A paper diary and a smartphone

A calendar is one of the main elements of a Personal Productivity System. Most of you will have used a calendar for many years as it’s difficult to get by without one. How much it is used varies from person to person.

I’m using the term calendar, but you might be used to other terms such as planner or diary.

You can have multiple calendars. It’s useful to have a family calendar on the kitchen wall to share information. It’s also useful to keep a work calendar separate from home if you have good boundaries between the two.

In this post we’ll focus on what you need your calendar to do as part of your productivity system. We’ll check and see if what you already use works for you or whether it’s time for a change.

Basic Requirements for a Calendar

  • It must be easily accessible everywhere you need it.
  • It must show your time-bound commitments for each day.
  • It must be easy to enter information into.
  • It must be legible.
  • It must have enough detail in it to be meaningful.
  • It must make it easy to make changes.

‘Good to Have’ Features

  • Having a way to back it up in case of loss.
  • Visual cues of how committed your time is.
  • Integrate with your task lists.
  • Have shareability of selected appointments or all commitments as required.

Your Own Preferences

The above lists are features that I believe are important in a calendar for productivity. You will have your own preferences too. What features or benefits do you like in your calendar? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

One decision I see people struggle with is whether to go with a paper-based diary or an electronic calendar. There are some very compelling reasons to go digital, integration is one of the main ones. However, if you know that you work best with paper and you want to stick with it, then do so. Having a system that you use is much more important than having one that does everything except engage you!

If you are already invested in the Microsoft, Google, or Apple universes then all of these have suitable digital options. You don’t have to stick with them though, there are many different apps and services available.

Next Step

Test your existing calendar system against the lists above. If it does everything you need then you have the first productivity tool in place.

If you fancy a change, or your existing tool isn’t quite right, look at what’s available that suits your needs. It will be worth holding off making a final decision until you have read about the other two tools you need, Task Management and Reference Library (coming soon).

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