Making the Most of Your Time
Make the Most of Your Time
Tips for Keeping a Calendar or Daily Planner
Tips for Keeping a Calendar or Daily Planner
By Maura Gallagher Ardis
If you're frustrated with day after day ending before you've accomplished half of what was on your mental to do list, consider using a calendar or daily planner.
"Anyone who is serious about business uses a calendar regularly. The "seat of the pants" approach to business doesn't work anymore. Time is a valuable commodity and clients expect a businessperson to be organized, which includes using a calendar," says Lisa Kanarek, author of Organizing Your Home Office for Success.
If you're already a calendar convert, you may want to brush up on the best ways to keep a calendar.
Before making your final selection, consider the calendar's portability. Is it so large that you won't want to tote it around after the first month? Is it so small that the pages inside won't provide ample space for notes?
Choosing the right calendar or planner
Options abound when purchasing a calendar and planner - big or small, daily or weekly, leather or vinyl, and more.
When shopping for a calendar or planner, Ronni Eisenberg and Kate Kelly, authors of Organize Your Home Office, say keep these "must have" features in mind. "A good calendar must function as:
1. A complete scheduling companion with enough room for information about your appointments
2. Space for a daily "to-do" list
3. A way to view the weeks ahead
4. A telephone directory
In addition, most people want a diary section for work accomplished and a place to keep track of business expenses."
Pull out your #2 pencil
No matter how well you plan, your schedule is likely to change. Use a pencil to write in all appointments. (Also keep an eraser handy for when your plans change.)
"I've noticed that when people use ink, the ugly cross outs that result seem to deter them from using their planners faithfully," says Jan Jasper, author of Take Back Your Time.
You might even use a pencil when entering your clients', colleagues', friends', and family members' contact information. Today telephone numbers and email addresses can change often.
Get all of the info you'll need
When you make appointments with clients, dinner plans with friends, or even take down the information about your daughter's next soccer game, jot down the address of where you'll be going, directions to the location, and a telephone number in case you have to reschedule (or get lost).
Plan no more than 75 percent of the day so you'll have time to deal with unexpected issues.
Record all of this information in the note section beside the appointment. If you don't have enough room, write down the information on a piece of sticky backed note pad paper and stick it to the date. Regular notepaper and a paper clip will also work.
Keep your calendar handy and open
Having your calendar with you and open to the current date should help you manage your time better. An open calendar will allow you to glance at your schedule and instantly know what you should be doing and where. It will also prevent the 'I'll mark that appointment down later, but never do' syndrome.
Use only one calendar
You might be tempted to have one planner for your professional life and another for your personal life. Avoid this temptation, Kanarek warns, "it's too confusing and time consuming to keep track of two calendars. Differentiate personal from business appointments by using highlighters."
If your assistant keeps a mirror copy of your calendar, meet regularly to be sure the two copies are in synch and up to date.
Do not book appointments back-to-back
Give yourself a few minutes between appointments to take a break, grab the correct materials for the next meeting, and get there.
Eisenberg and Kelly recommend planning "no more than 75 percent of the day so you'll have time to cope with interruptions and other unexpected office problems."3
Create a "to-do" list
Most calendars and planners offer a "to do" list feature. Each day write down the tasks you'd like to accomplish. Then star or highlight the two most important items. This way, "if your day takes an unexpected turn, you'll know what project should take priority during any available time."4
Make copies of important info
You'll want to be prepared, just in case you lose your planner. Make photocopies of all of your contact information. Eisenberg and Kelly even suggest making "a photocopy of your most important calendar pages those with a good number of notes and appointments yet to come."
Review your planner at the end of each day
Before you head home for the evening, turn your planner page to the next day and review your schedule. This routine will give you enough time to reschedule any conflicts.