Since days gone by, calendars have been an integral part of our lives. Marking the passage of time or anticipating future events is the way in which we make sense of the world. Think about it. How do you measure your life? Success? Failures? It’s a little bit trippy, right?
Calendars allow me to keep my focus on things and people that matter most rather than on the daily minutiae.
Chances are, you already have a calendar in your life be it a traditional paper one, digital (on your phone and/or computer) or otherwise. I used to find the process of writing out a paper calendar onerous and avoided it at all costs. These days, I’m finding that a little advance planning by jotting down my tasks and appointments for the week/month/year has a way of helping me keep track of it all and make the appropriate amount of space for it. I am not always the most diligent at checking in with my calendar however, so having the digital component is a necessity. Those annoying little reminders have saved my tush on more than one occasion.
Alerts are annoying but indispensable because they make sure you don’t forget the items you’ve painstakingly collected on your calendar.
Without a calendar, it’s next to impossible to be productive. Scheduling time for tasks, appointments, learning, self-care, family is an important part of keeping you healthy and happy. I prefer NOT to live by the clock, it creates an intense sense of urgency that I find overwhelming. Some people can keep a ton of information in their heads and not miss a thing. I could if I had to, but I’d rather spend that energy elsewhere. Having a good system for adding, updating and reminding me of important tasks and appointment allows me to keep my focus on things and people that matter most rather than on the daily minutiae.
Much like Reminders this is an integral part of my daily routine though I largely check it once (if that) and ignore it throughout the day unless a reminder pops up. Here’s how it all comes together…
This can get a little complex so bear with me. I’m going to assume we’re starting from day 1 though you likely are already a few steps in.
- Check your Mail Settings: This likely sounds counter intuitive however, if you sync your mail accounts (Gmail, outlook, iCloud etc.) to your iPhone, you’ll need to make sure your Calendar is or is NOT being synced. If you want to keep items separated and available via your Google or Outlook calendar, then you may want to enable these to sync. If you’d prefer to access your calendar only on your phone/mac/iCloud account then I’d suggest you do NOT enable any calendar syncing. However, if you sync a work email and people often send you appointment requests via your work email…please sync. Settings > Mail > Accounts > (click on each account to enable/disable)
- Check your visible Calendars & Customize: Open the Calendar app and at the bottom of the screen, you’ll see “Calendars”. Tap this to view your viewable calendars. From here, you can see your iCloud calendars (native to your phone) and any additional calendars you’ve enabled down below. Make sure to customize this list so it works for you, color code as applicable. I tend to have a calendar for each family member, work etc., but you may also consider Events, Appointments, Health (gym, running, Doc) and others depending on your lifestyle. You may even color code based on the types of work you are doing like writing, social media, graphics, networking, mastermind, etc.) Don’t be afraid to experiment and it’s pretty simple to change at a later date if you wish to.
- Add your “Events”: This can be time consuming, but it gets easier as you move forward. Take a bit of time to add any important events coming up this week/month. If you’ve got time, keep adding for the next few months until you run out of things to add. Sometimes it helps to break up the importing process so it doesn’t feel so overwhelming but I often get into the flow and want to keep going!
- Choose your View: You’ve got a few options as to how you SEE your events. On the top left corner you can toggle from the year view (overview of just the months/dates), to the month view (you can also tap the details view to see a list of tasks/events for the selected day including color codes) and the day view which shows you the hours of the day with the events spaced accordingly (using your color codes!). When in the day view, you can also tap the list view to see a list of all tasks/events in a list for easy scrolling.
- Review your schedule: Now that you’ve got everything set up, you want to determine how you’ll use your calendar. Do you want to view it each morning and throughout the day? Do you work better with a paper planner and take time each week to transfer any pertinent information and strategize your day/week? The trick is to try a few methods and figure out what works best for your brain. Then, set the habit. Make a commitment to yourself that you’ll use this system (tweaking as necessary) for at least 30 days. Once you get past day 22, you’re good to go.
- Be sure to set alerts: If you’re anything like me, alerts will be your saving grace. Any time I add a calendar event, I make sure an alert is also set. Alerts are the little windows that pop up and annoy you right when you’re watching a funny video or sending that last work email. Yet, they’re indispensable because they make sure you don’t forget the items you’ve painstakingly collected on your calendar. Make sure your alerts are appropriate. Reminding yourself about a Dr. appointment 5 minutes before when it’s a 30-minute drive won’t be effective.
- Break down tasks: It’s easy to forget about a task once you’ve put it on your calendar. So make sure you add sub-tasks as necessary too. If you’ve got a kids birthday party this weekend, maybe add a sub-task for earlier in the week to buy the gift. Just like your todo list, you need to be sure you set yourself up for success rather than being frustrated by perceived failure. If the system isn’t working, reevaluate and find the flaw.
Common phrases for my favorite assistant
Siri is great with calendars but the lingo can be a bit confusing at times. Be sure to replace the information in brackets and the dates/times with your own.
- Schedule a [meeting with Joe] tomorrow at 3 pm. The basics follow this syntax: Schedule a [title you want to appear for event] [date] at [time] in [location]. If you add a location, Siri will also set up an alert when it’s “time to leave” based on Maps with estimated traffic. Pretty handy at times.
- Move (or Reschedule) my 10 am meeting tomorrow. Siri will then ask when you want to reschedule it, nice huh?
- Cancel my dentist appointment on Thursday. Siri will confirm before deleting the appointment.
- What’s on my calendar for [date]. Handy if you’re not sure which appointment needs to be moved/canceled or for getting a quick synopsis of your day’s events.
- Schedule my workout every Monday at 6 am at [Gym Name]. Set recurring events!
Don’t sweat it if you don’t get the hang of it right away, Siri is pretty great once you get used to her but there’s a definite learning curve. She will also prompt for missing information if some of your command made sense, so just keep at it until you get it right. There’s no one way to tell her what you want, so find the syntax that feels natural to you and you’ll make it work.