Tools of Time Management, 1: The Calendar

Calendars are the most basic and widely-used tool of time management. Calendars link events and actions to a particular date and time. Calendars also serve as a record of the past.

Endless variations exist. Choosing one can be daunting: a traditional paper wall calendar or desk planner? An erasable whiteboard? A computer-based solution?
Before deciding, make a wish list. Consider:

  • Context: will you be using the calendar in one location, or do you need something portable?
  • Complexity: how many events are you scheduling each day? how many people need to refer to it?
  • Control: will you be the only one adding, revising, and deleting events? Or do others need to contribute to it?
  • Aesthetics: do you want your calendar to delight or inspire? do you want to frame time by the day, the week, or the month?

Winnowing through the options becomes a much saner task when you know which features are essential. Try different designs and types to learn which features support you and which get in your way.

An unused calendar is just a piece of clutter. People who use a calendar effectively:

  • Consult it before making appointments (to avoid double-booking)
  • Record every appointment (if it’s not on the calendar, it doesn’t happen), and
  • Refer to it frequently (at least twice a day: in the morning so that you keep your commitments; in the evening so that you’re prepared for tomorrow).

Finally, recognize when you’ve outgrown a particular calendar. As my needs have shifted over the past decade, I’ve switched from a paper calendar carried in my briefcase, to a wall calendar in my home command center, to a smartphone calendar, to an app that syncs over the cloud with my spouse’s calendar. Caution: use only one calendar at a time, if you can. Multiple calendars generate chaos!!

Other posts in this series:

Tools of Time Management, 4: Routines

Tools of Time Management, 3: Wide Margins

Tools of Time Management, 2: The List