Below are a couple of ideas for making more effective use of your calendar. I prefer electronic calendar tools, because they offer reminders, but these ideas work for paper calendars as well.
If you are already overwhelmed and unorganized, why would color coding your calendar and the effort it takes, be worth it? One reason is that it creates a time-use report card that can pat you on the back or get you back on track. If you have outlined some goals for yourself, such as how many hours you’d like to spend in a week doing “x” (volunteering, exercising, billable hours, etc.), then color coding your calendar items is a great way to quickly see, at a glance, where you are out of alignment with your goals. For example, if you’ve decided to spend four hours each week volunteering, and you’ve coded the volunteer time on your calendar as blue, a quick glance at a weekly or monthly view for all the “blue” will give you a sense of whether or not you’re reaching your goals in that area. It also helps you to get a sense of what your week is going to look like, how it will be segmented, without having to read every appointment. If you don’t know how to color-code your calendar, a quick search on the “help” feature of your program should provide the answer. If you use paper, consider carrying one of those triangle-shaped highlighters that has three colors in one pen.
Block vs. Linear
Is your default a monthly (block) view? If so, I think you’d save some time if you switched to a weekly (and linear) view. A block calendar shows that you have activity on a certain day, but gives you no idea how much of your day is booked without clicking on each individual item. A week is often enough of a “big picture” view, and a linear
arrangement allows you to see, at a quick glance, when you are committed and when you are free. Combining color coding with a linear view allows you to use your calendar more efficiently because it gives you the maximum amount of information in the minimum amount of time. Thanks for reading! And if there is something you’d like to see me cover, please request it in the comments and I will do my best to accommodate you!