“I live by my calendar.”
A friend whose life is full with her own business, a husband who travels a lot, music and grandchildren uses her calendar to keep herself from going crazy. I bet a lot of you do, too, or you wouldn’t be reading a post about calendar management.
But even the most efficient among us can make mistakes with our calendar. Here are three to avoid:
We don’t look at it at the right times.
There are three important times to look at our calendar:
- In the evening as we wind up our day
- In the morning as the day starts
- Any time someone asks us to make a commitment
Even if we have made the first two a habit, we can be lacking on the third. Have you ever agreed to an invitation (i.e. I’m pretty sure that will work”) without taking your physical calendar out to check? Then later, you realize you shouldn’t have said yes. It’s better to always say, “Let me check my calendar” and be sure you really can add that event or outing.
We neglect to plan for down time.
White space in a calendar is very important. But a blank space doesn’t necessarily mean “I’m free to fill this.” For example…maybe you have a wide-open Saturday morning and afternoon, but you have dinner plans. Just because the early part of the day looks “free,” do you want to fill it up if you are also going to be out all evening? A wise calendar planner allows for down time without apology.
We don’t mark out the non-negotiables ahead of time.
If something is important to you, such as exercise time, or a monthly friends night out, or quarterly getaways, get it marked ahead of time on your calendar.* Some of the best calendar planners are always thinking six to 18 months ahead to block off trips, special celebrations, etc. Then, as other opportunities come to you, you can fill them in around these very important commitments.
How about you? What mistakes have you made with YOUR calendar? Let me know!
*A caveat…it is great to lock in your priorities, but not to the point of being too rigid. Here’s an example, based on a true story.
Let’s say you have a colleague that you would really like to get together with regularly (i.e. a monthly lunch) and they seem eager to do so as well. But every time you invite them, they always have a personal excuse not to make it happen (i.e. “Sorry, I always workout at lunch time.”) I know someone who basically gave up trying to connect with another person because although they showed interest, they never were willing to flex on a personal activity to accommodate an occasional time together. Don’t let your non-negotiables be so rigid that you miss out on other rich experiences.
My thanks to Greenville Office Supply for supporting this theme month on calendars.
How do you feel when you look at your calendar? Does it stress you out? Or do you feel reasonably fulfilled by the commitments you’ve made?
Part of my April Theme Month on the topic of calendars is to introduce you to my new course, Conquer Your Calendar. Each week, I’ll give you a reason for joining into HOPE Academy and being part of this course, specifically.
Reason number 1: Conquer Your Calendar will show you some of the motivating factors as to why you put something on your calendar in the first place. Event on our calendar aren’t just appointments we’ve made…nearly every item on your calendar says something about YOU. There’s a “why” behind the “what” you put on your calendar. You’ll get to see some of the major motivating factors as part of this course.
And click here to answer one question about how your calendar makes you feel. I’ll share the results in a later post!
Do you ever say that to someone and then promptly forget to utter a prayer for them? Worse yet, in a few days they say, “Thanks for your prayers…this is an update.” Gulp. You intended to pray, but your busy life and work distracted you.
There is a tool out there that manages our work (and personal life.) A calendar. So why not utilize it for your prayer life too?
Here are some ideas for how to use a tool such as Google calendar to keep better track of items you wish to pray about.
- Create a separate calendar. One thing I like about Google calendar is that you can create separate calendars for specific needs (i.e. menu planning, professional commitments, etc.) and layer the calendars for a full view as you wish. Color coding these layers is even better.
- Enter most requests on this calendar as “all day” events. This places the requests/topics at the top of your calendar. When you add in your other calendars, prayer items remain at the top.
- When appropriate, set an appointment for prayer before a particular event. For example, if you know a friend has an interview at 2:00 on a Tuesday, you can set an appointment for yourself to pray at 1:30. (You could also just note it as an all day appointment with the time, i.e. Sheila’s interview: 2:00.)
- Create recurring requests for items that you will pray about regularly. For example, you could have a daily prayer for a spouse, child, or other family member. Earlier this year, I set up specific requests based on Scriptures for my husband and son (I used sources such as what you can find searching “30 days of praying for your spouse/child.”) I used enough entries to create 90 days of Scripture prayers, setting each one up to recur every three months on the 1st, 2nd, etc.
- Utilize the “notes” section for more details. For example, I added the actual Scripture verses so they can prompt my prayer.
- Sprinkle in other recurring items. For example, if you’d like to pray for particular friends regularly, why not add them and have their name pop up every so many days? Or if you know of a specific concern that is ongoing (i.e. someone in the military, a couple having marriage troubles, a chronic health concern) you can use the recurring feature to remind you of that item on a regular basis. Bonus: you may be surprised how the timing of that prayer can be just right for them. Sometimes you may decide to let them know you prayed for them today and it is amazing how that encourages at just the right time!
- Set up a routine for reviewing your requests. I have Google calendar on my phone, and also have it sync with my Samsung calendar app. Many mornings, I start the day with some Bible and general reading in bed before I get up. In the Samsung app and my Google Now cards, I get an readable list of my calendar items for the day…a prayer list already in place.
- Be reminded throughout the day. If you keep Google calendar nearby (ie on your phone or desktop or sync it with something like Outlook) you’ll see these prayer items reside on the top of your calendar throughout the day. This is a nice prompter for those conversational or quick “breath” prayers.
You may be busy, but you can still pray. With a strategic process for remembering requests, you too can stay connected with the Lord on behalf of others even while juggling a busy schedule.
For details on the freebie, raffle and more, click here.
As we wrap up the month, I want to give you three reflection questions that will also prepare you for a special theme month coming up in April at BethBeutler.com. Our theme will be “All Things Calendar.” Each of our postings, and much of our social media content, will be focused on how to use your calendar in the most effective way. We’ll be having a drawing for a couple of great prizes from our sponsor, Greenville Office Supply. More details coming your way soon!
In the meantime, here are three questions for you to reflect on for THIS month:
1. Did you use a calendar to plan your time?
2. How effectively did your calendar usage assist you in being productive and stress free?
3. What is one thing that was on your calendar in March that looking back, you realized now should have been taken off?
I hope you’ll take some time with these questions so that you can make your calendar work better for you in April.
Contact me with any questions you’d like to see addressed or tips you want to see during All Things Calendar.
Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Ps. 90:12 NIV
Tip: Desk Fun
Image: I received this tape dispenser as a door prize at an event at Greenville Office Supply.