, meal/snack times, hair appointments, journal time, date night, etc). If you don’t write down your self-care “recharge time”, it won’t happen.

If you work from home, block out “office hours”. Otherwise, when people message you to schedule a breakfast meeting, a lunch, a volunteer obligation, etc.,  you will say  yes because you are “available at that time”. What a bummer when 5:00 rolls around and you have completed zero income producing activities!

If you have a family, block out time to spend together. If sitting down for family dinner at the table is important to you- plan it. Write it on your calendar and be fiercely protective of that special time. If you are married, date nights are mandatory! Schedule them weekly if you can, monthly at the very least.

For a running to-do list, keep a 4 inch x 8 inch lined sticky note on your calendar. Start a new one each Sunday. The sticky note to-do list is for tasks that aren’t already on your “dailies” list or on a particular “date box”. These are things that need to get done, but aren’t required to be completed on or by a particular date/time.

Anything that can be done in less than 5 minutes, just do it. If you are crazy in love with marking things off your list, just do it, THEN write it down so you can still mark it off. Hahahaha!

On the first day of each month, set aside a little time (15-20 minutes) to get your calendar ready. Write down your dailies, choose your mantra, move your sticky note to-do list to the new month. Begin each month with an empty “notes” section. Use this space to jot down dreams, ideas, movies to watch, books to read, date night ideas, prayer requests, a list of friends with whom to connect, etc.

In conclusion, the goal of mastering calendar 101 is not to cram more things into your life, it is to prioritize and plan so you can create space for your purpose and passion.

Do you have any questions about time management? Email me at jennmilroy@entremoms.com! I would love to hear from you.

“Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people, but wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:15-17

Be a blessing today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Busy

Busy. Try to go one day without saying that word. You might be surprised by how often you use it. I confess, I am guilty of using “that word” too often.

To re-frame your relationship with “busy”, think of it as a dirty, bad and inappropriate 4-letter-word.

When someone asks us how we are doing, and we reply “busy”, do we lament the fact that we are busy? Or, do we wear it as a badge of honor? Do we say we are busy because we think  it makes us special? Please tell me we don’t think we are showing off by saying we are busy!

When someone tells me how busy they are, I automatically want to help them be less busy, because I assume they want to be less busy. However, I have found that many most people don’t want to be less busy. Many people feel that busy is the opposite of lazy. Some people actually relish the overwhelm and chaos. Could this be a form of self sabotage?

One thing is for sure, we all have the same 168 hours each week. We get to decide how to spend those precious hours. Laura Vanderkam is a time management ninja. She is phenomenal. From her, I learned that we have enough time to do the things we WANT to do. We had the opportunity to interview her for the entremoms podcast recently.  You should listen! http://entremoms.com/show-12-laura-vanderkam

I am a fanatic of all things productivity and time management related. However, I like to keep it simple. Very simple. Do you want to know the trick to being less busy? Here is my super-secret, profound and brilliant solution (sarcasm):

DO LESS STUFF.

Period. Do you want to know how to do less stuff? When your are asked to do things that you don’t feel you have time for, that overwhelm you, that you will have to show up late for and THEN be late for your next commitment, or you just don’t want to do- just say no!  You are the boss of you. When you say yes- remember you are saying no to other, possibly more important, things.

If your days are filled with meaningful, purpose-driven tasks and commitments… fantastic!  However, this isn’t usually the case. More often than not, people (particularly women) fill their days / non-work hours with commitments simply because they can’t say “no”. Learn to be fiercely protective of your time. Slay the “beast of busy” by saying no to things that don’t align with your personal goals and mission. Ask yourself:

Is (whatever thing you’ve been asked to do) the best way for me to serve others with my time, gifts and talents?

If the answer is no, try this response:

No, but thank you for thinking of me.

That is ALL. No explanation. No apology.

I’m not exaggerating when I tell you mastery of this teeny-tiny-2-letter-word can transform your life. I am working on this very thing. I am a work in progress. I can’t say I am in remission, but I am in recovery. Compared to this time last year, I say “no” exponentially more often. It has truly been life changing for me. I am less stressed, more intentional and making time for things I previously thought I was to b@%y for.

If you had an extra hour every day, how would you spend it? Then put it on your calendar! Block out an hour to (whatever you want to do).

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every person under heaven.” Ecclesiates 3:1

Be a blessing today.