Use Your Calendar to Make You More Efficient, Effective, Creative, and Successful

People ask me frequently how it is I can be so organized, or how is it I get so much done. The answer is simple:  my calendar.

Granted, my calendar – see above – looks like a mess! I use an Outlook calendar and can see one day at a time, or one week, or one month.

But it’s really not a mess at all. In fact, my calendar is OH SO useful. Because everything is recorded on it – and I do mean everything. From appointments, to reminders, to much of my to-do list. Everything.

I don’t leave anything to my memory that can be recorded on my calendar. Virtually nothing! Anything I need to do repeatedly, or on a certain date, or at a certain time, or even that just needs a memory jog – is on my calendar. That leaves room in my brain for important things as needed.

Today I invite you to begin doing the same. Here are some examples:

  • For one thing: my calendar is color coded which allows me to get a quick look at my day. Orange = phone calls. Blue = personal. Yellow and gold are either tasks that are repeated regularly, or one-off tasks that must be done on that day. Green = something related to money. You get the picture.
  • I use “rules” to deposit many emails to a special folder of requests like unmet needs (request an advocate), directory stats, requests to be added to the Health Advocate Code, and others. Every morning a notice pops up from my calendar to remind me to check for requests from the day before. That means two things: first, that they all get taken care of within 24 hours; and second, that I can fulfill them efficiently all at the same time, and not throughout the day.
  • no belated birthday cardsIf a family or friend’s birthday is coming up and I want to mail a card or gift, I add a reminder to my calendar about two weeks out to buy it, and then a few days prior so I mail it in time. (No “Happy Belated Birthday” cards from me!)
  • Every Monday I have an entry for the Tuesday newsletter, the APHA Agenda. First, it reminds me to prepare it for sending on Tuesday. But also in that same entry, it tells me what I need to remember to add to that specific Agenda that week. That way I don’t leave things out.
  • How often do you schedule a call with someone but forget the topic by the time the call rolls around? If I have an upcoming phone call, I make notes about the topic on the page for that call, which I call up from my calendar.
  • How often have you left a message or sent an email and never heard back from the person you’ve contacted? If I send an email and expect a reply, or make a phone call and have to leave a message, I stick something on my calendar a day or two later to remind myself I expected to hear back, so I can follow up with the person I emailed.
  • I often write blog posts and these tips on Monday. But then I hold them in my drafts, and add a note to my Wednesday calendar to publish them, and prep for your email about them. That way I don’t forget! That also gives me a few days to edit, change, or add to each post.

brain and calendarThose are some examples of how I can empty my brain of details, knowing I’ll be reminded when it’s time to take action. It’s all very freeing!  The stress of having to remember something is lifted. I can be far more creative when my head isn’t full of details it doesn’t need at that moment.

You, too, can use your calendar extensively. Begin writing things down so you can let go of them until you need to do them. A digital calendar or a paper calendar – your preference – although a digital calendar can often be shared across devices.

Calendar ideas for advocates and care managers:

  • You finish your work with a client. Make yourself a note in 90 days to reach out to him to check up on him, and to see if he needs further help.
  • You receive a voice mail from a potential client. You call her back, but she doesn’t answer, so you leave a message. Make yourself a note on tomorrow’s calendar to call her again if you haven’t heard from her.
  • You are way too busy to do any extra marketing today because you have so many clients. But you know that in another month, that workload may diminish. New marketing needs to be done while you are still busy so that you’ll have a constant stream of new clients coming in. So put a reminder on your calendar every other Friday to review your workload so you can begin to ramp up your marketing the minute you need to.
  • You reach out to a former, satisfied client to ask him to post a testimonial on your directory listing. Make yourself a note four or five days out to see if that was done. If not, you can remind him.
  • You know your liability insurance will expire 12 months after you’ve procured it. Make a note to yourself a month before expiration to research new possibilities, perhaps lowering your cost. That’s far better than waiting until the last minute and being stuck with more expensive insurance.

Recording every little memory jog is a great habit to develop. It will make you far more efficient and effective. It may even help you sleep better at night.


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