If your to-do list is never-ending these days, you’re not alone. From work assignments and client meetings to shuffling the kiddos to baseball practice, doctor’s appointments, or piano lessons, there’s always something keeping us busy. And just when we knock a few things off the list and feel a sense of accomplishment, five or six more tasks quickly take their place.
Adulting is difficult. That’s why it’s more important now than ever to have a trusty tool to help us manage our personal schedules, time, and activities. Doing so eliminates guesswork, keeps us on task, and tells us where to be and when.
But what’s the best option for you as we approach the New Year?
USE A CALENDAR
There was once a less frantic time in all of our lives when we didn’t need a calendar and were okay with flying by the seat of our pants. We could get by with mental notes and snickered at those who couldn’t. Things are different now, and calendars are the perfect remedy to stay on task of all our professional, personal, and family commitments.
Here are a few types to consider:
ELECTRONIC OR ONLINE CALENDAR — Digital calendars are portable and can easily be backed up and accessed on multiple devices. This means you can schedule a meeting or appointment between tasks using your phone without having to worry about carrying around additional items all day. Everyone has their cell phone on them, so it just makes sense. Digital calendars are also better if you want to create recurring events, block out time in your day well in advance, and even share your schedule with an assistant or family member. Plus, you can set notification alerts as reminders.
PAPER CALENDAR — If the digital age isn’t quite your thing and you want something tangible, there are still desk calendars, calendars you place on the refrigerator door, and even pocket calendars that allow you to accomplish many of the same things that digital calendars do. This will require more manual work, and there’s no backup if you lose it. But a few reasons why some people prefer paper or physical calendars is that they can remember tasks better simply by writing them down. A paper calendar is also great for a quick visual reminder rather than unlocking your phone and going to a specific app.
USE A DAY PLANNER
Day planners are a step above a traditional paper calendar and mirror many of the benefits and features of a digital calendar. Perhaps more enticing is that they allow you to create a system that works for you. There are day planners out there for every organizational style, from at-a-glance daily and weekly appointment books to goalsetting diaries, planner-organizer combo sets, and everything in between. Here are just a few things you can keep track of with a day planner.
- Setting annual goals
- Monthly overviews
- Weekly tasks
- Daily logs
- Meal and workout plans
- Shopping lists and household tasks
USE TO-DO LISTS
Even if you prefer using a digital calendar, paper calendar, day planner, or a combination of all three, there is something about creating a to-do list on a notepad or using a smartphone app like Evernote. Creating a to-do list right at the beginning of your day or the night before creates structure for your day. It also gives you a sense of accomplishment as you’re able to cross off completed items as the minutes and hours pass by. Some people only make to-do lists for the day while others create longer ones for busy weekends or an entire work week. Additional benefits include:
- Relieving stress
- Less to keep in your head
It’s important to remember that regardless of which option you choose, none of them will be effective if you don’t consistently incorporate them into your daily and weekly schedules. Choose an option (or several) that works best for you, and then stick to it.