Calendar Stress? How To Fight And Win

By on December 15, 2012


Back in May, children’s author Micki Bare launched a blog called Navigating Hectivity for women like her who were juggling the demands of the “crazy, supermom, career-woman lifestyle.” One of her first entries was an amusing post about how all the hullaballoo about the Mayan prophecy that the world was ending in December 2012 was making her anxious; not because she actually thought the world was going to end, but because just thinking about calendars was enough to trigger stress in her.

“Trying to incorporate all of our activities on a calendar is next to impossible,” she wrote. “There are meetings, projects, school activities, family activities, social gatherings, enrichment activities, errands, workouts…” — so you got the sense that the world would indeed expire before Bare’s to-do list.

But personal calendars are designed to help relieve stress, not add to it. Heart disease, insomnia, depression, and digestive problems are just a few stress-related health problems mentioned on The Mayo Clinic website. The Minnesota-based nonprofit is considered a worldwide leader in medical care, research and education, and its section of resources for stress management emphasize time management as “a primary means to a less stressful life.”

Of course, our life in the digital age means calendars come in more than just paper form. Maybe your workplace already has you trained in the use of online calendars. But if not, there are plenty of good ones available online, and they don’t cost anything to use.

Stacy Fisher, who curates the “Freebies” content for About.com, provides her “Top 5 Free Online Calendars.” All of these give you the capability to create multiple calendars, so you can track work, personal, and family appointments as needed. Enable the sharing feature with colleagues who need to know where you might be at a given time, so you’ll know when and where you’re supposed to pick up your kids!

These online calendars also include reminder systems that can be set in minutes, hours, or even days in advance for those who are, shall we say, less than attentive to the clock. A reminder that a meeting is taking place 10 minutes from now will help wrap up the client call you’re on; while a reminder that your sales report is due on Monday means it’s time to stop procrastinating and start tabulating.

Now, the really great thing about these online calendars is how you can sync it up with your smartphone. Smartphones have operating systems just like a computer, and many have software built-in that automatically makes the link between your work or home computer so you don’t have to go back and reenter all those contact names, numbers, and emails. Smartphones even pull your reminders over from your online calendar, so you can leave the laptop behind if you want to travel light.

Is there still a place for paper calendars? Most definitely. Even the most avid technophiles like Suzanne Kantra of Techlicious acknowledge the need for posting a central calendar in high-traffic areas to make sure everyone is in the know. Conventional wisdom also says that the act of writing things down helps you remember better, and there is some research that backs up this notion.

Find what works best for you, but using any calendar system is better than feeling like the world is about to come crashing down.

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Chris Lenois is a marketing consultant and professional journalist who has contributed articles to many newspapers and publications, including the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Scat Magazine, and Wired.

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