To kick off Get Your Tech Together Week on the blog, I thought I’d take a look at the number one system that keeps me organized: My calendar. Invaluable, can’t-live-without, and tricky.
As my family knows all too well, having a great calendar doesn’t mean I always get us where we’re supposed to be. Missed doctor’s appointments, birthday parties entered on the wrong week… at the end of the day a calendar is only as good as the human that enters information into it.
For this reason, I have a tense relationship with my calendar. On one hand, I put absolutely everything date-related into it, allowing me to free up the mental energy I’d need to remember it all. My brain can be more present, rather than having to track all my appointments. David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, calls this a “trusted system”: If you trust that absolutely everything you need to remember is documented in one place (not on a sticky note here, a napkin there…) then your confidence goes up and stress goes down.
For the most part, that’s me. I am fairly certain that the synapses in my brain that remember your schedule have all dried up, thanks to my heavy reliance on calendar apps. But sometimes there are breakdowns— mistakes or omissions are made, and I have no brain backup to help me out. Like when you’re finally unwinding on the couch after a long day when you receive a text from a friend: Just got to the restaurant. Are you here? The worst. When my calendar fails to get me where I need to go, it’s simply mirroring back my own failure. I’d love to blame it on a glitch or a bug, but it’s me that messed up.
If you’re feeling like your calendar could use an upgrade, or that you need to start relying on one more, I’ve put together some of my favorites so you can choose the perfect one for your style. Whether paper or pixels are your thing, it’s all about feeling organized (and ending the dreaded double-booking).
Keep your appointments online, and you’ll be able to access your schedule wherever you and your devices happen to be. Most calendar apps will even let you check your mate’s and your kids’ schedules while you’re at it, which is invaluable when it comes to on-the-go scheduling. Here are some of my favorites.
Working with Gmail? Google Calendar is an intuitive choice: it can troll your email for reservations, pull out the dates and automatically add them to your calendar. It can also email any event to all your invitees, request RSVPs, and automatically update your attendees whenever you update the event. I live in Google Apps all day— Google’s Calendar is my calendar of choice. The Android app is great, and the iPhone app keeps getting better.
Cozi lets the whole family share grocery lists or chores in real time, and gives you access to everyone’s schedule, so you don’t discover you’ve been volunteered as a parent chaperone on the same day as your glycolic peel. Color coding makes it easier to see who’s doing what, and avoid conflicts at a glance.
If you forget to add appointments to your calendar because you kinda hate typing them in (and inadvertently hitting some random button that makes the whole thing reset), you might love Fantastical 2. It’s so-named because of its “magical” ability to take a note in natural language (“Dinner at the Levy’s at 3pm”) and use that note to populate your calendar.
The keyword here is syncing: Sunrise syncs with your Google Calendar, iCloud, Facebook and a host of apps (Evernote, Meetup and many more) to corral all your events in one place, no extra effort required. It has easy-to-spot color coding, too.
If you love clean design and big images, Cal may be your pick. It features gorgeous photo backgrounds, pictures of your contacts and integrated maps. It works with Any.do task lists, which will let you organize your to-dos under “Today,” “Tomorrow” “Upcoming” and “Someday”—ideal for the procrastinator who needs to prioritize.
I could not live without my digital calendars, but it wasn’t long ago that I was a card-carrying member of the Filofax cult. No screen can stand in for the feeling of paper in your hands—or the pretty embossing, foils and even spiral bindings that paper date books can offer. Here are a few of my favorites.
Wanna DIY it? They year is almost over, but if you’re resolved to get more organized, here are some stunning printable calendars. They’re free, and impeccably designed.
- Free printable by Oh The Lovely Things
- Printables from Eliza Ellis
- Three minimal styles from Lemon Thistle
- Fun and cheery from He and I
- Black and white and cute all over from Colour Moon
Day one of Get Your Tech Together Week is DONE! I’ll be posting something new every day to help you get organized right quick. Tomorrow: I’m shoring up your online safety.
Do you have a favorite calendar to get you through the year? Tell me about it in the comments!