One of the facets of life I find to be most intriguing is the way other people spend their time, but beyond that, how they schedule out and keep track of what they use their time to do. There’s a good chance if you’re reading this that you’re a woman and you wear a lot of hats. You may have a career, business, family, home, hobbies, and more to fit into your 24 hours of allotted daily time. If you’re like me you might just ponder how the next person packs it all in. Maybe you have already read this book, twice, too.
Over the last few years I’ve had to reconsider my relationship to time, and how this is a huge indicator of the status of my mental health. I share the following with you to hopefully inspire you to think more strategically about your own time or in the very least, to know you may already do some of these same things in your full and lively personal and professional lives!
I’m a believer that any system for keeping things organized, needs to be easy to manage and understand. Anything complicated steers me away from the system to begin with, and this is true of how we schedule time in our home and professional lives. Beyond scheduling time-specific events like appointments and milestones, I find this to also be true with scheduling goals, lingering to do items (e.g. paint the powder room), and important tasks that aren’t time-specific (e.g. fill out the kid’s baby books).
Let’s explore this more!
A SYSTEM FOR SCHEDULING GENERAL TIME
When it comes to a general schedule on a month-to-month basis, we use a giant framed wall calendar from Lindsay Letters. We went without a family wall calendar from March to September while we debated pulling the trigger on this one, and if it weren’t for a pandemic and being in lockdown, I don’t think we would have made it out alive! This wall calendar is our home base, the place where almost everything is noted and listed for Andrew and I to see multiple times a day, and keeps us on the same page each day.
Things we put on here: trips or vacations, doctors appointments, birthdays and anniversaries, outings and commitments like golf club for Andrew, and then suggested ‘monthly magic’ ideas like visiting the apple orchard in October or the beach in June or the tree farm in December. Monthly Magic ideas are kept at the bottom of the calendar and are suggested based on the weather and holidays happening each month. Sometimes Monthly Magic suggestions also tie into respective quarterly goals I’ve set.
A SYSTEM FOR SCHEDULING PROFESSIONAL TIME
When I’m scheduling personal or work related commitments, I track those in both my paper planner (always) and my iPhone as a back up when I’m out of the house and schedule something (a newer strategy thanks to what feels like a full plate right now).
Personal commitments are things like doctor appointments, coffee with a friend, a late night phone call or something during the day when I’m not with the boys or Andrew. Anything not necessary to write on the wall calendar goes in the personal planner.
A work related commitment however, can be one of may things! A phone call, floral delivery or pick up, deadline, client meeting, and so forth. The kicker here is that if the commitment is one happening outside of school hours and time when Andrew is at work, then it gets put on the family wall calendar so that discussions about childcare and expectations on who is where, can be had well in advance. Sometimes I do work related things during the day when the boys are home with me and Andrew is at work but that’s not necessary to put on the wall calendar because it has nothing to do with Andrew!
I also typically track the things from the family wall calendar into both my planner and iPhone just to be safe. Triple duty feels a little like schedule overkill but I always want to avoid missing something important or being late.
A SYSTEM FOR ALL THE THINGS THAT FLOAT AROUND IN YOUR HEAD
This is far from fancy but it works well. I keep a nice coiled notepad (coiled at the top so writing isn’t awkward) with my laptop and planner at all times. This notepad is where I keep track of any notes, thoughts, doodles, numbers, ideas, and so forth as they come to me. Sometimes I’m jotting down an essential oil ratio for a soap recipe, sometimes it’s notes I’ve taken in a client call, other times it’s a grocery list or places to visit on an upcoming trip. But to eliminate an overload of sticky notes and scattered thoughts, I use this notepad as an overflow basin to what’s happening in my head and heart.
But here’s the kicker! A few times a week I go through the note pad and I take action on what I have written down!
If I were to just leave the notepad full of THINGS as is, this system wouldn’t work or do much for me sitting untouched week after week. So I go through and each and every jotted down thing gets acted on. A soap recipe gets copied over to a Word document on my computer. Notes from a potential client call get typed up into a proposal which is then saved in a folder on my computer if they book with me, or deleted after a month, if they do not. A grocery list is transferred over to Shipt or organized on a new piece of paper for Andrew to take to the store with him (I organize the items based on where they are located in the store to help make his shopping easier). Then that paper gets trashed. Places to visit are put into my Phone or those establishments are followed on Instagram.
A SYSTEM FOR THE BIG IMPORTANT MILESTONE LIFE STUFF
Last but not least, is this ambiguous category!
There are a lot of things that float around in my head but don’t really have a place on any calendar. These are usually big milestone type things and distant dreams like ‘Celebrate 20 years of marriage in New York City’ or ‘Build our forever home and celebrate with a big party!’. For these types of ‘commitments’ they’re usually worked into my goals somehow (which I have more on this topic specifically here), or are so special and meaningful to me and my husband, that they don’t need to be kept anywhere yet except in the front of our heads and hearts. We’re cognizant of these desires and a lot of our daily choices are to work towards these very dreams.
We also have a running shared Google document that keeps track of longer lists for things like information for kids’ birthday parties, anniversary trip details, what happens in the case of a house fire, what home upgrades need to be done, etc. This is an extension to the family wall calendar and helps us stay on the same page. The Google document isn’t referenced often but it’s not meant to be. It’s there for very specific circumstances whereas the calendar is more of a daily reference.
And that’s that! Let me know below if any of this is helpful for you. Or better yet, if you have a specific way of tracking time that feels simple and revolutionary in your life, share it below! Xo