Now that the lockdown has eased, many of us have busier schedules than we’ve had in months.
But with dinner dates, gym classes, and days back in the office to keep track of, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
Fortunately, FEMAIL has spoken with experts from across the UK who have shared their tips on how to keep your calendar organized and easy to manage.
From bullet journaling to setting up regular dates with friends, each of the tips is easy to follow at home.
BLOCK PRACTICE SCHEDULE FOR THE BED
As lockdown gets easier, many of us see their calendars filled with appointments and social events for the first time in a while and experts have revealed how to stay organized when life gets busier (stock image)
Stephanie White, owner of educational platform and copywriting company By The Way Creative, credits the books for keeping her life on track.
The idea is simple: make your day easier to manage by ‘blocking’ periods for different tasks, be it lunch with friends, a rehearsal class or a big presentation. This is how it works:
- Write a to-do list every night before you go to sleep so that you can sleep better knowing that everything you need to do the next day is stored somewhere. If you’re worried it’s keeping you awake, do it a few hours before going to bed
- When you wake up, write next to each item on your to-do list how long you think it will take (better to overestimate). For example, an online training can take ‘one hour’, while writing a proposal can be ‘three hours’
- Once the tasks are broken down into specific times, enter them in your paper journal or digital calendar
- Remember: Don’t forget to make time for breaks, which are essential for staying productive
Stephanie said, “I have 121 things on my mind at any given time and when I don’t like a task I can easily be distracted from it.
‘This single, life-changing tip has allowed me to nearly double my productivity, gain clarity and (crucially) start relaxing in my busy copywriting business.’
STANDING DATES WITH FRIENDS
Stephanie said, “If you have a bestie you’d like to see more often, give him a night. I see my best friend every Tuesday. If I’m invited to something on a Tuesday … that’s a no from me! ‘
BRING FRIENDS TOGETHER TO SAVE TIME
While getting organized is a habit you can get yourself into pretty quickly, Vanessa said to make sure you repeat the habit regularly.
She added: ‘Make sure your social plans are a priority and only make plans you really want to attend to make sure you go through with them.
“It’s no secret that life is busy and unexpected things pop up, but being selective with the plans you make can help you stick to your social agenda instead of having to go on bail.”
If you’re in a situation where you’re doing too many things, you can get around this by getting the people you want to see together, Vanessa said.
She added: ‘Instead of meeting friends one by one, you meet three at a time, introduce them and interact with them all.
“It’s not as personal as a one-on-one interaction, but it can still be very personal, especially when you mix the right people, and it saves time.”
“ If you’ve booked a redundancy plan on a Friday night at 7 p.m., use a blocking schedule to end your day early so that if something goes wrong, you don’t rush to the bar in a stressful situation. ”
Stephanie added that you should allow yourself at least a day between social occasions so you can recover, ready to get going for your planned week.
PLAN FOR THE WEEK AHEAD ON A SUNDAY
Vanessa Gebhardt, Mind Coach at Freeletics, advised checking your calendar every Sunday evening so you know what to expect for the next week.
She said, “Not only is this beneficial to refresh your memory, but it also gives you time to resolve any issues you may have, such as if you’ve booked double yourself.”
Vanessa added that this prepares you mentally for the week ahead by saying, ‘Going from doing nothing to planning every day can be extremely tiring and overwhelming, so it’s important to prioritize your mental health.
“ If you’ve got a week full of plans but don’t think you can hack them, jot down or let your friends know you can’t hang out this time – they’ll understand. ”
RECORD A PHYSICAL DIARY – AND MAKE IT BEAUTIFUL
Writing everything down is a crucial backup if you find yourself often forgetting plans.
Digital diaries and calendars are great, but a physical journal may help you keep plans in mind.
Vanessa said, “Using the phone diary can be great for keeping track of everything, but it can also be helpful for writing your plans into the planner with pen and paper.
If you’re a visual person, making your plans aesthetically pleasing can be a huge benefit to staying on track.
“You can even go to the next step and plan meals, water intake, hours of sleep, workouts, and your priorities for the day or week.”
JUMP ON THE BULLET JOURNALING TREND
A cross between a calendar and an old-fashioned journal, bullet journals – named for their elaborately coded bullet points – have garnered a cult following.
The bullet journal was invented by New York designer Ryder Carroll, who was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) as a child. He wanted a place where he could write down his to-do lists and goals.
He launched his bullet journal in 2013. Carroll explains exactly how it works on his website bulletjournal.com.
It seems almost impenetrable to beginners: what the heck is ‘fast logging’? How do you migrate a task? What does ‘X’ – or ‘O’ mean by the way? Followers insist it’s easier to do than explain.
So here’s a simple (ish) version: start with a blank A5 notebook (although enthusiasts will love the Leuchtturm1917 with its signature dotted pages) and a pen (Staedtler is the brand of choice here). Reserve the first four pages for your index.
This is where you write down where you wrote things so that you can find them later (for example, ‘p28: box sets I’d like to see’). Following are four pages for your “future log,” with each page divided into thirds and each month given a grid for you to record birthdays, deadlines, or events.
The next double page is for your ‘monthly log’. So if it’s January, use the left page for a list of each day of the month. Monday January 1st would be 1M, then 2T, 3W and so on, up to 31W. Next to the date, write a bullet point of everything you need to get to that day.
On the right page, write a list of tasks you want to complete that month. This could be anything from the mundane (get your packs steamed or make an appointment at the dentist) to the more lofty (plan a summer vacation, find a new job, run 5 km). Number pages as you go.
Now you can start your ‘daily log’ for January. That’s a two-page-a-week spread that lists the things you need to do each day in succinct bullet points. This is ‘fast logging’. The idea is to write these every night the next day.
Carroll came up with a set of symbols for submissions: so a simple point is a task, an ‘O’ is an event, and a ‘-‘ is a note (this could be anything from thoughts or observations to something funny you get on the bus. heard).
Once you’ve completed a task, cover the dot with an ‘X’. If you come to the end of the week or month and there are tasks that you haven’t crossed, use ‘>’ to show that you have ‘migrated’ the task to another day or month. If all of this makes you want to lie down, it can reassure you to even hear Carroll say you need to tweak his system so it works for you.
Andrew Wilson, bullet journal expert at Executive Pens Direct, said, “The bullet journal method has become a popular way to keep track of everything from daily goals to fitness tracking.
Keeping a traditional diary makes it easy to visualize plans and appointments and plan each day accordingly, with sections dedicated to morning, afternoon and evening.
“Update your journal with the essential details of plans, and even become aware of your writing by adding your thoughts and feelings to find that balance and improve your mental well-being.”
Andrew continued, “The benefits of bullet journaling are that it can help us focus on the present moment while untangling our thoughts.
By creatively displaying our to-do list for the day, we are much more likely to feel less overwhelmed and will happily tick off tasks once they are completed.
“The mental health benefits of this approach are endless because however you use your journal, you take the time to be attentive and reflect on aspects of your life.”
He added: ‘There is often a push with bullet journals to make the entries decorative and visually appealing – but no matter how you use your journal, the most important thing is what you gain from it.
“You may need simple bullet points of thoughts, feelings, or tasks written down in a notebook to calm feelings of overwhelm.”
Andrew Wilson recommended keeping a bullet journal so you can easily visualize plans and appointments and plan each day accordingly, with sections dedicated to morning, afternoon and evening (stock image)