Welcome to Week 3 of the Momof6 Get Your Life Organized Boot Camp! We are going to spend this week talking about calendars and to-do lists…. and while we all likely already use a calendar and to-do lists in one form or another, I think that it is good to step back and examine whether or not the system you are using really works for you.
We're going to mix things up a little during this week's Boot Camp. Today we are going to focus on what makes a great calendar system. On Wednesday we will cover some tips for to-do lists, and on Friday I invite you to link up here on Momof6 along with some of our other Boot Camp bloggers, to share your posts on calendar and to-do list systems that work for you. So let's get started!
5 Things A Great Calendar System Should Have!
1. A calendar should give you flexibility in terms of how you access your information
I happen to be a big fan of a using an electronic calendar because it allows the flexibility to access it when you are on the go. My calendar is available on my laptop, my iPad, and on my smartphone, and I have one of these items with me pretty much at all times- so I can always see what is on my schedule, and add or change appointments on my calendar.
Now I know that some of you love a wall calendar because you need to be able to see it in your kitchen. But I must ask you to consider- how often do you want to schedule something and you have to answer, “I don't know, let me check once I get home and look at my calendar”? Or how often do you write down appointments and notes on pieces of paper that then have to be transferred to your wall calendar? Or if you have a wall calendar that you can take down and carry with you- do you ever worry that perhaps you'll misplace it while you are out running errands and can you imagine how crazy your life would be if you ever lost that calendar? (Gives me the shivers just thinking about it!)
2. A calendar should have the ability to print
Equally as important to me as having it accessible everywhere, it is the ability to print a hard copy that makes an electronic calendar actually work for me. I can print a copy of an entire month, or just a week, and put that up on my wall for the entire family to see (and this is what replaces a wall calendar at my house), but more importantly- I can print my calendar in a list format.
This becomes the starting point for my weekly to-do list (which we will review on Wednesday). This printed format allow me to show the events and appointments on the left side of the page, and I keep the right side of the page empty- so I can write in other tasks and to-dos that I would like to accomplish.
3. A calendar should have the ability to easily add events that occur over and over again
An electronic calendar makes it easy for you to add an entire soccer season's schedule of Thursday afternoon practices from 4-5:30 without having to write each one down individually. It also makes it easy for you to change the time and location of just one event, or you can move the entire schedule to Fridays with just a few clicks on the computer. I appreciate a system that does some of the work for you! (I hate erasing and re-writing!)
4. A calendar should have the ability to easily color code activities
I like to color code my calendar by the type of appointment or event- such as personal vs work-related. I also have a separate calendar with a different color that outlines recurring household chores. And I know that as my kids get older, I will likely create a separate color-coded calendar for each of them, and then allow them to sync their schedules with my electronic calendar. It will be a good way for us to keep track of each other's activities!
5. A calendar should have the ability to have an extra (back copy) and to share copies easily
As I mentioned earlier, the very idea of losing my calendar SCARES me! I keep so much detail in my calendar system, that if it were gone tomorrow- my family and I might be wandering around aimlessly for weeks! So I appreciate the security in knowing that it is backed up (on the Cloud!), and that it exists on multiple devices. And it is also very helpful that I can share my calendar with my husband- and he can see it on his smartphone too.
But which calendar would be right for you?
I decided to use Apple iCal's system a few years ago when my husband gave me an iPhone for my birthday, and then convinced me to switch to a Mac computer when my Dell Windows PC was on its last breath. Since iCal was pre-loaded on both devices, it was the simplest thing to do. But even all of these years later, after examining several other electronic calendars, I keep coming back to iCal over the others for one main reason- I feel that it offers the best print outs! Most electronic calendars do a great job of syncing to multiple devices, offering the color coding feature, making it easy to schedule recurring events, but very few give good options for printing out your calendar- and for me, that is one important feature!
But I know that iCal isn't going to be everyone's first choice, especially if you are not an Apple user…. so I wrote a post on the 6 Best Family Calendars that highight some of the other great options that are available. And if you are not quite convinced that using a family calendar is for you- well allow me to share with you 5 Ways that Using a Family Calendar Can Improve Your Life!
Ready for this week's homework?
This week I would like to for you to take a good hard look at the calendar system that you are using to run your life. Does it still work for you? Does it give you the ability to access it wherever and whenever you need it? Is it easy to use- doing some of the work for you? If not, maybe this is the week for you to take some time and re-examine your calendar system.
Please leave a comment here today sharing what kind of calendar system you are using and tell us how happy you are with it! And I will see you here on Wednesday when we will cover to-do lists!