I just hit that point where I feel like 2024 is staring me directly in the face and warning, “I’m coming for you, Maia. As you try to return from the December holidays rejuvenated and rested, I’m going to take you by surprise.” Oh, wait, you don’t have a Calendar Voice in your brain? Is that just me?! Well, in the interest of both calendar strategy and efficiency, let’s look at a few things we can do now to make 2024 start – and go on to run – smoothly!
Gretchen Rubin recently posted a Clear the Decks Bingo board, and taking a page from her book, I want to share our Planning Bingo board! Read below for descriptions and then download our printable and shade off as you prepare for 2024!
- Mark the no-school days or weird weeks. There are several nationally recognized days (MLK Holiday, President’s Day, etc.) coming right up in January and February, but over here we also have some marking period days, a few half-days, and some big field trips. Perhaps your organization or district has some other funky scheduling things happening? In the calendar they go!
- Consolidate any calendar babies. For me, this involves checking in on Dr. Together’s travel schedule and synching it with mine. There are also a few clubs and activities our kids are involved in that start up in January.I’m looking at you, yearbook club meetings and winter soccer schedules emailed my direction.
- Make doctor’s appointments for yourself and/or your family. Some things like the dentist get scheduled right after the previous appointments, but let’s get our mammograms, pediatrician visits, colonoscopies (that is correct, my age is showing), dermatology appointments, and all other necessary routine visits scheduled. Bonus — if you call early enough, you can usually get those early morning or later afternoon spots.
- Block off vacation time. For those of you in non-school jobs, pick that PTO time and take it. Maybe you are a two-weeks-off disconnect person, or maybe you are like me and prefer several long weekends spread out over the months. Whatever your preference, if you plan it early, it makes it easier to communicate with colleagues, reschedule meetings, and actually disconnect.
- Schedule any special events. Is there anything you want to plan – for work OR fun? In the Together Household we got the band booked for the annual St. Paddy’s day party, and a few kids’ birthday party times blocked off. My sister and I also did some collaboration on meeting up in Maine for our annual Cousin Camp in July.
- Build in buffer times and days. See any intense time periods? Maybe a long stretch of work travel? Or a busy event or activity that has you running? Or a few meetings that take tons of prep and follow up? I spotted the 8th grade dance I’m in charge of, and I built in a day-of buffer for last minute logistics.
- Section off work time for priorities and special projects. Similar to the above, is there any actual work time that needs to be held as sacred now? Maybe you are in grad school working on your dissertation and need some writing or research time? Or there is a huge board meeting that you need a lot of time to prepare for? Or it is time for performance evaluations and you need longer meetings with your team? Get those calendar blocks in now!
- Evaluate all current standing meetings. What is working? What could be shortened? What could be added? This is one of my favorites. Forgive my soapbox, but recurring meetings should deeply align with our priorities. Maybe you have an hour once per week with a colleague that could be 30 minutes per week at certain times of the year? Perhaps you have a colleague you message with all day long, and you could meet for 10 minutes per day instead?
- Deeply look at January – March. Prime time to build a Priority Plan! Anything you can get ahead on now? Items to delegate or communicate? Retreats to prep for? I saw two work trips (New York City and Houston) coming up right in mid-January, and my team and I decided to get all the materials prepped before we leave for the December holiday!
Of course, of course, you could always just use the list above as a checklist to prep your calendar for 2024. But a gamified Bingo Board is so much more fun!
Let us know in the comments which of these calendar moves will most help you plan ahead for 2024!