Just a year ago, I was hand-writing all my plans, events, and class schedule into my Day Designer planner and every time something changed, I would white it out and re-write it into the new day or time. Over the past year, I began shifting into using Google Calendar more frequently and boyyyyy has it become a game changer in my time management and organization skills. Especially as an freelancer and entrepreneur with a different day-to-day schedule, utilizing a digital planner has been very efficient for me since the start of 2019 and I’d thought I’d share a deep dive into how I specifically use it and how it can help you organize certain aspects of your life.
Not everyone is necessarily like this, but for me personally, I love to color code and keep colors to a specific area of my life. So as seen in the screenshot below, green is anything work related (green because moneeeeeey), blue is for all my workouts, yellow is for anything podcast related, red is anything urgent (like appointments, phone calls, meetings, etc), orange is anything semi-urgent, and then purple is my standard color which I usually use to put in anything pertaining to personal life/on-the-go related.
This weekly schedule shown above is from sometime in July, so the schedule was a lot lighter than my typical “work days” since I was still taking time for myself for the Summer! Also something to note, the gaps are usually the time I take to drive to the next event or get ready, depending what it is.
Structuring my days like this allow me to stay focused on the tasks for the day and I know ahead of time what to expect. In fact, I usually know a week ahead because I prefer to plan for the upcoming week on Friday afternoon from the week before. Also, my personal pro tip: I prioritize my workouts so I always kind of plan those first if it’s a normal week or if I know I am going out of town that week and need to rearrange my workout schedule. If you need extra motivation to get your ass to the gym or to a workout class, then I think this could be helpful for you…to visually see when you will be working out next and schedule it like an appointment.
Back in the day when I was in college, I would also put my classes on my schedule so I would plan my work or hangout time around my classes. For those who are really curious, I color coded my classes in a dark blue on Google Cal 🙂
I do miss writing in a physical planner because I love having the cute aesthetically pleasing calendar next to me and in my bag wherever I go, but it was also a hassle when things changed or if I didn’t have it with me, I couldn’t check my schedule as easily. Which goes into one of the pros about Google Calendar–if plans change, it’s SO easy to just take the event block and move it over to another day or simply delete the event. I am kinda OCD about certain things and I like my planner/schedule to really reflect what I actually did, so when I used a paper planner, I would take the time to white out any cancelled plans (lmao). Another pro about utilizing GoogleCal is that if you like to review or audit your time at the end of the quarter or end of the year, since this is digital, it’s right there to look through and analyze how you spent your time and how you can improve it moving forward.
Other Google tools I use to plan and stay organized is Google Drive and Google Keep. In my Google Drive, I organize my personal projects and business with my different emails, as well as specified folders. This is very helpful if you have work shared with other people; in my circumstance, I share folders with my business intern, as well as my podcast co-host.
For Google Keep, I utilize this for all my weekly to-do lists because I can always access it when I’m on the go. It’s great for keeping any quick notes or to-do lists that you want to get done for the week and need to return to maybe in the evening after work. Another pro about this is that you can also share notes with other people and even create a “label” for it, which my co-host and I did for our podcast and we are able to refer to it when we have a list to go over during a meeting or simply to check in on for the week/month. On the other hand, I still maintain a daily to-do list notepad that I keep on my desk to refer to for the current day.
The reason why I believe structuring your day/week/month specifically into some sort of planner or digital calendar is the key to time management is because just like when you KNOW you have to be in class or at work during specific hours, you are there and you know you are accountable to get there on time. When you schedule in other parts of your life the way you do with class or work, then it will mentally force you to begin treating it as a priority and to get it done without wasting time. I like to be as productive and efficient with my time as possible, so I give myself concise hours on when I’m working, or when I am at lunch, working out, driving, etc.
I hope this help some of you gain new ideas on how to manage your time and plan your life more accordingly. Let me know if you like to schedule events (like a workout) ahead of time as well 🙂