I’ve never been one to write in a diary or to journal, even though this is supposed to be a good way to better understand where you are and where you want to go in life. I see the beautiful, blank-page books and think, “I’d like to own that.” In fact, I do own a couple of these books. But they are empty. I display them as objets d’art on shelves. They are empty in part because I like them pristine, but I also don’t want to commit my thoughts to those pages because I am sure I would want to make changes, erasures, etc. The pages would be messy and, given my handwriting, unreadable. The book would no longer be lovely.
Blogging is a better form of journaling since I can easily edit the ‘pages’. However, since I publish these pages, I don’t wish to make the blog posts too personal. But I would like to have a record of life events and, on occasion, my thoughts on those events.
My solution to this issue is to use Google Calendar as a sort of diary/journal. I record events (an old man drove his car into my tree!), which I can later find (when did that happen?) by using key word search. This is much better than a traditional diary or journal. Another benefit is that I won’t lose this ‘diary’ since it exists in the ‘cloud.’
I also use the calendar for its intended purpose which is to schedule activities. Beyond that, I use the calendar as my To Do list: I schedule blocks of time for each thing I need to do. I’ve found I tend not to look at To Do lists after I write them. But if I give the item a block of time on a particular day, it is more likely to be accomplished since I receive automatic reminders that also show up in my Gmail account. This type of ‘list’ is also flexible. If I find that I really cannot do that item at that time, it is easy to move it to a different day or time. I am much more productive and organized when I schedule everything.
Different types of items/events can be color coded, which can be useful to highlight when an activity is repeated over the course of the week or month. For instance, I block out all the class periods I teach in one color, with the time I need to leave to make the drive to the college in another color. I schedule those blocks at the beginning of the semester so that I will not accidentally plan a competing event. As another example, when I realize I need to do laundry, I put it on the calendar. I do the same with grocery shopping. Everything is put on the calendar. If I want to make sure I get a book read for book club, I schedule time for it on the calendar.
Some of you probably think I am over-scheduling, but I find that it actually simplifies my life. Once it is on the calendar, I don’t have to worry that I will forget to do it. My stress level is reduced.
When I work on something that was not originally on the calendar, I put it on the calendar so that I have a record of doing that particular job. This is especially important if you do freelance work. You can also make notes in the job block about the task. You can add hot links to the calendar block to provide further information on an event. For instance, if you have a meeting with a new client, you can add the URL of their website to that time slot to provide a reminder to refresh your memory about that client.
This is obviously a personal calendar not meant to be shared. Many of you will have a shared work calendar. However, I know it is possible with Google Calendar to determine whether an item is public or private, so you should be able to use one calendar for both work and personal activities.
I have the calendar pin-tabbed in my browser so that it opens and stays open when I open the browser. This makes it easy to add notes and new events. The calendar is also synced with my phone and Nook so that I can stay on track.
As an organization tool and life record, Google Calendar really does make life run more smoothly and productively while reducing stress. There is no need for a diary, a journal, or to do lists in addition to a calendar. Everything can be done on one screen that is easily modified and won’t be lost. Organize your life with Google Calendar. Give it a try.
Note: Outlook’s Calendar probably can be used in a similar way. I just prefer Google.