Starting From Scratch: Resetting the Calendar

Sep 12, 2021

Does anyone else feel like they are starting their calendars from scratch again? It is sort of like when I recently returned home from a remote-work vacation, and my refrigerator was legitimately empty.

Maia’s empty-ish fridge, with the exception of olives, yogurt, and beer.

You would have to hang out at my house for a good bit to know what a big deal this is, but my fridge (and perhaps my calendar?!) are usually full to the brim, packed with leftovers, overnight oats, and many odds and ends. Rebuilding your refrigerator from scratch – and your calendar – is a good exercise in thinking about what you actually WANT to be in there. Here’s where I started.

Step 1: Consider your Single Source of Truth. For me, that is my Outlook calendar. It is my ultimate one-stop-shop. Everything must be in there or it quite literally doesn’t exist. That said, my Outlook calendar pulls from a few other sources. There is one Google calendar I share with my partner. And another one I share with my co-parent and kids. And then there is a wall calendar for our family that shows the big picture. And my beloved dry erase annual calendar that is posted in my office. But Outlook holds it ALL.

The Household Calendar for my kids—Not MY Single Source of truth, but they like to see it!

Step 2: Consolidate your Calendar Babies. Yup, it’s back-to-school time (well, for me here in the mid-Atlantic. I know my southern friends have been in school for almost a month now!). My own kids are in different schools for the first time in several years. Calendar babies abound! Middle school newsletters with key dates! An elementary school online calendar! Baseball schedule! Softball stuff! Basically, I take any single calendar anyone ever sends me, and in it goes to Outlook!

Calendar Baby Just Appeared in My Inbox!

Step 3: Place your Priorities. What are your fall priorities? Mine are getting one book to press, getting another one drafted, overhauling The Together Group website, and continuing to teach at high quality and high volume. To keep these front and center, I add them as repeating events in my calendar. On the personal side, my Together Triathlon itch is back, The Together Troop Leader is standing at attention, and time with my partner is blocked off.

Time Blocked off for Writing

Step 4: Conduct a Seasonal Scheduling Blitz. So, this is everything from cleaning the gutters to getting one kid to the optometrist, from answering Halloween costume questions to scheduling holiday card photo shoots and servicing the furnace and flu shots. Calls made, texts sent, and boom – appointments placed into the calendar. These are the things that I generally either miss or wake me up at night, so I like to do a Seasonal Scheduling blitz all at once. This is also the time of year I start – gasp – thinking about holiday planning because with a dual-religion, half-international, big huge blended family, let’s just say, things get complicated REAL fast.

Step 5: Consider what to leave out. We are all thinking about social events and travel in different ways right now. My book club pushes my reading experiments, so we reactivated and are back on to once a month. My swim mom meetup no longer feels quite as important, so I’m not actively building that back in. My friend circle remains small by choice, though I had a 7-couple outdoor birthday party at a local farm brewery!

For fun, scenes of my 44th Birthday Celebration

Step 6: Pressure Test the Calendar. Take a look at that calendar and check to make sure it has space for emergencies (I’m assuming my kids will be quarantined at some point), plenty of buffers or transitional time (for example, I know I cannot jump immediately into phone calls after teaching a huge class) and things that bring you joy (I just purchased tickets to a few concerts that I hope will happen and signed up for outdoor tennis lessons!).

If only I were this disciplined about restocking my refrigerator! How are you approaching a calendar reset?