This is the time of year when we start to think about next year’s calendar. If your calendar isn’t working or if you’re looking for a change next year, here are some ideas.
1. Find what works for you. Fancy calendars and electronic organizers may seem impressive, but they may not fit your needs. If you’re having trouble finding a calendar, I suggest starting simply. Buy a pocket month-by-month paper calendar, and use a small notebook for your “to do” list and other lists. These small items fit easily in your purse or pockets. If you find you need more space on each date, try a week-by-week paper calendar. If that isn’t working for you either, try a customizable, three-ring binder calendar with inserts like the systems from Franklin-Covey or Day-Timer. If you are very techno-savvy, try a personal digital assistant (PDA) like a Blackberry or iPhone. They are great because you can sync the information and have an electronic back-up, but they can be annoying because it takes more time to find your information. Also, they can run out of power or break just when you need them. There are also online calendars like Google and Plaxo, but you have to be around a computer a lot to make them worthwhile.
2. Don’t have too many calendars. You’ll want to get in the habit of looking at your calendar every morning. Looking at three or four calendars will become cumbersome and will throw a wrench into your system. Try to have one personal calendar (for your work and home lives) that you carry all the time. Then have a big family wall calendar, if you need one.
3. “Garbage in, garbage out.” You may have heard this saying about accounting, databases, or software. It means that the system is only as good as the information you put into it, and it applies to calendars as well. If you want to get a handle on your schedule, commit to writing all of your appointments in it. Include the start time, end time, name of event, brief location, and phone number (in case you have to cancel).
4. Give it a chance. A new system will take several weeks to get used to. I suggest giving a calendar at least two months. If you’re having problems, analyze why it’s not working, and consider buying a new calendar that fits your needs. There are hundreds of options out there, so I’m sure you’ll be able to find exactly what you need!