Friday, April 18, 2008

Productivity for mums - Using a calendar and diary

Earlier this week in Productivity for mums I listed some of the tools I use to help me keep organised. Today's post provides more information on the first item in my list Use and rely on a calendar and diary.

My guess is that every household has at least one calendar floating around. However, just having a calendar is not going to help :-) This was one of the harder things for me to get my head around. Sure I would put birthdays, public holidays and the odd appointment on the calendar or in my diary (sometimes both, if I was being especially on the ball), thinking to myself that I would remember the other things. It didn't work. I was forgetting appointments, double booking myself and generally ending up in a disorganised mess.

In order to get organised, the calendar needs to be used. For everything.

  1. Find a calendar with nice big squares for each so you can actually decipher what you've written. The ones with the whole year on one page, or a lovely picture but dinky little squares won't cut it.

  2. Put your calendar somewhere you will see it every day and use it every day. Mine is on the fridge.

  3. Write all your appointments and your family's appointments (if you need to keep track of them) and reminders on the calendar. Try to get everything on there as soon as you commit to it. Write it on there as soon as you get off the phone, when the notice comes home from school, when you open the invitation, and so on.

  4. Before you make a commitment to anything, check your calendar. That way you can avoid double bookings - “Oh, I can't go to the dentist next Thursday morning, I'm having coffee with ...” 
Hopefully you aren't a housebound busy mum. So the second tool will help with organising your time when you're not at home. It's a diary. You could use a paper based diary, or a PDA. It doesn't really matter. The important thing is your diary needs to be kept in synch with your calendar. I sit down every couple of days to do this. You should do it at least once a week. The rules for using a diary are the same as a calendar.

Some people are able to get by with just a diary. I have found the advantage of having a calendar as well, is that the whole family can keep up with what's going on.

A happy side effect of having both has been my kids have learnt to use the calendar. The Engineer (6) writes his birthday invitations, school sports and other important dates straight on the there himself. He also enjoys crossing the days off as they pass by. Cinderella (4) and Little Mermaid (2) can't read yet, so together we decide on a sticker for their activities and then pop them on. When they get up in the morning, they check the calendar (they know what day it is because The Engineer has crossed them off) and can see straight away whether they have swimming or dancing or kinder or if it's the weekend.

Next week I'll look in more detail at the importance of routines.

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