Yesterday morning at 8am my phone went ‘ping’. This happens every second Wednesday at 8am. This particular ping is to remind me that I’m going on Ultra106.5 with Scottie the next morning and that I really need to prepare something that I can talk with him about.
I find this incredibly helpful. In fact, my Google calendar is one of the tools that I really would not like to be without. I’m sure I could manage using a paper calendar, but I’m also sure it would be a lot more work. My online calendar, that’s safe ‘in the cloud’ and appears on my phone simplifies my life and gives me peace, it keeps my house tidier and helps me with my relationships. In fact, there is a lot of life riding on the shoulders of my calendar. It’s the app that (almost) does everything!
Here are some ways I use my calendar:
Medical appointments – as soon as they are made they are put in the calendar. No more little business cards with dates and times floating around in my purse.
Bills – just last week I found a note I had written to myself about various annual bills for my business and when they were due. That note was only helpful as long as it was in my sight, and once you pin a few of those notes on the pin board, the important ones become somewhat invisible. But putting the bills in the calendar with a reminder seven days earlier will mean that I will make sure there is enough in my account to cover the bills when they come.
Invitations – yes, a beautiful wedding invitation looks great on the fridge, and I keep them there, but I also block out the day in my calendar. Who likes being double booked? And if I’m not sure that I want to go to that particular party, I can put in a RSVP reminder as well, to give myself time to think about it.
Birthday and wedding anniversary reminders – Facebook is great and all, but I want to make sure that I don’t accidentally miss the special people in my life. I put the dates in my calendar with an annual repeat and I know we’re all good. I can also put a reminder in a week or so beforehand so I have time to buy a card or a present.
Church roster – our roster used to come out on an A3 piece of paper. I would go through and highlight where my name appeared. But who wants to store huge pieces of paper? No, straight on to the calendar. It clears up my office, and it clears up my head.
Public holidays – always good to know when you’re planning ahead.
Appointments with myself – some things you do as a matter of routine. But some days, those routine things don’t work. An example is that every morning I spend 15 minutes in silence with God. But on the Thursdays when I go into Ultra, I don’t have time for those 15 minutes and they need to happen later in the day. As the day can get hectic very quickly, those precious minutes can easily get lost. I now have a repeating appointment with myself on Thursdays at lunch time to spend 15 minutes in silence. I take that just as seriously as an appointment with a friend or client. People also use this method to make time to write, or practice music, or spend time on their art. If it’s in the calendar, it’s an appointment.
I use Google calendar, and while they’re not paying me to say this, I think there are many benefits to using an online calendar that’s also available on your phone and therefore always with you.
I love the reminder facility. I can make the reminder as long as I need it to be to make sure I can travel to the appointment in plenty of time. I can even add travel time into the calendar so that I get reminded ten minutes before I have to make the half hour trip. Or I can make the reminder go one day or one week (or even longer) before the calendar entry if there’s some preparation involved.
I love that I can have different calendars too. I have one that’s just for me. But I have a second calendar that’s shared with Moz. This is a calendar for things we do together, like dinner with the parents or our small group night. It’s also good for documenting things that the other person might like to know. For example, when Moz blocked the whole day out for four-wheel driving last weekend, he shared that to the joint calendar. That meant that I knew I was free to do whatever that weekend and he wasn’t expecting me to be around. I have a women’s event coming up at church, so that’s in the shared calendar so that he knows I won’t be around and he can watch an action movie with the sound up loud.
We also use the joint calendar when we’re planning out our quarterly rhythm/routine. We book in holiday weekends and maintenance weekends and Sundays where we’ll sit together in church (rather than serving separately in some capacity). It’s nice to have a tentative plan made in advance, and we use the calendar to remind ourselves of that plan.
You can also share a calendar with someone who is not your significant other. When I was working at the university, my supervisor shared his calendar with me so that I could figure out when it would work to have our supervisory meetings without having to play email pingpong.
The YouTuber and podcaster CGP Grey uses a separate online calendar to plan out an ideal week. On it he puts things like the three hours he plans to spend writing in the mornings. Or the four hours needed for podcasting recording. Or animating time. He marks out the days in one of his online calendars so that he can remind himself, ‘if everything is going well, you should be writing right now.’ (Or exercising, or podcasting, or animating.) It’s not something he has to stick to, but it helps keep him focused.
So while I think you could get some of these benefits from using a paper calendar or diary, I find that an electronic calendar works very well. It does away with paper clutter. It gives me peace that I know what my days hold. It helps me to book my appointments so that there’s room in between them. It helps me look after the people I love. And it helps me to bring rhythm to my life and to make time for the things that are important.
A calendar is a very handy tool.
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And if you’d like to hear the chat I had with Scottie this morning, you can listen at A Quiet Life on any pod catcher or find it on my website.