In 20+ years as a professional organizer, I’ve never met anyone who could successfully manage his or her personal and professional lives without relying on a calendar system. Don’t fall into the trap of using the freebie given to you by a client or a vendor (even if it was expensive!) — choosing your calendar is a personal decision.
Here are some questions you can answer to help you decide:
1) Do you need to combine your business and personal life on one calendar? More people are finding that their business and personal lives are blended, so having a master calendar for life is essential. If you are not sure, try this exercise. For one week, make a mark in your business calendar every time you wished you had your personal calendar. Add up the marks at the end of the week, and it will be easy to decide.
2) Do you prefer “bytes or atoms?” Computer programs and handheld devices provide an amazing flexibility in calendar options. Nonetheless, some people still prefer the feel of the paper in their hand. One client I know selects her calendar based on the way it looks, knowing that she won’t like to use it if it’s ugly! Another client was never successful managing a paper calendar, but thrives on his Palm Pilot.
3) How many calendars do you need? Some companies require employees to use an electronic calendar to simplify meeting scheduling, but individuals prefer not to share everything. Or, you could use a wall calendar at the office to communicate your travel schedule to your staff – and another at home for your family. To avoid a crisis, identify what information goes on what calendar.
4) How much writing space do you need? Keep in mind you can eliminate a surprising amount of clutter by extrapolating the information you need from a piece of paper and entering it on your calendar on the date you need the information. Then throw out the piece of paper!
5) What size calendar is best for you? Both electronic calendars and paper calendars come in a variety of sizes. Do you always carry a briefcase, or do you need a calendar to fit in your pocket? If you like a small calendar, but need extra writing space, create additional space with Post-it Notes? that you can toss when they are no longer relevant.
Choose your calendar carefully. If you’re not sure what calendar is best for you, ask your friend’s and colleagues what they use and why. When you do find one you love, treat it with care. In mine, you will see a note on the front, “If found, please return for a reward.”