Big life lessons you can learn from your calendar

It surprises most people when I say...

that since the start of this whole Covid experience, and especially since I’m living in Melbourne, that I’ve used my calendar more than B.C. – Before Covid.

What that all about?

I’ve turned to retrospective calendaring in a big way because I was forgetting. Days were blurring into one another and I wanted to keep track of what I was doing. It’s normal to forget things. Ordinarily, we forget a lot of what happens on an average day, like what you had for breakfast or dinner last week or even yesterday. 

What’s been different during Covid is the lack of environment change which is tripping up our regular way of tracking time.

So what I’ve done since the beginning is make note of what I did on a day. Capturing it retrospectively in my Google Calendar. If you read my blog posts regularly, you’ll know that I love calendaring.

Calendaring helps us move forward towards our goals, but it also helps us keep track of where we’ve been and what we’ve done in the past to get to where we are now. In B.C. times, I would go back and change my calendar to reflect the true reality of my day, stretch out a meeting time, change the end time on a catch up with a friend from eight to nine thirty pm at an errand, I’d seen the opportunity to run here and there.

It’s great for future planning so you can apply what you already know about how long something’s going to take to the next time that that comes up or something similar does. It’s also really good for memory. Even prior to this experience, it’s been very useful to go back and check when I last caught up with a friend because it related to a story they were catching me up on, or remind a client as to when we began working together.

So, yes, even though we’ve spent an awful lot at the home over the past months, I’ve found it really handy to enter events of what things have been filling my day. I take note of when I’ve walked the block – 8:30am. I’ve made note of working hours and in the description, I’ve captured some highlights that I achieved. I’ve even been making note of what movies I’ve watched solo and with my housemates. Great for those times when people ask for recommendations. Trust me, after a week of doing this, you’ll look back over your calendar and your memory will be jogged.

Time management tools aren’t just for productivity, keeping on top of the everyday tasks and managing appointments that we have. A bonus of having captured so much information is that your time management tools become an excellent resource and reflection tool for improving your life. These tools can be used to ensure that we are heading in the right direction. If you have a vague sense that you should be doing something else or feeling in a rut, your calendar can help you answer the question “Is this really what I want?” and “Am I happy?”

The disorganisation and digital clutter was wrecking her headspace and making her feel out of control. 

Interestingly, once we sorted it all out and had a look at what was in her collection of files, what became increasingly obvious was that she had bought and downloaded a lot of educational resources. She’d downloaded it sure, but never got into it. She’d meant to. And there were some really useful things in the mix there but they hadn’t been explored and digested. 

One way to get into this...

 Is to follow these steps:

  1. Make some time to sit down with your calendar, on your desktop, your phone, or paper diary;
  2. Look back over the past two months, read the entries in detail;
  3. Observe yourself, what days bring back good memories? Feelings of achievements?
  4. Now what life category area do you spend the most time on? Is there far too much work and not enough family time? No exercise time?
  5. Now what do you want to do differently in the future?
  6. Take steps towards getting your balance back by anchoring action items related to each life category into your calendar. 

Another tool that helps with answering these questions is to journal your patterns. As a small business owner there are days when I’ve found myself thinking ‘Do I keep going? Wouldn’t it be easier to work for someone else?’ 

As someone said though, never quit on your darkest day. It’s days like those where I’m questioning everything that it’s useful to look back over my calendar and my journals. It’s in my journals that I track my highs and my lows, so I think back to roughly the last time I felt like throwing in the towel and comfort myself. 

By seeing trends in myself I can soothe myself, and point out that “Christie, you’re doing that thing again. It’s okay, remember last time we felt this we needed to slow down. So take some time now and recharge and then we’ll get back on the horse. Tomorrow is going to be awesome!” 

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After some time of retrospectively calendaring and journaling, you start to notice what it is that throws you out of equilibrium. New opportunities but no space to look at them? A family member asking you for help? A new marketing method to fit into your workflow? With this data you can start using it to improve your business and your life. Time management tracking allows us to go with those moments that feel really big and overwhelming and take it in our stride. Having these self-care systems in place offers us the chance to learn from them and take them as part of the journey, rather than succumbing to the overwhelm and believing it’s all over red rover. So what do you think? Will you try retrospective calendaring or journalling or both, a try?

Talk soon,
Christie

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