Calendars – It’s Okay to Have More Than One

Hello. I’m a writer and I have a confession. I can’t be satisfied with just one.

It’s true. I am not, nor will I ever be, a one-calendar woman.

As much as I would like to be dedicated and faithful to just one, I can’t do it. Three I can do. Two is possible, but never, never just one. Now, before you judge too harshly, you should hear me out.

At any given time, I am using Outlook, a weekly planner, or a wall calendar. Each satisfies me in a different way. One calendar fulfills me visually (wall), another feeds my organizational ego (Outlook), and a third lets me do whatever I want (planner). Do you deny yourself this amazing trio?

I have a full personal life along with deadlines for various work such as editing, writing, book reviews, consulting projects, and coaching clients. No amount of sharpening my pencils to write smaller in the designated space or other types of dieting is going to get me down to one calendar. Really, I’ve tried.

It’s easy enough to schedule appointments and meetings, block off time for exercise or travel, but it’s hard to know how much time any writing, editing, re-writing, submitting, querying, marketing, consulting, or coaching project will take. Sure, I can set a timer for each category, but, seriously, these tasks take as long as they take. When I think a project will be a breeze, it’s a hurricane. When I think it’ll be like dancing in quicksand, it’s crossing the finish line without exertion.

I use the wall calendar for a visual of each of the unpredictable categories. I use colored, small, rectangular flags with a sticky end on one side. I use one color for an editing deadline, another for a writing deadline, and so on. I write the project name and due date on the flag and stick it at an angle to the wall calendar in the box for due date. When I complete the task, I straighten the page marker and move it to the date I completed the task (hopefully it’s ahead of deadline, so I can have a special reward).

At a glance, I can see what income-producing deadlines are approaching and work them into my weekly and daily schedule along with other goals and appointments. My weekly planner and Outlook match up, eventually. Well, okay, only when they are in the same room at the same time. You see how I need space and variety, right?

Each type of calendar uniquely satisfies me and allows me to life my life in an organized, colorful fashion. I can’t imagine expanding to four calendars, but I reserve the right to experiment.

I know I’ll always have at least two calendars – online and paper. If I lose/misplace the paper calendar I have the online calendar. If my computer is on the fritz or not available, I have the paper calendar.

Do you keep your writing goals amongst your daily goals? How do you keep your writing projects organized?

Lisa J. Jackson is a self-employed editor, author, book coach, consultant, Big Sister, cat owner, and chocolate lover. She’s addicted to Sudoku, cafés, coffee ice cream, and words…she never tires of words. She writes fiction as Lisa Haselton and has a blog for book reviews and author interviews and is on the staff of The Writer’s Chatroom where she gets to chat with writing professionals on a weekly basis — and you can too! ©Lisa J. Jackson, 2010

4 thoughts on “Calendars – It’s Okay to Have More Than One

  1. Three separate calendars?? OMG, I’d lose my mind. I’m a Mac user and the Mac equivalent of Outlook (Entourage) left a lot to be desired the last time I tried it. I made the switch to Google Calendar and never looked back. I can sync it with all my devices and it is accessible from anywhere, so it is always handy.

    I can keep multiple, separate calendars on Google Calendar so, I have one for personal stuff, one for work stuff and one for the kids. I can share calendars with other people, so my husband can see when the kids or I have appointments (or a deadline in my case), and I can also see his schedule too. When it gets too crowded, I can turn his calendar off so I only have to see the things I am responsible for.

    Now, the wall calendar and the stickies appeals to me for project planning, but even then I’d have to have transfer critical dates to my electronic version. Google Calendar is definitely my trusted source.

    Time management is one of those activities where only the basic skills and tools can be introduced, but it is up to each individual to figure out what combination works best for them.
    It took me a while to find mine, but so far, so good. Of course I’m all over any excuse to visit Staples and use sticky notes.

  2. Wow, Lee, you have it all under control! 🙂 You’re right about each of us having to figure out what works best. Took me quite a while. I tried the “only one” process while in the corporate world, but felt so constricted. And then I played around with having a PocketPC so work and home would be synched together – but I worried about losing the unit, dropping it, or having the battery die.

    Paper and pencil have always made me feel the most relaxed. 2/3 paper + 1/3 online tracking = me well-scheduled 🙂

  3. @ Lisa – You opened the Pandora’s Box on one of my favorite topics – task/time management. As a recovering project manager, my life has been immersed in calendars. I’ve tried so many systems and software options, that I can’t remember them all.

    Like @Lee, I am now a die-hard Google Calendar girl. Oh yes, Google rules my world. I have a post up my sleeve about my love affair with Google Calendar and how it has – and I’m not kidding – completely replaced my To Do list (even though I devised my own, very complex To Do list document in Excel using GTD principles, color-coding, and macro-programmed expiration dates!)

    Oh, the joys of an organized calendar (or calendarS, in your case). Sublime. 😉

  4. Pingback: Manage Your Time, Deadlines, and Sanity with One Tool – Down with the To Do List! « Live to Write – Write to Live

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