By Meredith |
I am all about tools & keys that make my (our) life function more effectively. Digital calendars are one of those things. I used to own a beautiful paper calendar. It was filled with perfectly chosen color coding, quotes and tiny post-its; I adored it. I found myself too often saying the phrase, “I’ll have to check my calendar” or “I don’t have my calendar on me, I’ll call you.” Both professionally and personally this was creating additional tasks and delaying what should have been instantaneous decisions. Not to mention the hours that I was spending “updating” the calendar each week. My pretty calendar had to go.
With a sigh. A weighty heart. And the gumption that comes when you know you need to grow, I let it go and made my life digital.
There are days that I miss those smooth pages, bright highlighters and floral quotes. (Mostly early fall when Target starts putting out all the new patterns.) But for every one of those days that I have, there are 28.5 more that have run more smoothly because I swapped over.
Some of the things I love about my digital calendar
- Sharing. My husband and I have shared calendars, something that my paper calendar could not do. The reason I love this is that it allows us to spend our precious time together talking about really important things…. Or at least debating who should scoop out two bowls of ice cream before we watch Madam Secretary. Before we were wasting minutes and hours of our weeks talking about who has an after work dinner or who had a meeting before church. The calendar certainly does not eliminate the need to communicate about our schedules, but it sure cuts it down so that we can get back to chocolate chunk or caramel swirl.
- Reminders. I have a friend who used to write a note on a post-it and then toss that post-it away. She didn’t actually need the post-it, the act of writing it out was enough to lock it away in her freakish memory. I am not that person. I set alerts and reminders all over the place.
- Subscriptions. Once you start using digital calendars you’ll be surprised to find out just how many places have calendar subscriptions that you can import. Things like kid’s school and activities, clubs or volunteer organizations where you participate. My church database has a calendar I subscribe to it let’s me know when I’m volunteering, service times, special events, and life group meetings. I don’t even have to enter these ones! What?!
- Bonus: Notes. So, this is a bit of a cheat (thus the bonus) because I don’t actually do it, but I think it’s a great idea. I have another friend who uses the “Notes” section of a calendar appointment to take notes from that specific meeting. Then they are contained there and when you need to look back at what happened in the meeting or any decisions that were made, there they are, nice and tidy.
Making the transition can be a little intimidating, but its totally worth it (in my opinion). Like most new things, there is always the question, where to start? The possibilities for calendars are pretty unlimited, but I would caution (especially if you are prone to loving detail) against breaking everything down into a separate calendar. Start basic and build out. The best way is to sit down and write out what are the main areas you need to track every week/ month and then create calendars for those areas.
Here are the calendars that we use & how they are set up
Here we track things like when bills are due — with reminders, of course — pay weeks, etc. We both have viewing rights and one of us has editing (this is mainly because one of us manages bills in our house).
Birthdays & Anniversaries
I am a big believer that you plan for things that are a priority in your life. We want to remember important dates, but — let’s be real — often they come and if it wasn’t for Facebook we would never know. So, we set up a calendar that we both edit and add information to as we become aware. We have set a variety of different alerts on these as well. Family members who live in another country, we get an alert a couple weeks out and then the night before (since it’s already their next day), for a local friend we might get a reminder a couple days ahead of time (in time to make sure we have a card), or a morning of reminder to remember to send a text or make a call depending on the type of relationship or personality of the friend, or it might have no reminder required for a colleague that you just don’t want that awkward 2PM, “oh…. Happy birthday….” moment after you have had 3 meetings together.
This calendar is for events that both my husband and I will attend. We both have editing rights on it and add things as necessary. For example: we have a standing monthly date night, maybe we are attending a wedding, or having dinner with some friends. Since it has its own color, we know when we see that color it means something is happening together.
My husband has a calendar for “extra” activities that it’s helpful for me to be aware of but that I am not attending. He edits this calendar and I just have viewing ability. Here are things like an after hours work meeting or catching up with a friend.
My “extra” calendar that works the same way, I edit it and Phil has viewing on it.
Both Phil & I have separate work calendars that the other one does not view or edit. We use these calendars to schedule meetings during work hours, block out time to work on specific projects and so on.
* a note here. In Craig Groeschel’s Leadership Podcast he talks about the benefit of being able to view your spouse’s work calendar to ask better, more specific questions about the day. Instead of, “how was today?” you could ask: “How was your strategy meeting today, are you happy with the progress?” I see a lot of benefit in this approach, but — for us — when I look at my husband’s work calendar and my work calendar and think about seeing both it makes things start spinning.
This is the calendar through my church database that allows me to see when I have upcoming events at my church. Since I have subscribed to it and it is linked in with the different groups that I am part of it automatically adds the things I need to know about to my calendar.
We have a small side business that we do in conjunction with another organization. Their programming allows for calendar subscriptions to let me know when we have upcoming deadlines.
Digital Calendars certainly aren’t new and they are rather basic when it comes to the “organize your world” toolkit. They are also one of the foundations of our functioning world and I am a huge proponent! There are so many possibilities if you really maximize them, like adding in addresses so you just click to get directions, or putting a snapshot of an invitation so you can remember it’s boy baby shower…. I’d love to hear some of the ways you optimize your digital calendars, use the comments section to let me know: