I think most of us don’t have analogue calenders these days. Neither did I: for both my personal and my work calendar I use Google Calendar. My phone shows appointments in these calendars (Anroid built-in functionality) and I can set reminders on my phone for appointments I don’t want to miss. Useful, because I have my phone always with me, so I never miss anything. The same goes for my laptop. On both devices I can toggle personal and business appointments on or off based on what I want to see, and most importantly: everything is in one place. An absolute must from a time-management perspective.Therefor I was a bit skeptical when Jeroen van Sluijs, one of my colleagues, told me about his analogue calendar. He showed me, and it was a simple piece of paper with the entire year calendar printed out on it. How on earth can this be useful when I have all this fancy technology to do the job? Nevertheless, I decided to give his calendar a try. I printed the calendar on a piece of paper and put it next to my desk. I used a text marker to mark all official holidays, as well as “days off”. The basic rule here is: pink means day off – you get to sleep out. During the year I started adding other stuff. Conferences, due-dates for call for papers. Important dates I definitely didn’t want to miss or was looking forward to. I decided to mark those my drawing a circle around that date and writing a 1-word description next to it.
And imagine what? It works great!
The reason that this is useful to have in addition to your existing calendar is that whenever the scale of your calendar-view changes, the significance of appointments changes as well. It’s quite easy: when I’m looking at a day-view I want to know exactly at what time what’s going on. I need to go to get a haircut at 3pm. Great, I’ll be there. On month-view however the time isn’t important – just the fact that I’m getting a haircut on that date will suffice. On a year view, seeing all year’s appointments simply would result in one big unusable and unreadable list. It’s far too detailed!
That’s exactly what this calendar next to my desk does: it gives me a filtered view of the year, only showing the appointments that are important on a year’s-view. I don’t mark my tennis lessons there every Friday. Neither do I put down when I’m getting a haircut – I’ve got Google Calendar to do that. The year calendar is for stuff like days off, conferences, deadlines of projects etc. It’s hanging next to my desk, so whenever I want to know something like that, I simply have to turn my head and I see directly what’s going on.
Everybody is different, and especially for these kind of things it’s important to not just do as you’re told, but choose the solution that works best for you. However, the calendar has worked great for me so far – so maybe it will work for you as well. Also, figure out your own standard – use different colors with different meanings. Write stuff next to it. Draw arrows. Maybe use certain shapes for lining-in certain dates. Get creative! It’s analogue, the sky is the limit!
The calendar I use was generated by this pre-historic but still working CGI script: http://cgi.dit.nl/kalender.cgi (dutch). Be sure to mark “Enkel de kalender (printen)” at the bottom, and off course any other options you prefer. English versions available as well and easy to find. You can find an example here: http://www.freeprintablecalendar.net/2011/printcalendar.aspx.