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Shiny Happy Calendar

I just received my 2011 datebook in the mail. I’m one of those old-fashioned people who still uses a paper calendar. I carry it with me everywhere, and I feel as if it is my life. But, I do worry about my archaic scheduling method at times since it can’t be backed up. What would happen if I lost it? 

But, this isn’t about worries or problems. This is about the joy that I experienced as I opened the package containing the sour-apple-colored, faux-leather, week-at-a-glance diary. Around August of each year, I begin to schedule events and activities for the following year. This process begins very haphazardly—with notes in the margins of late December, to remind me to record the scheduled items for the future year. As September approaches, I know it’s time to take the leap and order the next year’s calendar. Then I wait for it to arrive.

The sight of the blank year ahead excites me. For me, it represents a year of possibilities that I’ll create—with my family, friends, clients, colleagues, and the world. I’m always amazed how quickly the white space fills up, and my weeks and days sometimes become fuller than I would prefer them to be. It also reminds me that I have a choice as to what I schedule, and what I choose to do with my time, energy, and attention. 

As 2011 approaches and I transition over to my new calendar, I want to keep the following in mind:

White space is my friend.
The less time I have scheduled, the more opportunities I have for creativity, new and interesting projects, and self-care. This will allow me to be more effective, efficient, and energized when I am scheduled with clients and for the other meetings and appointments that make up my work and life.

I control my calendar.
Just because someone wants to meet with me, it doesn’t mean that I must meet with him or her. Lunch with a long-lost friend, business brainstorming with a colleague, and even client requests can be scheduled based on my needs and priorities. I must keep practicing “No,” “Not now,” and “That doesn’t work but this does.”

Schedule what is important.
In teaching people how to budget and save, financial planners use the term “pay yourself first.” This means put aside money out of each paycheck that goes for savings or important purchases/investments before you begin budgeting. This way, your starting point includes savings and investments. I will apply this approach to those important uses of my time including exercise, business development and professional writing—three of my important focus areas for now and the year ahead.

Know what is important.
Before I can schedule what is important, I need to be clear on what matters most to me—for the day, week, year, and beyond. What is important to others around me does not necessarily mean it’s important to me. I may even need to take time out to evaluate (and re-evaluate) what is important at any time. It will change as I change.

Now, I’m off with my favorite pen to start crafting my year ahead!