It might sound cliche, but modern life is pretty freaking hectic. Technology means everything moves at a faster pace, and that often means more is expected of us day-to-day (work e-mails after work, anyone?). It's why knowing the best ways to organize your calendar can be so incredibly important when it comes to keeping our lives together.
I am kind of a calendar freak. And this isn't because I'm some kind of naturally organized, type-A task master. It's because time has taught me that if something isn't on my calendar, odds are very high I won't remember it. Not only that, but I'm kind of the world's worst procrastinator, so if I'm not accountable to a schedule and don't make constant reminders for myself, I often don't end up doing the things I need to get done.
This is especially true since I started working from home and "being my own boss" this past year. If I don't create structure for myself, literally nobody else will (and that's a recipe for disaster, AKA some serious Netflix binging when I have a million other things to do). But I also know that you don't need to work at home to benefit from a solid calendar system. It's one of those things that — while it might seem kind of annoying at first — actually only helps make your life easier. And who doesn't need that?
If you've been feeling like your schedule has been in disarray lately, or you already use a scheduling system but want to shore up any gaps, here are 11 hacks that will help you never forget anything ever again.
1. Know Yourself
This first one is a personal tip. I always say that the best organizational system in the world won't do much good if it's not the right one for you and your brain. So start by assessing your personal organization style. Are you a paper and pen person? Do you need a lot of digital reminders? Think on this before implementing a system.
2. Keep It Simple
A piece on OrganizeYourWorld.net on the effective use of personal calendars stressed the importance of keeping things simple. They noted that having too many calendars can be just as useless as not having one at all, as the more calendars you have to synch and update, the higher the likelihood something will fall through the cracks. They recommended sticking to a single calendar if you can, and two at most for work and home.
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On her site Time With Thea, organizational blogger Thea recommended color-coding your calendar. She said she personally color-codes all weekends and holidays in green, birthdays and anniversaries (i.e: the "card sending stuff") in purple, and days with appointments or non-miss events, like concerts, in blue. This decreases the odds that something big will slip your mind or that you'll will double-book yourself.
4. Keep Your Calendar Where You'll See It
This is another tip from Thea, though it admittedly applies less to digital calendar users. "I leave my calendar at the breakfast table the night before so I can refer to it every morning and am consistently staying on top of upcoming events," she said. This might sound obvious, but the old adage "out of site, out of mind" exists for a reason.
5. Write Everything Down
And I mean everything. I even like to keep a section in my calendar for things I need to pick up while I'm out so that if I ever find myself at a CVS I'll know exactly what I need/I also write down things that interest me, like museum exhibits or local flea markets so that I don't miss out on something I might have been free to do just because I plain forgot about it.
6. Set Reminders For Yourself
One of the benefits of most digital organizers like Google calendars is that you can set reminders for yourself. In a piece on maximizing productivity on My Domain, senior site editor Jillian Knox Finley noted that G-cal even has options to remind you of events by email, text, pop-up, or direct SMS. If you're the forgetful type or know you have a super busy week ahead where you might genuinely forget to call your Nana for her birthday, these features are super helpful.
7. Note Recurring Deadlines
This is a tip I learned from a woman I used to work with who was a master at personal organization. She had things like, "Pay credit cards," or "Mail rent check," on the same dates every single month. That way she never let something seemingly obvious slip through the cracks.
8. Do Your App Research
If you're a person who works best with digital and electronic organization techniques, then you've literally never been better positioned to get and stay organized. There are SO many organization apps out there for so many different organization styles, like AwesomeNote and Timeful. Spend 30 minutes seeing what your app store has to offer.
9. Know Your Shortcuts
Many of us use Gmail and Google Calendar these days, and if you do, knowing your shortcuts is key. Schedule an hour of your weekend to get acquainted with the most useful features, like Gcal's "Quick Add," or your Task bar. And if you don't use Gcal, do this with your electronic organizer of choice. It will save you so much time in the long run.
10. Use Those Stickies!
I have always found that at the end of the day, nothing beats good old fashioned sticky notes when it comes to making sure you absolutely don't forget something — especially if it's something specific to that day (like, "Call Grandma for her birthday!"). And for the more digitally inclined, Macs have a built-in sticky note app, and there are several free versions for Windows as well.
11. Keep A Separate To-Do List On Hand
The lifestyle experts behind the Youtube channel The Gang, a channel devoted to everything lifestyle and organization related, highly recommended keeping a running To Do list that is separate from your calendar and appointment book. It can be hard to keep track of everything you need to get done if it's hidden in separate places in your calendar.
Maintaining a calendar system is one of the best ways to help reduce schedule-related anxiety and feel more in control of your day-to-day. Just make sure you're adopting a system that works for you and your life, and feel the the organization-fueled bliss roll in.
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