Keeping it Together

January has always meant a fresh start, a blank page, and I love the annual picking-out-of-the-new-calendar trip to the store.  Actually, make that two calendars: family and personal. It’s a simple method that has worked well to date. Traditionally, the biggest question has been what format to use for the personal calendar. Go for monthly (good visual overview but no place to make lists)? Or weekly (can’t see the month at a glance but has space for reminders)? Or daily (lots of space for lists but have to rewrite whatever isn’t completed again on the next day, plus can’t see “big picture)? Or a monthly/weekly, which means everything has to be written down twice? But the point is that there is only one personal calendar to complement the family version.

I realized last month that the simple two-calendar system has somehow evolved into the following:

  • Monthly Family Calendar: on the refrigerator, with everybody’s meetings, activities, appointments, etc.calendars
  • Weekly Pocket-Sized Calendar for Work: has space for specific reminders and appointments on the left, blank side on the right for list-making (often supplement that page with post-it additions because I’m a hardcore list maker). Good for carrying around, but doesn’t have enough space to incorporate all of the stand-alone stuff (see below).
  • Monthly Calendar for Mysteristas: small, stands upright on the office desk just for blog scheduling, which I also use to check things off when the guest posts have been formatted.
  • Monthly Calendar for Book: large size to see activities/deadlines that would otherwise be lost in the work calendar, which brings me to this month’s theme of “anticipation” > today anticipation feels a lot like anxiety about all that goes along with the book coming out in April. But I digress.
  • Cell Phone Calendar: All of the above entered there for reminding purposes. (Not as helpful as it would seem, because  I swipe to clear the screen after a reminder comes up and then promptly forget about it.)

Although I have more calendars than ever before, I feel less organized (and far more overwhelmed).

Must. Stop. The. Madness.

So I turn to you, dear readers: what is your system? I could use some help…or a hug.



16 thoughts on “Keeping it Together”

  1. A friend got me hooked on Erin Condren planners — I buy one for the family and the other to manage my self-publishing and writing. It becomes an addiction.


  2. First off, here’s a hug. Next, that’s a lot of calendars! I organize my to-do lists in Evernote. I can make check box lists and track my progress through various tasks. Now the real challenge – keeping track of my story timelines. That’s a calendar in itself!


  3. Hug. I buy AtAGlance weekly calendar at office store. It’s law office standard where I live. I have a large one for the office and a small one for home that stays on kitchen counter. Every night when I leave the office, I xerox the next day and take it home to reconcile the two. So far, so good. I rely heavily on the phone alarm clock to tell me to get ready to be somewhere or when to medicate dog.


  4. YOW! I totally hear you and am totally impressed. I recommend Letts of London Weekly Quarto, C30YA. It’s the got the months of the year on the bottom, which I love. But it’s a weekly view, which doesn’t help when it comes to monthly deadlines. I have a monthly I bought at the dollar store, but I need a yearly. Or… a sea of post-it notes, which is what i actually have. Good luck!


  5. Oh, gosh, hugs! I can relate, having multiple calendars. But of those, only one is the main go-to source of where I’m supposed to be when. I would be lost without it, and it is covered with sticky notes and other taped reminders. I also keep a weekly desk calendar where I keep track of writing deadlines.


  6. So glad I am not alone! I use three wall calendars (family, day job, writing) and two At a Glance calendars, one on the academic year and one on the calendar year. I really like them because they have tabbed months so I can plot out the months there, and then the daily stuff on the weekly pages. They do help me keep on track. But I see some names here for calendars that I have to check out. Oh, my, there needs to be a twelve step program!


  7. Aw! Sending lots of hugs your way, Cynthia! I love picking out a new calendar too! My husband and I always choose one with a fabulous foreign location–this year it’s Italy 🙂 Like you, I have one calendar at home and one at work, and sometimes I feel like my brain operates as its own weird version of a day planner, constantly whirring through to-do lists and appointments, lol.


  8. I’m most effective… oh wait, {{{hugs}}} first… when I schedule everything. EVERYTHING. When I shower, when I check emails, when I write, when I study, all around appointments and other places I’m required to be present. It doesn’t mean I accomplish everything, but I stand a much better chance of doing so when it’s on my calendar. And I only keep one—on my computer. Which doesn’t help if I’m away and need to schedule something. It is what it is.

    The other bit that helps me is to give myself what I call “Slush Time”, usually around the noon hour. During that period of time I can do whatever I want.


  9. I let my daughter pick out my calendar this year. It’s a red panda wall calendar. Unfortunately, I already lost it and now need to buy a new one, which needs to be the same or daughter will be offended that I’m not using her xmas present.


  10. No time for hugs. It’s not on my schedule. Ok, fine. Virtual hug on its way to you. We have a kitchen calendar and I feel the same as Mary … if it’s not on there, it ain’t gonna happen. Finally, after 32 years of marriage, hubs finally gets it. The other thing I can’t live without is a pre-printed weekly page I created. I’m like Peg, I have everything preplanned— when I eat, when I read, when I play with the dog … everything. Then every Sunday I write the pertinents on my weekly schedule, as well as all my project deadlines and plans for writing stuff. And I cross off as I go. If something doesn’t get done, I just try and go back to pick it up if I have a free minute, but if it doesn’t get done all week, I take a good long look at it to see if it really needs to be done. Sometimes I add it to next week’s schedule, sometimes it goes bye-bye.

    And yes, anticipation and anxiety are two sides of the same coin.

    If you’re interested, there’s some stuff on my website that goes with a Time Management workshop I teach …

    Good luck!


  11. HUGS! I can relate. My go-to is my Outlook calendar for family stuff, which I update electronically, but print and post in the kitchen. If an event isn’t on there, it’s not real and not happening. The family is learning! I have another Outlook calendar for work, which I don’t print. They both used to sync to my phone, but the family one won’t anymore and I’m COMPLETELY lost these days. Argh! I haven’t mastered the art, as explained by professionals, of scheduling even the smallest of tasks. I rebel, resist, and flat out ignore those items, even if on my calendar. Which might be why the novel is so far behind. . .I just struggle to schedule writing time, grocery trips, chore hours, and stick to it. *sigh*


  12. I’m the least organized person ever, but I’m obsessed with the fantasy. I used to do best with an enormous desk blotter monthly calendar in conjunction with a small, day-by-day flip calendar for daily lists. Now I print out the free download planner pages at
    each week. Amazing! Key for me is separating work from personal lists and picking daily priorities. Hugshugshugs!!!


  13. Oh, yes! The first of the year is always a time for renewal and reorganization, but figuring that out…. My wife and I both use electronic calendars, but this year we actually (finally!) merged those calendars, so we have access to all the various obligations each of us have, both together and in separate directions. It’s sometimes tough to keep track!

    I know friends who have big wall calendars and color-code each person’s various obligation throughout the month (one particular family has four kids, so it’s a lot) but I like the electronic since it’s always with me, always easy to check.

    Good luck with the year ahead—a busy one, I know, and a milestone one too!


  14. Lisa, wow, those pages are cool! Thanks for the link (and the idea of dividing personal and work is appealing too…to ponder). And really appreciate the hugs. 🙂 ❤

    Art, I love the idea of merging electronic calendars…pretty genius! Re: the wall calendar, reminds me that my mom used to color code our calendars when I was growing up (I was orange ink)–she was super organized like that. I, on the other hand, would probably start using one color for someone and instantly lose that pen and mess up the whole system. Thank you so much for the kind wishes. Hope *your* year is wonderful!


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