Managing Time with a Success Calendar

For the last five months I’ve been experimenting with a Success Calendar, a time management concept I ran across in December when reading Carrie Wilkerson’s ebook: Juggling?? Time Management Tips – Strategies for Your Success from 3 Experts!.

Basically, the concept is to plan out first your time off, including vacations and free days (where you aren’t working); and then to schedule out your support/administration days and your focused work days. Everything is color-coded and marked with moveable stickers (so its easy to make schedule changes).

My 2009 Success Calendar (in January)

My 2009 Success Calendar (in January)

Since I ran across this concept at the end of December, when I was doing my whole planning and re-evaluating thing, I decided to give this a try. Right off, it proved useful because my husband and I were able to iron out what our vacation/holiday wish list and get those scheduled and start the planning/budgeting process. Definitely a first for us and so far successful.

Next I scheduled the free days, days where realistically I’m not going to get much work done anyway (too many activities or family commitments). Doing this made me realize why I was getting into bottlenecks with my work. I really wasn’t taking much for free days in some periods of time and in others was taking too many. This helped me kind of plan what I wanted to do, and then schedule around it.

Three types of work days schedule with free time and support days

Three types of work days schedule with free time and support days

Next was the work days. Now I have three types of work – magazine work (a steady client), client work (project-based), and then work on this blog and other personal projects. So I ended up scheduling those out. First the magazine work, because that’s on a production cycle and I can predict when the work is coming and how much time it will take. Then, I had to look at the client work I was doing. That was an eye opener. No wonder I was working so many late nights! I had a lot more work than I had time. (oops)

After using this for five months, I’ve discovered that 1) my kids like to come look at it to see what type of day it is (a free day or a work day); 2) I needed move things around a lot; 3) I really needed to make some changes to my habits to get this to work. 

It’s interesting moving things around; because the theory is that once the calendar is completely scheduled out, you should only swap days around. Well, it’s harder than you think. I keep wanting to add in work days, skip the free days. Now it’s getting difficult to swap out days because I’ve moved so many free days to the latter half of the year. But it is good for forcing me to really look at how much I’m accomplishing in the days that I am working and how much I’m not. 

I expect that as time goes on and I learn how to use this method more effectively and really carve out those focus times during the day (instead of the middle of the night, which has been my habit for the last twelve years). I find its good for me to go back to the interview Carrie did with Sarah Robinson and re-read how she implements it and how it works for her. It helps me keep perspective and learn more about how to make better use of my time.

For now I’m going continue to work with this method. It’s a different way of thinking about my schedule than I’ve used in the past, and it’s hard to break habits. But so far, I have experienced definite benefits to using this method, and think that over time I can make this work further.  If you are looking for a way to balance work and home, I would suggest giving it a try.  For more information, check out Carrie’s ebook Juggling?? Time Management Tips – Strategies for Your Success from 3 Experts!. The info is in the second interview. (the other two interviews are very useful too!)

Anyway, food for thought :)

…Shannon

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