Are you using your brain to manage your day? My Toastmaster friend handed me some papers and asked me to submit his work to Toastmasters International for a leadership award. I’ll call him Christopher.
Christopher had met the requirements for his Advanced Leader Bronze award. I am an officer in our club and told him that I would be glad to submit his application.
He was missing some required information
At my desk later I looked over the paperwork and realized that I was missing some information. The application asked for two dates that I did not have.
• The date he had attended a club-officer training program
• The date that he had helped prepare a Club Success Plan.
I have served alongside Christopher as an officer in our Toastmasters club for several years. I knew that he had met his requirements. I was unsure of his dates.
I called and asked for them. He could not remember. “Can you check your calendar?” I asked. “I don’t use a calendar” he replied.
I was speechless.
He tends to over commit
Christopher gets a tremendous amount of work done and he attends many events. Keeping all that in his head causes a lot of stress. It also explains why he tends to over commit himself.
He is a young professional with an advanced degree. He has a full time job that requires travel. He has a wonderful wife and two small children. He makes spending time with his children a priority.
Christopher is the first to volunteer for outside activities. This year he found himself so over committed that he had to hand off his Toastmasters club officer position to another club member. His time with his family was suffering too.
I observed him apologizing for not being 100% on top of things. He was suffering from what I call, Brain Drain. It is that stressful condition you find yourself in when you keep everything in your head.Brain Drain: The feeling of stress caused by keeping everything in your head Click To Tweet
When I expressed my surprise that he doesn’t use a calendar, he just said, “I keep it all in my head. I usually get where I need to go.”
The Professional Organizer and Mom in me kicked in.
“Christopher! You have to start using a calendar – NOW. ” He said, “I know, I just haven’t had time to set it up.”
I asked some specifics about what kind of phone he used – an iPhone and his computer – a windows PC. With these products in mind I suggested that he set up Google Calendar.
Meanwhile we were able to piece together the timeline for his award requirements using my calendar. I was present at each of his required sessions.
A few days later Christopher told me that he downloaded the Google Calendar app to his phone. I said, “Great. It will also sync to your computer.” I walked him through the how to find his Google calendar using his computer. “Cool” was his response when it popped up on his computer with all his appointments.
3 important reasons to use a calendar
1. Your calendar is your roadmap to where you are going. It helps you get where you need to be. It shows you where to add margin to your day so that you can get there on time.
2. Your calendar is an official record of the history of where you have been. Christopher is starting a side business. His calendar will back up certain deductions that he might take when he files his income tax.
3. Your calendar helps you see your commitments. You can overfill your schedule just like you can overfill a container. I suspect that if Christopher had been using a calendar all along, he would not have said yes to so many outside activities.
Choose a calendar that fits your lifestyle
I suggested Google Calendar to Christopher because I know he lives in his phone and that it would be a natural place for him to manage his schedule. It is a cloud based system which insures that if he loses his phone he will not lose his calendar.
There are other calendar options including some more cloud based calendar systems. There are also paper calendar options which work great for many people.
If you are like my friend and are keeping your schedule in your head I beg you to begin using a calendar today.