Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tracking Your Time

Let's talk about calendars. I find this to be one of the largest organizational challenges for myself.

In my single days it was easy. I used a Franklin Covey planner and used my calendar religiously. I would carry it with me and add appointments as I made them. Every Friday afternoon or Monday morning I would add work meetings. I could take it with me to meetings and add notes and update my to-do list.

Now with a husband and children and a full-time job I find it much more challenging. I have work meetings and home meetings and appointments for the kids and appointments and schedules for my husband. And they are all important. I have an array of options available to me:

  • wall calendar at home
  • calendar in my cell phone
  • calendar in my email at work
  • desk calendar at work
  • wall calendar at work with appropriate holidays and fiscal month information

But with all these calendars available, it is very easy to write down an appointment on one calendar (say Outlook at work) and then forget to transfer it to home. And if I happen to be home on the day the appointment arises, I risk missing that appointment.

My current method works something like this:
1. Maintain my work calendar in Outlook. I put on here any work-specific appointments and any personal appointments that happen during or immediately after the workday. This is a must because our entire office uses the Outlook calendaring feature to schedule meetings.
I don't worry about workday meetings at home.

1a. Each week I print a copy of my Outlook calendar. I use a 3-ring binder now instead of a FC Planner. I slip the printed calendar in the front cover of my binder and have tabs within for each of my projects. I can keep my to-do list and notes from meetings right in the binder. That goes with me to any meeting.

2. Keep a wall calendar at home as the "master" for all (non-work) appointments and meetings for me, the husband and the kids. If I happen to make an appointment while out of the house I will ask for a reminder card or make a note to myself. I put these notes/cards in the pockets of my pants so I will remember to remove them when I get home - or at the very least when I am getting undressed for the day.
My favorite wall calendar is this one created by Flylady Marla Cilley. It doesn't have any pictures of cute puppy dogs or your last family reunion. But it does have giant spaces for each day that make it easy to add lots of information.

2b. Each day I write out a daily task list for home. I include the times of any appointments. This list goes in my on-the-go binder. It's similar to the one I have for work - tabs for different areas of responsibility.

All-in-all I would say that my current system mostly works. I know what I have to do and can easily see on the calendar what my husband is doing. And he knows to check the calendar before making any plans.

What system do you use to keep yourself and your family on the same page?

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