A client said to me recently "I'm sick of forgetting everything... but I also forget to check my calendar..."
As you probably know by now, I think calendaring is essential for both work and personal use. I keep my Google Calendar open on my browser tab all day and frequently check the mobile app as well when away from my desk. My client, and many other people, have a much more set-it-and-forget-it mentality. They’ll accept events and then ignore their calendar for days at a time relying only on the reminders. As my client identified that it’d make their life way more easier if they consulted their calendar regularly, we launched into a strategy to help them develop the habit. As this is a very common problem, I thought I’d share the points with you all too.
Consistency is Key
There’s no doubt about it that consistency is the cornerstone of effective time management. And in the realm of habit building, there’s one habit that often goes underappreciated but can be a game-changer in how you manage your time and lead a more organised life: consistent calendar checking. It’s the habit that ensures you stay on top of appointments, deadlines, and your daily schedule. I suggest to my clients that at the bare minimum, checking their calendar twice a day is a good start: once in the morning and once later in the day, perhaps in the late afternoon or before bed to preview the following day.
Incorporating planning into your daily routine is an excellent way to streamline your mind and set yourself up for a productive day. Just as you may have a morning or evening routine, make planning a part of it. The key to establishing this habit is integration into your daily routine. By doing it at the same time every day, it’ll become second nature.
Creating the Habit
So how do we create this habit?
First of all, reflect on what your morning looks like and think about where it makes sense to add a few minutes to check your calendar too. I’ve had clients add this calendar check before or after their daily journaling habit as both activities complement each other. But whether it’s savouring your morning coffee, enjoying a peaceful moment before getting out of bed (whatever works, no judgement), when brushing your teeth or right before you start your workday, the key is consistency. And consistency matters more than the duration. If you can commit to checking your calendar at two specific times every day, even if it’s just for a minute, you’ll be on a roll.
And ensure that your calendar is synchronized across all your devices. This way, you can access your schedule from your phone, tablet, and computer seamlessly. And make it obvious, keep your calendar open and move the mobile app somewhere obvious on your phone screen. I have Android and my calendar is one of the main buttons at the bottom.
At this stage of the habit building you want to set alarms and reminders: Leverage the technology at your fingertips to help you. Set up alarms and reminders on your phone or computer to prompt you to check your calendar at your designated times. This way, you’re less likely to forget.
And if you do forget, don’t beat yourself up, get back on the horse. On the flip side, every time you do remember, celebrate! Celebrate things like staying ahead of deadlines or arriving on time for appointments. Immediate rewards create positive reinforcement for the habit.
And finally, it might seem like a small habit, but don’t be shy, get an accountability partner onboard. Share your goal with a trusted friend, family member, or Time Trainer (wink wink) who can gently remind you to check it regularly. Peer support can be a powerful motivator.
Essentially the steps are:
- Connecting to your why – remind yourself of the benefits of regular calendar checks: improved time management, reduced stress, better planning, and fewer missed appointments.
- Starting small, just twice a day
- Pairing it with an existing habit (called habit stacking)
- Making it obvious and very visual
- Setting clear cues, using alarms and reminders
- Celebrating progress and being patient when you forget
Remember, establishing a new habit takes time and effort. Be patient with yourself and recognise that there may be occasional slip-ups. The key is to get on track and continue refining your routine until checking your calendar becomes second nature. With dedication and these strategies, you’ll harness the full potential of your calendar to enhance your productivity and daily life.