Calendars are incredibly useful tools aren’t they? They allow you to worry less about missing something and keep you on track with what you’re supposed to be doing and where you are supposed to be. The question is, are you utilizing your calendar as a useful tool in your hands? Or are you allowing your calendar to rule over you and cause you stress and overwhelm?
It’s a tricky question, isn’t it?
Why does the thought of a calendar bring panic? Why is choosing a calendar so incredibly hard? It is simply from the sheer amount of options that are available to you? Wall calendars. Digital Calendars. Paper calendars. Pocket calendars. Planners. To-do lists. Daily Goal sheets. The list goes on and on!
It’s so easy to see where you can get lost in the decision. Where you can easily dive headfirst into overwhelm just trying to determine a type of calendar for you – let alone starting to add all of your activities and tasks onto it!
Where do you even begin? How do you begin to determine what on earth is right for you? How do you set it all up? What system will work best? Most importantly, where on earth do you even begin to tackle this conundrum?
My Friend, there’s no need to panic! I’ve got you!
Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
The Big Picture Concept of the Calendar
Whenever you start creating a calendar system, you need to have some way to see the big picture. You need a place to see what your month, your next couple of months, your year looks like at a glance. Month-by-month view grid calendar are such a useful and necessary tool to see this big picture view! But as important as the big picture is, there are a bunch of details that come with life, right?
The Daily Details
So where do you track all those daily details? Those phone calls you need to make, projects you need to work on, and habits you are trying to create. How do you keep your to-do list with your calendar and make them work together without loading up your calendar so much that you can’t even see that you have an appointment written down for today?
Let’s face it, no grid calendar is going to be big enough to hold all of your appointments, meetings, and vacations, along with all your daily tasks and goals. So how to you make it work? By having not just a grid-like calendar, but using a form of daily or weekly tracking page in conjunction with your grid calendar. They go by many different names, but whatever you choose to call them, they are wonderful tools available to help you keep things on track. They help reduce panic and overwhelm because you’re not trying to remember everything and do it all at the same time!
Determining what to do list template is best for you to use is a topic in and of itself – which is why we talk about this very topic in Finding Your Perfect To-Do List. (You don’t want to miss it – there are lots of free printables included!)
Start with the Big Picture
So today, let’s stay focused on the big picture. Let’s build a framework for you to be able to see your year, your month, and even your day from that overview perspective. That concept sounds incredible, does’t it? Getting to see that big picture, to know where you’re going so that you don’t feel like you’re wandering aimlessly through your days. But where do you even begin to choose what calendar is right for you? There are so many different options that it’s really hard to even find a place to start looking for a calendar, let alone find the calendar that is right for you and your family!
Now, before you start panicking on me – and even before we start looking at the different types of calendars – I want you to start by answering a few simple questions. Believe it or not, the answers to these questions will help you figure out what calendar type will work best for you! Ready? Here we go:
- Where do you spend the majority of your day? Are you at home? Are you driving around town? Are you at the office?
- When you need to check your schedule, do you gravitate toward looking at your phone or laptop? Or do you look towards a calendar on the wall? Or do you look towards a notebook or binder sitting on a table?
- Do you like using paper and pens (or pencils) to plan? Or do you hate writing and prefer digital?
- When you add an event into a digital calendar, does it get done? Or do you snooze the reminder and forget about it?
- When you add an event to a paper calendar, does it get done? Or do you forget about it?
- How many family activities need to fit onto your calendar every day? Do you have 1-2 activities to schedule each day? 3-5 activities? Or are there more than 6 activities each day?
- Do you need your family calendar to be in a place where everyone can see it? How many people in your family need to access the calendar? Where are they when they access it?
- When you look at a calendar, does your brain naturally think that the week starts on Sunday or Monday?
- Do you want or need your calendar to be portable? How portable? Do you need it in your hand on your phone? What about in a binder that you carry with you? Or perhaps a half-size binder that you carry with you? Or will your calendar have a specific spot in your home where it is easily seen, but seldom moved?
Now, these questions might seem totally random, but in thinking through and answering these questions, you just narrowed down the type of calendar that you are looking for! Remember, choosing a calendar system isn’t about simply adopting someone else’s system that will bring you a lot of work. It’s about finding and creating the system that is the best one for you and your family. A calendar system that will work for you and not one that you have to to work for! It’s about finding that system that will bring you more peace, more calm, more space while reducing your panic and helping you stay on track.
So what types do you have to choose from?
Digital calendars are wonderful when you are on the go and when you have multiple people that need to see what is going on, but those people might not always be in the same spot when they need to check the calendar! There are a lot of digital calendars that you can find, but here are the two that I have used the most and like the best (plus, they’re free!):
- Google calendars
- iCal for Mac
Bonus Tip: Utilize the colors in these calendars! When the calendars start to fill up, it’s nice to be able to look for only one color and find your appointments from the sea of your family’s activities!
