My calendar is one of my primary tools for staying organized and I’d be at a total loss without it. I always check it before I end my day, to be sure I remember what’s coming up the next day.
I happen to use an electronic calendar, but I’d put the same things on my calendar if it were a paper one. What is on it?
The basic reasons almost everyone uses a calendar
- Due dates
- Personal celebrations, like birthdays and anniversaries
- Holidays, including religious ones that don’t always come with the calendar
Unconventional items to track on a calendar
- Major local events — My small town has three annual events that draw a lot of visitors. I don’t tend to go to these events, but I want to remember that traffic will be horrible on these days.
- Events I might want to attend — I put these in a different color than any other items, so I have a visual reminder that it’s a possible event when I look at my calendar.
- Freecycle pickups — Since I freecycle a great deal, I may have lots of people coming to my house after each major offering, staggered over a number of days. I want to quickly remember whose bundles I need to put on my porch on which days.
- Library book return due dates
- Dates for canceling special offers — Every once in a while I get an offer for a free month of Amazon Prime, which I accept and then cancel before the automatic payment begins.
- Reminders to send out email notices — I serve as the secretary of an organization and I need to send out email notices to other board members at specific times.
- Important dates for close family and friends — It’s common for me to write down when they are on vacation.
- Flight information, car rental information, and hotel information for my own travels — I’ll have confirmations of all of these in email, which I’ll copy to my Dropbox to have handy when traveling. But, the easiest way for me to quickly see all this information is to check my calendar.
- Estimated tax due dates
- Reminder of postage rate increases — I noted this when we had one January 26.
- Things that happened that I didn’t plan for — For future planning, I like to remember when they happened.
Sometimes I include progress tracking toward a goal. For example, the number of emails in my inbox each day, as I’m working toward inbox zero.
There are a couple things I don’t include, which some other people do. I don’t include anticipated driving time to appointments, although I can see how that could be helpful. I also don’t include blocks of time for getting tasks done. Some time management systems recommend you schedule these on your calendar, to ensure they get done — and if that works for you, that’s great. I follow the Getting Things Done approach, where only items that have fixed times go onto my calendar, and that works better for me.
Each of us will have our own preferences on what goes onto our calendars and my choices won’t work for everyone, but they may give you some ideas. The key factor is to use your calendar consistently, however you choose to use it.