Calendar planner

Need to increase your productivity? The use of a calendar is essential

My favorite part of writing for this post, by far, is the fact that it always keeps my eyes and ears open for inspiration. The simplest comment from a friend can snowball into an idea that benefits others.

Such was the case last weekend when my best friend, Haley, stopped by to help me unpack my new house. Haley is a graduate student pursuing a Masters in Interpersonal Communication and is a much smarter version of myself.

We started talking about what was planned for Haley’s final semester and she told me about a workshop she is creating for grad school on the topic of how using planners/calendars helps to time management. The girl has an affinity for paper planners and has created an organizational structure for her daily life through their use.

Naturally, I thought, “hey, sometimes I try to give people advice on time management and planning, let’s brainstorm some ideas with each other.” Haley then gave me an overview of the chips she plans to cover for her interactive workshop.

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1) Take it all as it comes. When a new task appears, write it down on your calendar (paper or electronic) so that you don’t forget to do it later.

2) With these tasks, set deadlines for yourself. It can be difficult to be motivated and to have tasks accomplished by your own assignment. However, putting them in writing will help you stay productive.

“Only work on something if you are productive. If you stop being productive, you should take a step back and work on something else for a while,” says Haley. “That’s why my personal deadlines help me because it makes me work harder but I still have my time.”

3) Plan your week starting with events you can’t change. Start by writing down your work schedule, then appointments, meetings, etc. Then schedule tasks that have more flexibility over time.

4) After doing this, take all those tasks and prioritize what needs to be done first and estimate how long each task will take. Be sure to give yourself appropriate productivity time for each task.

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5) For large projects, consider breaking them down a bit. “For larger projects, I break it down into stages, normally using a concept map to understand the essential aspects of my task and what needs to be accomplished in each of them to make it more digestible,” says Haley. “Once I have the coins, I place them in my weekly schedule of events that I cannot change.”

All the pieces of this puzzle come together to create a schedule that will help you juggle all aspects of your life and increase your productivity. By implementing these ideas into my own planning, it has absolutely helped me become more independent.