Organize your school year calendar YOUR way

family calendar.jpg

 

photo: photosteve101

Many kids headed back to school this week, and the rest of us aren’t far behind. I thought I’d republish some tips I wrote a few years ago for creating a school-year calendar that works for YOU: 

1. Set an intention for the school year.

Think about the words you’d like to use to describe your fall. Do you thrive on a burst of frenetic energy at the beginning of the year, or are you better off easing into the hustle? If you’re at home during the day, how do you want your days to go when the kids are at school? Will you participate in fundraisers? (don’t feel guilty if the answer is ‘no’.) If you want to read to your child’s classroom or visit the classroom, when will you do it? Will you exercise? Just envisioning how you’d like your fall to look can help you make plans fall into place.

2. Check in with reality.

Now that you’ve thought about how you’d like the fall to go, make sure your plans are all going to fit. Check your calendar against the school year calendar, and make sure your schedule is realistic. Remember, nobody can – or should – do everything. That includes your joiner 13-year-old who wants to be in five clubs and two sports all at the same time.

3. Create a time management system that works for you, and plug in the details.

No matter how cool that jumbo organizing system with eighteen different compartments, a zip-out change purse and a built-in calculator might seem, it’s utterly worthless if you won’t actually use it. Ditto that amazing new phone app into which you keep forgetting to plug your appointments.

It took me years to realize that I’m actually not a hopelessly disorganized, scatterbrained mess – I simply wasn’t using the right tools for my work style and personality type. After a lot of trial and error I realized a few key things about myself:

  • Any planner held closed with a zipper simply never gets opened
  • Ditto purse-sized calendars
  • While smartphone technology is great for on-the-go scheduling, I need to write appointments and to-do lists down -with an actual pencil or pen, and sometimes more than once – for them to really “stick”
  • I need one place to keep track of scheduled deadlines and appointments and a separate place for brainstorming and list-making – and it’s best when those dates and lists are hanging where I can see them many times throughout the day.

I used these self-discoveries to create a planning system tailor-made to the way I work best:

  1. The first piece of the puzzle is my wall calendar, where I keep track of recurring deadlines and family-oriented dates – things that involve more people in the house besides just myself, or things that I really need to be reminded of with a quick glance.
  2. I also have two white boards – a large one that I use as a “master task list” to keep track of ideas and one-day goals rattling around in my brain, and one that offers a week’s worth of spaces for planning out the coming week.
  3. Then I tie all the components together with a notebook-sized month-at-a-glance calendar. 

Even though it’s got a lot of moving parts, once I really figured out what I need in an organizing system, mine was a snap to create (and I had one of those “Duh, I can’t believe I didn’t think of this before!” moments once it was all in place.)

My personal system is great for me because it really helps me quiet the noise in my distraction-prone brain. Each different “type” of information has its own place, giving me space to separate long-term goal-setting from short-term to-dos. If I have a deadline coming up next week, I can fill in a day to work on the project on my weekly whiteboard (and move it easily if I need to.) If I have a few minutes available and can’t think of something to do, I can quickly glance up at my master list to grab an idea of something I’d like to be working on. If I need to check whether a deadline conflicts with a family event, I can easily cross-reference the family calendar with the planner. And I can take the weekly/monthly planner with me when I work at the library or coffee shop. 

But that doesn’t mean you should copy my system wholesale, unless of course you totally identify with the way my brain works! Maybe you are the person who likes to keep it simple with a single planner or wall calendar. Maybe you need wall-to-wall whiteboards for doodling and brainstorming. Maybe you really are the person who can keep track of everything on a smartphone.

When it comes to organization systems, we all have unique needs. I love technology, but I’m a pen-and-paper girl at heart. I’m a “if it’s not in front of me I’ll forget” person. I’m a “the less possibility of me misplacing a calendar the better” person. How about you?

 

 

Want more great ideas?
Join our email community (FREE!)

About The Author

72 Comments

  1. Dianna Brady
  2. Barbara H
  3. Michelle
  4. Emily
  5. Rebecca
  6. Emily
  7. Lisa
    • Meagan Francis
  8. Jaime Longo
  9. Rachel Ambler
  10. SusanP
  11. Tara
  12. Stephanie Renz
  13. Andrea
  14. Tara
  15. Jennifer
  16. Jen
  17. Elizabeth Hosto
  18. Susy
  19. Shari
  20. kate
  21. Natalie
  22. Megan
  23. Priscilla Cavalca
  24. Angela
  25. Kate
  26. Ruth Ann
  27. Robin Riley
  28. Karen
  29. Maureen
  30. Crunchy Con Mommy
  31. akash
  32. Angela S.
  33. Kym
  34. Debra Dane
  35. Abby Taylor
  36. Tara
  37. Leah
  38. Stephanie
  39. Kelly
  40. jill
  41. susan
  42. Melissa B
  43. Cee
  44. Angela
  45. Andi
  46. Amy Cartwright
  47. Miranda
  48. Kirstin
  49. Brook Feist
  50. Heather
  51. Amber
  52. Becky
  53. Meghan
  54. Emily
  55. Kim
  56. Meagan
  57. Carrie
  58. Kim
  59. Janet
  60. Kim
  61. julie
  62. ErinK.
  63. Emily
  64. Courtney Crane
  65. CourtneyC
    • Meagan Francis
  66. emmay8
  67. Dresden
  68. Beth