How to Keep a Calendar

Whether your calendar is personal, professional, academic or social; whether your calendar lives in your pocket, in a planner, on your wall, or on your computer or phone, a few general tips can help keep you sane and organized.


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    Choose the right calendar for you. No one calendar is right for everybody, but you should consider these factors.
    • Portability. Will this calendar need to go with you to meetings or gatherings? If so, choose something that fits easily in a pocket or purse.
    • Space to write. Even if the calendar you use to decorate has pretty pictures or funny sayings, the calendar you use to track your appointments should, above all, have plenty of space to write down your appointments.
    • A format that you like. There are calendars for the calendar year (January-December), for the school year (August through July), for lots of writing, for saving space, by days, by weeks, by months. Shop around during calendar season or back-to-school season to find the right one for you.
    • Space for related information. Should it have a phone list or book attached? Pockets for bills? Space for a daily to-do list or journal entry?
    • Visibility. Will the whole family refer to this calendar, or would you prefer to keep it private and personal?
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    Keep your calendar handy, and keep a pen or pencil close by. If it's not there when you schedule your appointments, you can't write them down or check against prior commitments. Whether that means leaving it to your purse or tacking it to your wall, make a point to have it with you:
    • In class.
    • On your desk.
    • By your phone.
    • Wherever you open your mail.
    • During gatherings, meetings, or outings.
    • Anytime.
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    Write appointments and tasks in it as soon as you learn or think of them. You can also write in reminders for yourself ahead of time. Do you need to book reservations for August when it's still April? Could you save time buying all your greeting cards for the month (or year) at once? Write those events in both places.
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    Refer to your calendar frequently. Look at it every time you schedule anything new. Take a minute each morning or evening (or both; whatever works best for you) to look ahead to tomorrow and the week ahead, at the least. Your daily visit to your calendar is also a good time to write down anything you heard about that day but didn't yet record, and to look ahead for possible conflicts.
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    If you use an electronic calendar on your computer or phone, set reminders to pop up enough in advance of your appointments. Most good systems allow you to adjust the reminder time, so set it so that you have enough warning. Leave yourself time to prepare a homework assignment or presentation. Leave yourself time to stop what you're doing and travel to whatever you're attending.
    • Create multiple events or multiple reminders if you need to do multiple things. For example, set one reminder to order a birthday cake a week in advance of the party. Set a second reminder with enough time to dress up, pick up the cake and get yourself and the cake to the party on time.
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    If you use an electronic calendar, learn to set up recurring appointments. Your spouse's birthday and your parents' anniversary will occur on the same day of each year. Perhaps you have a class or meeting every Tuesday at 3pm or rent is due on the first of every month. Your computer or phone can alert you about something each month, week, or year.
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    Share your electronic calendar or certain events on it with others. Be sure your event states a location. Then, send an event or meeting notice to invite others in your company or family to an event. Or, share your entire calendar with colleagues or family, so they can see when you are busy.


  • When switching to next year's calendar, look back through last year's. Write down any birthdays or anniversaries that you want to keep. Also write down anything you do annually, even if you haven't specifically scheduled it yet.
  • Writing in pencil or keeping an electronic calendar can make it much easier to change your schedule quickly.
  • If you like, use colors and stickers to draw your attention to certain items in your calendar, to personalize it, and to make it more fun. There's no reason that a calendar has to be bland and boring.
  • Experiment with your calendar and your habits to learn what works best for you.
  • Keep one central calendar or at most, one for you and one for the family. More calendars will not make you more organized.
  • Use bright colors and put in a visible spot.
  • Your calendar can help you cut down on paper. If you receive something that requires attention at a particular time later on, file only the paper you will need again. Write the details in your calendar, along with where you filed the paper.
  • Schedule yourself free time, too. We all need a bit of downtime to do what we enjoy, catch up on our sleep, have some fun, and be with friends and family. If you're very busy, write in your free time in advance to reserve it, and to remind yourself to take it.


  • Your calendar is a tool. It doesn't control you; you control it. Be flexible about your schedule and don't worry if you don't always do things just because they're in your calendar.

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Categories: Calendars Planners and Schedules