How to Organize Your Life with Calendars


Many times last year my mind was drowning with details. I needed some way to get a handle on life. To-do apps and my own Gannt charts didn’t seem to help. These prompted my search for using a calendar better. I now rely on more than one calendar to get things done. I started using a Life calendar last year which cured me of that overwhelmed feeling. I hope what I discovered helps you, too. If you’ve been decorating your monitor with Post-it® notes, this article may be for you.

This post works for Google and Outlook. I’m assuming in this post that you have a basic understanding of Google or Outlook calendars. I’ll help you consider using multiple calendars and color-coding them. I also assume you’ve synced your calendars to your phone and/or tablet.

The turning point for me was my Life calendar. I’ll explain it at the end of the post and also share it with you. I’ll write a future post for projects and tasks that are not calendar-related.

How to Organize Your Life with Calendars

Is It Calendar-related?

I recommend anything with a calendar aspect to it should be in a calendar and nowhere else. You wouldn’t need to duplicate that information in a to-do list if you rely on your calendar. Ask yourself whether a task or responsibility is calendar-related. If you need the added help, set a notification to your calendar entry for a text or email reminder.

Consider these calendar entries instead of adding them to a to-do list. These may have a date associated with them, even loosely, like:

  • due dates: library books, Groupon deals, reports, …
  • regular tasks or responsibilities: prayer letters, blog posts, gardening tasks, doctors’ appointments, …
  • financial items: subscriptions, clearing your staff card, …

Use Multiple Calendars

You may prefer to have everything you do in one calendar. When I did this, the tasks overwhelmed me. By having categorized calendars, I have a better grasp of my whole life when I look at them all. I also look at one calendar when I’m focusing on those tasks. My calendars include my personal (default) calendar, life calendar, and a project calendar (in my case, blogging). I recommend color-coding these (I’ll write about color-coding in the future).

Most days, I only have two calendars open.  You may also have a shared calendar with your team that you’ll need to open. If I need to, I’ll open a project calendar. A project calendar could be permanent or temporary: for work, for a home remodel, for a trip, or whatever. (As I said, I’ll write more about projects in a later post.)

If something has no date relation to it, I hesitate to put it in any calendar. I manage tasks like this outside of my calendars. I don’t want my calendar cluttered with items I ignore or to waste time shuffling tasks to new dates. If you want to schedule this kind of task, wait until you’re serious about accomplishing it. (Pay attention to which calendar you’re using when you schedule something.)

I’m in the habit of looking at an upcoming week in my calendars the Friday before.

Get Started with My Free Life Calendar

I’ve already given you some dates in the Life calendar I’m sharing with you.

What’s in the Life Calendar

The calendar has recurring events and tasks that you might have as a fellow Cru staff member:

  • Days of Prayer
  • time changes
  • clear staff card
  • work holidays
  • annual review
  • staff training

These recurring dates are also scheduled. Use them or delete them.

  • when I buy and send greeting cards
  • my prayer letter plan for the year
  • two weeks before we mail our prayer letter, I have a checklist to start the prayer letter process. In the description for this entry I ask:

How to Import the Calendar

I hope my shared Life calendar will help you manage your life.

NOTE: Only Outlook allows me to schedule “annually on the 1st Tuesday.” Only Google allows me to schedule “every χ weeks (or months).” I created these types of recurring dates in Outlook and in Google and synced them. That means you have both types of recurring dates in my free calendar.

For Google Calendar

  1. Download my Life calendar file (iCal) from Google Drive to your computer.
  2. Open Google Calendar.
  3. Create your Life calendar in your Google Calendar.
  4. In the top right, click “Settings Settings and then Settings.”
  5. Click “Import & Export” in the left sidebar.
  6. Click “Select file from your computer” and select the file you downloaded in step 1.
  7. Choose your Life calendar in “Add to calendar.”
  8. Click Import.
  9. My Life calendar events are now in your Life calendar.
  10. Delete some of my events and start adding your own.

For Outlook Calendar

Follow these directions to import this iCal file into Outlook.

Ideas for Your Calendar

Here are some specific items in my version of the Life calendar (not in the one I’m giving you). I share these to give you ideas of what you might add to your Life calendar that will be unique to you:

  • feed orchids (twice per month)
  • mail birthday present to grandchild (May, June, September, and November)
  • schedule DEXA bone scan (every two years)
  • listen to a favorite podcast (weekly)
  • watch the Tour de France on TV (July)
  • spend a day at a state park on free admission day (Nov. 11 for Florida)
  • get a haircut (every six weeks)

If you start using a Life calendar, adding to it over the next year, you’ll depend on it… and save a bundle on Post-it® notes.

Get in the habit of relying on your calendars.

NOTES: 

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