The Thing That’s Missing From Your Calendar

Time management calendar pieceDo certain tasks cling to your to-do list forever? I’ve had some odds and ends on my list for a while that I never seem to have time for. Today I finally figured out why…

I didn’t have them on my calendar!

“Between Time”

I give seminars, presentations, and workshops all day, with an occasional meeting sprinkled in here and there. Those types of things have prominent places on my calendar, but that’s not all I have to do during the day. I have to respond to emails, compile mileage reports, map out new presentations, etc… I call them “between” tasks, because I squeeze them in here and there between larger obligations.

Today I noticed that my “between time” has been more scarce than usual and some of these smaller tasks have been slipping. If these tasks are to be completed, I need to reserve space on my calendar, just like any other obligation.

Assign Your Smaller Tasks

So, this week, I’m designating where my “between time” is and fiercely protecting it, just like I would any time I’ve reserved for a meeting or workshop.

Take a look at the older tasks still clinging to your to-do list. Are they missing from your calendar? Assign them a time on your calendar this week so you can actually cross them off!

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The Three Words of Organization

Time management organizedLet’s talk about time management organization for a second. Some people are naturally organized. Beautifully labeled file folders and neatly kept calendars come easily to them. The rest of us have to work hard to keep all of our deadlines and obligations from falling through the cracks. No matter where you fall on the organization spectrum, I’ve found there are three simple words that solve most organization problems…

Write. It. Down.

I know. Seems obvious right? But I like to keep things simple, and if we distill most time management organization problems down to the core of the issue, difficulties arise when we don’t have a good system for writing things down.

You might be asking, “Where?” and “How?” Then you’re developing a system, make sure it has the following three characteristics:

1. Easy

Writing down your tasks should be simple and only take a moment or two. If you use a paper calendar, that means keeping a pen clipped to it at all times. If you’re using an app or some sort of digital calendar, that means making sure it’s accessible at all times, and only requires one or two clicks to enter an event.

2. One place

Everything should be written down in one place. Writing things down does no good if you have to remember where you wrote it. I recommend having one list for short-term tasks and one calendar for long term tasks. The calendar is where you keep track of long-term obligations and deadlines. You use your calendar to make your daily list of tasks to complete. Remember, your list is not a collection of everything you have to do, it’s a collection of everything you plan to do today.

3. Consistent

Whatever system you use, make sure you use it consistently. Every appointment gets written down every time. The moment you start thinking, “I’ll just remember this one, it’s no big deal,” that’s when the system begins to break down and disorganization creeps in.

When I start to feel disorganized and out of control, sure enough, it’s because I stopped writing things down. Keep your organization simple for the best success!

Need help staying organized? Check out The Time Diet task planner! Or watch the instructional video below!

4 Tools You Need in Your Time Management Toolbox

Time Management ToolboxWe all know that we need some kind of list and some kind of calendar to have a well-organized time management system, but what else do we need? What else do we need in our time management toolbox? Make sure you keep these four essential tools close to you.

1. A Pen

How many times have you meant to write something down…and forgotten? We usually do this when we get a deadline and aren’t prepared to notate it in some way. Keep a pen clipped to your To-Do list so it doesn’t get lost among the jumble of other pens that disappear from your desk drawer. Keep a digital list? That’s great! Make sure to keep it with you at all times so you don’t fall victim to forgetting tasks either.

2. The Helpful Friend

Different friends fill different roles in our lives. Some are there to make sure we have fun. Some are there to cry on, others to support us, others to listen to our excuses, and others to tell us what we want to hear. Then there is the friend who doesn’t let you accept your own excuses and tells you to quit whining and get to work when you need to hear it most. Know who that friend is and let him or her help you.

3. Your Blinders

We all have our unique Time Killers- those little things that waste your time without your permission. You need to figure out how to put your “time management blinders” on so they don’t distract you while you’re working. Does that mean putting your smartphone out of sight? Does it mean closing your door occasionally? Figure out your blinder strategy in advance so you don’t lose your productivity to distracted work

4. Your “Why”

Why are you working so hard? Is it to support your family? Reach a personal goal? Reconnect with your “why” on a daily basis. It makes the “how” so much easier.

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You’re Doing it Wrong: Calendar Edition

Time Management Doing it WrongCalendars: We all have them, but we could probably all use them more effectively. They are the central component of our time management system, and yet we struggle to keep them organized. If you’re having a hard time taming your calendar, you might be doing it wrong! Check out these three common mistakes people make when it comes to calendars and how to fix them.

1. Not Using Start Dates

If you look at your calendar and see only due dates, it’s no wonder you’re stressed! Due dates tell us when something must be finished. Start dates determine when you plan to begin it! This week, challenge yourself to set a start date for every due date you put in your calendar. Start dates define when “later” is.

2. Paper vs Digital

When it comes to calendars, if it’s broke…fix it! Sometimes people struggle to keep using a certain kind of calendar even if it’s not working for them. If your paper calendar just isn’t cutting it, try out a new app on your phone. If a digital calendar is frustrating you, bust out the trusty paper pocket calendar (and don’t worry about being made fun of!)

3. Forgetting to set appointments for your Desserts

The enjoyable “Desserts” in your life deserve real estate on your calendar just like every other appointment in your life. If your root canal appointment makes it onto your calendar, but your weekend hike doesn’t…why is that? Putting your enjoyable tasks on equal footing with your work makes you more likely to actually give yourself the breaks you deserve.

Remember, your calendar should help add organization to the chaos, not further stress you out!

Connect with The Time Diet for more time management tips