Be Proactive vs Reactive this Year!
Gain Balance Through Proactive Calendar Management
Do you find yourself wondering how you can possibly fit one more thing into your schedule? Do you wish that people would understand how busy you are? By implementing the following calendar organizational strategy, you will gain control and become a more proactive calendar manager. In addition you will find yourself more organized and balanced.
In this day of technology, many rely on electronic calendars. While convenient, these calendars do not provide a clear picture of what is happening each day or lies ahead. It is easy to add something to your electronic calendar and tell yourself that you will figure it out later.
The following calendar organizational strategy will help you become proactive vs. reactive when managing your and your family’s schedule.
- Purchase a bound, paper calendar with a monthly view. Your calendar should be large enough that you can write on each day but also convenient enough to take with you when you are away from home.
- Purchase a pack of small post it notes with multiple colors, preferably ones that measure .5 in. x 1.75 in.
- How you categorize your post its will be your decision, however the recommendation is that you have one color to represent available days/evenings and one to represent untouchable days/evenings. In addition you might choose to select a color for a job(s), days that are always held for a certain event, or a color for family members. Many choose a shade of green as their color to represent available, as green is associated with “go”.
The goal is to go through your calendar one month at time as far out as possible building a balanced schedule by following these guidelines:
- First write down on your calendar, in pencil, anything that is already scheduled.
- Next, select two days/evenings per week that are untouchable, placing your designated post it on those days. These are days that you will keep open for fun family events or “you time”. You cannot use this time for cleaning, doing household chores, running errands, etc.
- Finally, go through and pick one to two days/evenings per week that are free and clear for any appointments or other events/commitments that might come up.
- If any days/evenings remain available you can add post it notes according to how you would like to hold these days.
If you get stuck with the second bullet, chances are you are already over booked. You are in charge of your schedule no matter how busy you and your family are. If you cannot accomplish the second bullet, look at your prior commitments and consider re-scheduling, opting out if possible or delegating to friends or family.
By managing your calendar this way you will be able to look at each month with a clear overview of what is happening when. If you receive a phone call and are asked to do something or an appointment needs to be set, with one glance you can see which days are free and clear for scheduling the event. At that time only offer your available days. If these days do not work for the situation, you have two options. The first is to consider a different day, but if it is an untouchable day you must be able to move that day to another the same week. If you cannot do this, you then look to the next week or month. Once a day has been selected, remove the post it, as it is no longer available. Try to avoid over booking the same day with too many events. Just because it is available does not mean you have to fit everything possible into one day.
Never agree to anything without your calendar in front of you. Simply state that you need to check your calendar and will be happy to confirm later. If your available days do not work for the other person or event, decline and offer to try and help the next time.
Most importantly, explain your calendar management system to your family and keep it on display at home for others to view. Sharing this will help get and keep everyone on the same page. Couples and families report that this strategy helps keep everyone accountable and in turn helps restore familial balance.
Saying no is challenging for many people, but saying yes to everything can negatively affect your physical and mental health.
No matter how busy you are, you can learn and implement strategies to gain control and establish balance in your life.
Emily Tonn is a Master Level Counselor at Pamper Your Mind, located in Indian Harbour Beach, where she specializes in relational systems. She also works as a regional facilitator with the Florida Inclusion Network. Her experience stems from a variety of settings and includes work with organizations, couples and families.
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This post originally appeared on our January/February 2015 Magazine