Have you discovered the magic, the wonder of printable calendars yet? As you have probably guessed, this is my favorite type of calendar. What could be better? A beautiful calendar that you can print out on your own printer. There’s no need to go anywhere and hunt for that perfect calendar! You can choose the style you want (colors, portrait vs. landscape). You can choose the size you want (1/2 page, 1-page, or even a 2-page spread for each month). You can choose custom factors (writing in your own dates or choosing a dated calendar, choosing whether the week starts on Sunday or Monday). Printable calendars are so helpful when creating your own calendar system. They give you that big picture view while allowing your personality to shine through.
If you are looking for some wonderful printable calendars in a great variety of styles, look no further than my friend Alli over at The Scattered Squirrel. For years, Alli has done an amazing job creating beautiful, easy to use grid calendars – in fact, her blog has become my go-to spot for finding the grid calendars that I use! Follow this link to check out her post filled with options for your 2021 printable calendars.
Choosing the Right Calendar for You
There are so many different calendars to choose from! There are so many options that could work! Which one do you actually choose? Where do you even start to begin?
Do you remember those questions you answered earlier? Did you think I forgot about them? Far from it! Your answers to those questions will help you determine your own unique starting place when looking for a calendar. They will help you narrow down what type and size of calendar will serve you the best. Here are some examples to help you:
Example #1 :: Mary is a busy mom, always on the go around town. She likes to check her schedule in a binder or journal. She is a paper and pen girl who won’t get something done unless she writes it down and has 3-5 activities on each day of the calendar. She needs her calendar to be portable, but not too huge to carry around, and she naturally think that the week starts on Monday.
My Suggestion :: Take a look at a half-size printable calendar with a Monday start.
Example #2 :: Elizabeth is a busy momma at home more of the time. She likes to keep her schedule in a binder and paper and pen is the way to go. She has tried a digital calendar, but once those alarms are snoozed on her phone, she gets distracted by someone or something and forgets that the alarm went off in the first place! Some days she has only 1 activity on her calendar and other days there are 5 or 6. Her calendar doesn’t need to be portable, but has a central spot in her home where it lives and she can easily reference it. She naturally thinks that the week starts on Sunday.
My Suggestion :: Tale a look at a full 2-page printable calendar with a Sunday start.
Example #3 :: Anne is a lady on the go. Her days never look the same and her location from one day to the next is never consistent. She always makes sure to have her phone with her so that her children and husband have a way to reach her. She hates writing things down and reminders on her phone are her best friend for keeping her on track. Anne and her family have many different appointments each day – color coding is so helpful to see which family member is responsible for each one! On top of that, everyone needs to be able to see the whole calendar from wherever they are.
My Suggestion :: Take a look at a digital calendar and don’t forget to use the color-coding features!
Paper Calendar vs. Digital Calendar
Cue the debate. The passionate arguments. Take a moment to formulate your argument. Is it better to have a digital calendar or a paper calendar? Which one should you use? Everyone says you should use…
Hold on a minute here. Stop thinking about what everyone else says that you should use. Stop engaging in a pointless debate! Instead, start thinking about it this way: What method (digital or paper) will serve me and my family best? Remember, your calendar is really a tool to serve you and help you. So, what will serve you best?
Can I let you in on a secret? It doesn’t have to be one or the other! You can have a mix of both! Personally, I love the paper calendars. We homeschool, which means I’m home a good percentage of every day, so having a paper calendar just makes sense for me. However, my husband (who is a digital guy all the way) and I also keep a google calendar that holds all of the events and appointments that effect our entire family. That way we can both see the calendar and add things to it with a click of a button (or tap of a finger) and know that the other one is seeing the same thing. Yet, there are a good number of things that only get recorded on the paper calendar. This hybrid approach works great for our family.
One final thought: When you first try to create your calendar system, you might not hit the exact right balance on the first try. Don’t give up! Remember, you can adjust as you go! Choose a method and try it for a few weeks. If it’s working, keep using it. If it’s not working, make an adjustment or two until you find what works best for you. It took my husband and I a long time to figure out our current system and our system today is not what it was 1 year or 3 years ago. As your family grows, your calendar system will grow and change – and that is a good thing!
So what about you, my Friend? What calendar system will work best for you and serve your and your family best? Let me know about the system that you use (or are creating!) in the comments!
And don’t forget to watch for our next organizing post when we start diving into those daily lists!
Fun fact: The names of the three ladies in our examples today are sisters in a Jane Austen novel. Which novel? Answer in the comments and you just might win a prize!
- Finding Your Perfect To-Do List
- How to Find Clarity and Eliminate Stress Using the Power of the Post-It Note
- How To Create A Daily Homeschooling Routine
- How to Set Goals that Work for You
Elizabeth Tatham, founder of Inspiration in the Everyday, is a homeschooling momma of 5 who loves helping other homeschooling mommas create a unique homeschooling adventure your kids will love…without the overwhelm! Join in on the journey with 7 simple steps to make your homeschooling day go faster, easier, and with less tears here.