As summer approaches I find myself needing a change in my usual routine. The weather is warmer, school is out (why, after being out of school for over 5 years, do I feel this still affects me, I have no idea) and fun summer activities beckon. Its easy to allow these things to overtake our day and seriously affect our productivity, but it does not have to be that way — there is time for it all IF you will learn to use your calendar!

Despite the vast technology available I have found that, for me, a paper calendar still works best when trying to work through my schedule. I use a Day Minder that displays the 7 days of each week across the span of two pages. Each day is broken down into half-hour blocks of time from 7am until 8pm. Across the bottom is room for any important notes that need tending to throughout the week.

Here are some tips for using your calendar effectively, and ensuring you get the most out of these warm summer days!

1. Think it Through
I use a scratch piece of paper to list out all of the things I need to do each day or week. I do this to ensure I do not forget anything when I go to block out the time on my calendar! Begin with things you have no control over (job, kids activities, etc) and work your way through each of your tasks and responsibilities.  Be sure to make note on each task whether it is a daily, weekly or monthly responsibility.

2. Don’t forget the fun stuff!
If you don’t schedule time for summer fun, it’s easy to skirt our other responsibilities to make time for it. Be sure to have some free time blocked off to enjoy the warm sunny weather.

3. Live By Your Calendar
It sounds kind of harsh, but by making your calendar a part of your daily life your days will be much more structured and will allow for more free time. People often avoid calendars because they feel that a schedule ties them down too much, but in reality it can be the opposite. A schedule keeps you focused, productive and efficient.

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Give Something Up
Wake up an hour early or get rid of an hour of TV each night. By making more time for productive activities in the early morning and late-night hours you open up more free time during the day to spend doing the things you enjoy. For example, most of my work is done on the computer and can be completed at any time — by getting up and finishing it early, I give myself the afternoon to go to the pool or sit on the porch and read a good book.

5. BLOCK Your Time
Each day when you make your To-Do list make note of any items that take place outside of the home. Make note of each location and run your errands in a single block of time to make your errand running more efficient!

I hope these tips help make your 2012 summer the best one yet!

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