Are You Ready for Back to School? Manage Your Time and Calendar to be Totally Prepared!

One of the best ways to conquer the list and the overwhelming stress ‘all the things’ bring is to manage your time and plan ahead. Planning your time and your calendar when you’ve got a ton going on is essential to staying on top of things and keeping it all together.

Ready to get that calendar in order? 

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Can you believe summer is over already?  I’ve become my mother and am now finding myself using the phrase that we all hear growing up all while rolling our eyes, “Time goes by so fast.” 

Yes mom, I understand now. I totally get it! My son is going into 6th grade this year and it is hard to believe that elementary school has come and gone already.  

Along with this idea that time is passing us by and school is about to begin (or beginning for some already), there comes a laundry list of things that start piling up in our minds.  Dates to remember, things to purchase, events to register for, appointments, practices, a new schedule…. The hot mess express will be departing soon, watch out!  

It’s time to start planning for back to school.

One of the best ways to conquer the list and the overwhelming stress ‘all the things’ bring is to manage your time and plan ahead.  Planning your time and your calendar when you’ve got a ton going on is essential to staying on top of things and keeping it all together (the hot mess train is going to run down sooner or later).   

So, do you want to boost your productivity and get ahead of what is coming?  Then you, my lovely friend, are in the right place. Grab my free planning guide below. Let’s manage and plan your time shall we?

 
 

First things first. 

Before you begin, there are a few things you will need.

I’m a paper and digital girl.  Some people are all of one or all of the other and some are like me and go for both.  However you like to keep track of things, go for it as long as it works for you. Since I like both, in this post, I’ll be walking you through the process using a combination of both paper and digital tools.

Try any combination you choose.  If one doesn’t work, it’s always OK to add or take something away.  Just be sure to keep your tendencies in mind so you aren’t working against yourself.  If you never pick up a pen to write something, maybe a paper planner just isn’t for you.

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Tools to Use and Choose From:

1. Paper Planner

This can be any type of planner you choose.  A fancy Erin Condren planner, a fun spunky one from Target, a printable version from Etsy etc. can work as long as you actually use it! 

I personally use the Full Focus Planner from Michael Hyatt and I love it.  It’s wonderful with helping me with my goals and keeping track of everything I need to do.  Whatever you choose, use something that makes you happy. Do you like color? Do you need simple and clean?  Does it need to be a certain size? Make sure to pick a planner type that will you will enjoy using. Do a little research and see which one has all of the elements you want such as keeping track of goals, meal planning, trackers, or even just plain ol calendar pages.  Go with your tendency.

2. Digital Calendar

Whether you are a digital person or not, I highly recommend utilizing a digital calendar.  If you are a paper only person, keep an open mind. Having your calendar at your fingertips on your phone is very convenient.

iCal, Google Calendar and Outlook are all good digital calendars in addition to many apps that have the same capabilities.  Google Calendar is what I use and am familiar with. Just like my planner, I love it!  

3. Task management program

Asana and Trello are the typical go to programs I see most often for this, however, there are many to choose from.  Remember the Milk, Wrike, Wonderlist etc. will work.  

Why am I suggesting a digital task management program if I use a planner too you ask?   Convenience. I always always have my phone around me wherever I am. I have my planner nearby most of the time, but sometimes it stays at home. 

Having a digital system in addition to my paper planner makes certain that I can always put an idea or task down without forgetting. When I do my weekly and daily planning, they both get looked at so nothing is forgotten.

OK, now that you have your tools, let’s get started.

In order to get all the information you need to plan your calendar, I have a series of exercises for you to complete.  The idea is to plan not only today or this week, but a long period of time such as a quarter, a semester or a couple of months.  By reviewing and scheduling ahead further than just a couple of weeks, you will automatically be ahead of the game and have the ability to be more intentional with your time.

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Time and Calendar Planning Exercises

  1. Brain Dump

  2. Special Dates and Holidays

  3. School and Vacation Dates

  4. Weekly Events, Tasks and Appointments

  5. Weekly Goals and Habits

  6. Transfer of Information

Select the time period you will be planning.  3 months is a good amount of time to handle at once.  Go through each exercise and write down on paper (or type in a Word or Google Doc) everything you can think of that you need or want to remember and block your calendar for.  You will transfer your information to your calendar/planner when you are done.

