Getting Organized: It Starts With Your Calendar

For years, I was the type of person who didn’t have a calendar. I didn’t have one hanging on my wall; I didn’t have a daily planner notebook in my purse; I didn’t even have smartphone with an app that could keep track of my appointments. I was like a ship without an anchor, unmoored and unscheduled.

A lot has changed since those days. Now, I’m a mother of two with a scatterbrained husband and a slew of jobs – and contractors – whose work assignments can’t be overlooked (or overbooked). And while I still don’t keep a daily planner with me or use a smartphone app, I have started managing, scheduling, and organizing my life using a simple wall calendar (it’s decorated with pictures of my kids, taken over the past year).

Put The Calendar Where You’ll See It

If you don’t put the calendar in some very obvious location, it won’t do you any good. In fact, the first year I actually made the effort to buy a calendar, I didn’t want to put a hole in the wall to hang it; instead, I stuffed it in a drawer, where it went virtually ignored (and unused) the entire year. Instead of helping me save and organize time and money, it was a complete waste of both.

Now, my calendar is hung next to the cupboard where we keep our coffee mugs. Why? I can’t avoid looking at it every morning as I grab a cup for my tea or my husband’s coffee. For you, this may mean your calendar has to go in your bathroom or even in your bedroom closet! I have a friend who keeps a small calendar taped to the dashboard of her car.

Make Mine Color-Coded

Each family member has a certain color on my calendar. My husband is black, I’m purple, my daughter’s red, and my son is blue. However, I am the only person who is allowed to write on it. Why? Because nobody else has handwriting neat enough to be read clearly by anyone else (my daughter’s four and my son’s one, so they get a pass; but, sadly, my daughter’s handwriting is actually better than her father’s).

Even from across the kitchen, I can see who has something scheduled that day based on colors alone.

(This brings me to a quick aside – keep your pens somewhere accessible, so you can easily grab them to jot down new appointments or changes to your schedule.)

What To Add

Of course, you’ll add day to day activities and appointments, like your child’s parent-teacher conference or your next trip to the dentist. But I tend to add just about everything to my calendar, such as:

  • Pay day reminders; I also jot notes about which months have “triple” paychecks
  • Heads’ up regarding big bills; I’ll write a note the month before a major bill (like our annual life insurance premiums) is due or a key subscription (like my XM radio) is set to expire
  • Birthday reminders – not just the day off, but two weeks ahead of time, giving me enough leeway to buy a card or gift and get it in the mail

Why Not A Virtual Calendar?

So, by now I’m sure you think I’m a complete Luddite, and are probably wondering why I don’t just upgrade to a more technologically-current mode of organization?

There are two reasons for this:

  1. I find that I remember things better when I write them down. And by “write them down,” I mean physically using a pen on paper, not typing or dictating something into a virtual planner.
  2. My calendar becomes an amazing record of my family’s life. I can tell you at what time I started contractions with my firstborn because I wrote it down on the calendar; I can tell you the day my daughter earned the “student of the day” award at preschool because I wrote it down on the calendar. When you combine these details of our day-to-day life with the pictures on our calendar, they become more than a means of organization; they became a family heirloom.

Reader, how do you keep track of your appointments? Am I the only one who still uses an old-fashioned calendar?

Libby Balke

Libby is a jack of all trades, master of… well, you know how the saying goes. Media consultant by day, mommy by night, you can usually find her with a glass of wine in hand, provided the kids are in bed!

One thought on “Getting Organized: It Starts With Your Calendar

  • January 20, 2013 at 9:15 am

    I use both. Now most people would find that overkill or redundant, but for me it is extremely handy. My work life (which includes financials) is in my computer in an electronic format. My personal finances, appointments and birthday & anniversary reminders are also there. I am self employed, so I am in front of my computer a lot and if I need to take time away from the office or head right to an event after work I am reminded during my work day which typically finds me with tunnel vision. I have a perpetual calendar for birthdays and anniversaries in my kitchen. This reminds me to talk to my husband about them and plan accordingly if necessary. I also have a wipeable calendar on my fridge that I put evening events, pending visitors and travel plans on. This helps me map out suppers for the week as well as an at a glance reminder to not overbook myself.


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