Use Your Calendar and JUST SAY NO!

Have you ever made a commitment without looking at your calendar first and then later realized you were booked solid that week?  Or you made a commitment after looking at your calendar based on the fact that the day in question was open and later realized that was your only free day that week? These are costly scheduling mistakes – they can cost you your health and your sanity.  But it’s easy to fix them if take your calendar use to the next level.

Most people think of their calendar simply as a place to record appointments.  It definitely does that.  But life is more than just appointments on a calendar and usually appointments take more time than just that time slot.  If you don’t take that into account when you schedule, you’ll end up with a jammed, overly full, complicated, and stressful schedule.  Sound familiar? Here’s how to prevent a killer schedule:

1.       Keep in mind that appointments tend to take more time than just the time slot on the calendar.  For example, you have a meeting on Friday that requires heavy duty preparation.  So the meeting is on the calendar but did you block out time to prepare?  If you don’t block it out, there’s a good chance it won’t be there when you need it.

2.       Some scheduled activities require preparation time and/or recovery time.  For example, vacation.  You need to allow time before the vacation to do laundry and pack.  You need to allow time after the vacation to do laundry, unpack and recover.  So don’t schedule activities the day before you leave and the day after you get back.

3.       Most people have certain days of the week or times of the month that are harder than other days.  Maybe you’re wiped out on Friday nights.  You work long hours and hard days and by Friday you’re beat.  So don’t schedule activities for Fridays after work.  Or maybe you can’t schedule extra activities several days in a row without having a free day to rest.  Keep your energy level in mind when scheduling or not scheduling.

4.       Sometimes you just have to stay home and get stuff done.  Like mow the grass.  Or clean the house.  Or pay the bills.  Block that off on your calendar.

5.       Have you ever attended or planned an event that left you wiped out?  If you think that’s a possibility, don’t schedule anything the day after an event like that.

6.       Check your calendar when you’re asked to bring something to an event already on your calendar.  Whenever treats were needed in my Sunday School class at church, I always checked my calendar to see what was going on the day before.  I used to work one Saturday a month, and if the treats were needed the day after I worked, I didn’t volunteer.  I knew I wouldn’t have time to make anything and I wasn’t willing to get up earlier to pick something up on the way.

So the bottom line is that whenever you’re considering an addition to your calendar, look at your schedule and think about what the appointment will cost you and what’s going on around it.  Then decide if you can do it.  Don’t just accept appointments because the time slot is open.  Unfortunately, if a time slot is empty, there are always things that will fill it up.  And that’s why it’s best if you go ahead and mark the time off on your calendar.  If you know you’ll need to recover after hosting that birthday party, mark that day off.  If you know Friday nights you’re exhausted, mark Friday nights as busy.  You have to protect your time and your calendar is the tool that will help you do it.

And here’s one final thought.  You can’t do everything.  Sometimes you have to no!  If your calendar is full or you’ve blocked off times for recovery, preparation, chores or rest – then JUST SAY NO!

Comments

  1. Fantastic article!! Very good point that often we mark the appointment, but don’t think about the other associated time, energy and physical requirements.

    • Thanks, Laurie. This point is something I’m passionate about. I’ve always been really good about doing this and it kept my life a little more sane than it would have been otherwise.

  2. These are great suggestions! I really like the idea of looking at the days as a whole instead of just writing in an appointment because the day is free. I also like the idea of blocking off time on the calendar to do stuff at home–I struggle with myself to justify not moving that around for others but I need to remember that the time I spend doing the mundane stuff like laundry is just as important.

    • Agreed, Jean – the mundane stuff still has to be done! So why do we feel guilty for setting aside time to do laundry and cleaning? It HAS to be done!!!

  3. Another great article! I love the idea of blocking off time for getting things done before and after an activity.

  4. Another great article! I love the idea of blocking off time for getting things done before and after an activity.

  5. So refreshing to find sensible people who have a true handle on time management. I have to admit, for as many years as I’ve used planners (20+) I still haven’t grasped the habit of scheduling prep and down time. I do it for work prep (such as meetings, presentations, etc.) where I will block off time for prep but in my personal life I always forget to do that. I do it in my head as I am one who needs ample pre-planning blocks of time as well as down time the day after vacations, huge events, etc. I am very good about not scheduling anything the day before or day after a large event or vacation but I forget to write it down. Then I do the ‘guilt’ thing, like ‘why did I turn that event down, I don’t have anything scheduled’. We forget in our busy lives that ‘prep time’ and ‘down time’ are certainly permissible (not to mention a ‘sane’ way to manage your life) and nothing to feel guilty about. So schedule away! )(Note to self!)

    • Cheryl, you made me laugh!

      Prep time and down time are definitely permissible, sane and nothing to feel guilty about. I don’t know why people don’t get that. I guess the world is pushing us so hard to do everything. But you just can’t. You have to pick. Good luck with your schedule and thanks for the great comment.

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