Some Helpful Tips:

  1. Print the free Time and Calendar Planning Guide and keep it handy during your planning session to keep you on track.

  2. Start big and narrow down.  The goal is to schedule a large chunk of time, not just tomorrow or this week.  When going through your information, think on a larger scale first, the year, and then go from there, months, weeks, days, etc.  Following this funnel of big to small, items on your calendar will fall into place much easier.

  3. Write or type your information first then transfer to your calendar and planner at the end to expedite your session.  Going back and forth will take more time and may lose some information on the way.

  4. When you brain dump, just write.  Don’t think about details you can’t remember or try to look things up.  That’s what the rest of the exercises are for.

Let’s get to it!

Exercise #1 - BRAIN DUMP

Brain dumping is literally “dumping” all of your ideas out of your mind onto paper (or digital space).  A good brain dump is a fantastic way to get all that ‘stuff’ that’s overwhelming you out. Putting your thoughts down on paper will allow you to unload stress and free your mind to make room for more focus and intention.  It gives you a chance to see everything and actually put it in some sort of order rather than it working over and over in your mind.

With all the things we do in life today, it is impossible to think that we are capable of remembering everything.  It’s just not possible, so if you think you should be able to, let it go sister. Give yourself some grace and start writin’!

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Your brain dump can be used for many different applications, but for the purpose of this exercise, we are focusing our dumping on all things date and time related.

Take some time, and write down anything that comes to mind that you may have going on.  Is it your mother-in-law’s birthday on Thursday? Does your son have a birthday party to go to in two weeks?  Will you be going on vacation?  

This isn’t the time to be perfect or remember everything, it’s just to unload what comes to you.  Keep in mind doctors, school, birthdays, etc. while you’re doing your dump. Don’t go looking at a calendar or digging an invitation out to see when the party is, just write.

GO!

More Exercises

OK, now that you’ve got your brain dump complete, you can continue on with the rest of the exercises.  In exercises 2 through 5 you’ll need to do a bit of research. Unlike the brain dump where we just wrote what came to mind, you’ll now need to find specific dates and times for events, tasks, etc.

As you come to each exercise, refer to your calendar, friends and family and the internet for the answers.  

Examples:  Do you want to remember all of your nieces and nephews birthdays, but never keep them straight?  Text your sister-in-law and have her send you a list of birthday dates. Do you wish that you remembered your sister’s anniversary so you can finally send her a card on time this year?  Ask her the correct date. Want to know what day school ends? Look it up.

Exercise #2 - Special Dates and Holidays

For special dates and holidays, think of birthdays, anniversaries, and major holidays such as New Year's Day and Thanksgiving.  If you need some external input, Google ‘major holidays’ for a list and remember to ask your family members and friends.

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Exercise #3 - School and Vacation Dates

Write down any vacation time you are aware of.  Will you be going out of town? Do you have a staycation planned?  Can your husband only take vacation during a certain time?

If you have children is school, mark down any dates of importance such as start/end dates, days off etc.

Exercise #4 - Weekly Events, Tasks and Appointments

We all have weekly tasks and events that are recurring.  Some examples may be working out, cleaning, laundry, grocery store, tutoring, soccer practice, etc.

If it happens weekly, write it down.

Exercise #5 - Weekly Goals and Habits

Consistent weekly tasks will allow you to be more productive and stay on top of things.  Examples include: Deleting downloads, restarting your phone, planning your week etc..

Exercise #6 - Transfer Your Information

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Congratulations!  You’ve done a lot of work!  Let’s do a little review of what you’ve accomplished.

Time and Calendar Planning Review

You have selected a time period to plan.  3 months is a great start. You have gone through the following 6 exercises to plan your time and calendar.

  1. Brain Dump

  2. Special Dates and Holidays

  3. School and Vacation Dates

  4. Weekly Events, Tasks and Appointments

  5. Weekly Goals and Habits

  6. Transfer of Information

You have gathered a ton of information, dates, appointments, events etc. and have transferred it all to your calendar and/or planner.  This is huge! It may not seem like it now, but you have given yourself the ability to be more intentional with your time and will have more capacity to focus on what’s important (not ‘all the things’).

Do this planning session every 3 months and you will be so on top of it.  For now, you are ready for Back to School.

Happy Planning!


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