While I miss my old school Franklin Planner, I love the convenience of my Google Calendar.

Over the years, I've developed some unconventional uses for my calendar. Here are 6 of them.

  1. Non-family birthdays:

    I'll start with the most banal first: birthdays. Whenever I learn of a birthday of a friend, client, or most anyone, I put it in my calendar. With an alert to remind me a couple days in advance. This allows me to send a "Happy (early) Birthday" email to folks. (Plaxo also helps with this.)

  2. Notes to your spouse:

    Early in our marriage, my wife got frustrated enough with me to blurt out: "If I were and alum you'd have time for me!" The worst part was she was right. When I was younger, I used to send notes to her. So a year or so ago, I started using my calendar and Send Out Cards to say what I meant without having to find cards at a store. You schedule your staff meetings, why wouldn't you schedule reminders to tell your loved ones you love them?

  3. Remind yourself of your priorities:

    Creating multiple calendars can focus your schedulingWith all the appointments that come at us during the course of a week, our schedules can become incredibly fragmented. One of the great things about online calendars like Google Calendar, is that you can use multiple calendars.

    In the image on the right, you can see I've created a "time blocking" calendar. I don't share this with anyone. This is just for me. It's amazing how helpful this is when I'm on the phone with a prospective client. With this additional calendar, I remind myself when I feel I'm at my best.

    You can see how it looks. The blue are my appointments, the ones anyone can see if I share that work calendar with them. But the red are the reminders of how I want to spend my time. I like coaching clients early in the week. And I like speaking and training later in the week. So I have that reminder plainly in front of me.

    The blue is reality. The red is ideal.
    Example of a time blocking

  4. Maintenance reminders:

    We all have regular things we need to do. Online calendars make it incredibly easy to set up these repeating appointments, at whatever interval is appropriate. Some idead include:

    • Each of your direct mail appeals (bi-monthly or quarterly)
    • thank you's to donors (monthly)
    • debriefing after your annual event (annually)
    • dates with your spouse or kids
    • just about anything you can think of!

    If you get to that appointment and find it's not at a convenient time, you can always move it! But at least it's there to move!

  5. Toss out your to-do list:

    Everytime I give my time-management seminar, I'm told this is the most helpful tip. If you're like me, you love creating to-do lists but find it far to easy to not look at them again. (The online task lists are even easier for me to ignore.)

    These lists become garbage barges of tasks. A constant reminder of how you're falling short.

    Blow up the barge! It's a mind drain.

    If something is important enough to add to a to do list, it's important enough to add to your schedule. So why not just put it there? Like the step above, you can always move that task on your calendar, but at least you've blocked time to get it done.

    It's an amazing feeling to open up your calendar, feeling pressure to get something done, and seeing you've already blocked out time to do that today!

  6. Keep your attitude focused:

    This is my favorite tip of them all! Despite my disciplined approach to each day, I still find my thoughts turning sour. In just the last month or so, I've started using my "time blocking" calendar to schedule attitude vitamins. The current two vitamins I have are:

    • Monday at 10:30 a.m. a reminder pops up: You will be taken care of
      I love the Ennagram and I get a daily email with reminders about how to be my best self. As a 7, the reminder that I'll be taken care of is something that frees me up from freaking out. Even though I've scheduled this, it still is an amazing peace-filling reminder every Monday.
    • Thursday at 10:30 a.m. I see: blessings are chasing me down and overtaking me
      I recently saw my friend Carrie Wilkerson tweet this phrase. It spoke to something deep in me so I immediately set it up as a weekly reminder. It's amazing how important this one phrase is and how timely it seems to hit even though it's pre-scheduled!

    I've limited this to two attitude vitamins. This helps them remain a "surprise" for me. I think anything more frequent would become annoying.

Those are my 6 ideas, what would you add?

Tell us in the comments below!

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