I just received my 2011 date book in the mail. I’m one of those old-fashioned people who still use a paper calendar. I carry it with me everywhere and I feel as if it is ‘my life.’ I do worry about my archaic scheduling method at times since it can’t be backed up. What would happen if I lost it?

But, this isn’t about worries or problems. This is about the joy that I experienced as I opened the package containing the sour-apple-colored, faux-leather, week-at-a-glance diary. Around August of each year, I begin to schedule events and activities for the following year. This process begins very haphazardly – with notes in the margins of late December, to remind me to record the future year’s already scheduled items. As September approaches, I know it’s time to take the leap and order the next year. Then I wait for the new calendar to arrive.

The sight of the blank year ahead excites me. For me, it represents a year of possibilities that I’ll create –with my family, friends, clients, colleagues and the world. I’m always amazed how quickly the white space fills and my weeks and days become full and sometimes more full than I would prefer them to be. It also reminds me that I have a choice as to what I schedule, and what I choose to do with my time, energy and attention.

As 2011 approaches and I transition over to my new calendar, I want to keep the following in mind:

• White space’ is my friend. The less time I have scheduled, the more opportunities I have for creativity, new and interesting projects, and self-care. This will allow me to be more effective, efficient and energized when I am scheduled with clients and for the other meetings and appointments that make up my work and life.

• I control my calendar. Just because someone wants to meet with me, it doesn’t mean that I must meet with him or her. Lunch with a long-lost friend, business brainstorming with a colleague, and even client requests can be scheduled based on my needs and priorities. I must keep practicing “No,” “Not now” and “That doesn’t work but this does.”

• Schedule what is important. In teaching people how to budget and save, financial planners use the term ‘pay yourself first.’ This means put aside money out of each paycheck that goes for savings or important purchases/investments before you begin your budgeting so your starting point includes savings and investments. I will apply this approach to those important uses of my time including exercise, business development and professional writing – three of my important focus areas for now and the year ahead.

• Know what is important. Before I can schedule what is important, I need to be clear on what matters most to me – for the day, week, year, and beyond. What is important to others around me does not necessarily mean it’s important to me. I may even need to take time out to evaluate (and re-evaluate) what is important at any time. It will change as I change.

Now, I’m off with my favorite pen to start crafting my year ahead!

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© 2010 Julie Cohen, www.JulieCohenCoaching.com
Julie Cohen, PCC, is a career coach. She helps her clients clarify and achieve their professional and personal goals including greater career satisfaction, work-life balance, leadership development and personal growth. Julie is also the author of Your Work, Your Life… Your Way: 7 Keys to Work-Life Balance. For questions, comments or to discuss this article, Julie can be reached by visiting http://www.juliecohencoaching.com.

Author's Bio: 

Julie Cohen, PCC, is a Career Coach, Speaker and the Author of Your Work, Your Life...Your Way: 7 Keys to Work-Life Balance. She helps her clients and audiences achieve greater career and work-life satisfaction. For more information on Julie's book, coaching and speaking services, visit http://www.7KeysToWorkLifeBalance.com/book. To join the 7 Keys Community and participate in work-life balance discussions, become a fan at: http://www.facebook.com/7keys