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In this on-demand masterclass, Eric will guide you through:

1. How to pick a single, impactful goal

2. Create an actionable plan

3. Build the habits and skills you need to succeed

With real-life examples, practical tools, and guaranteed progress for committed individuals, this session is your first step towards a more organized life.

How to optimize your digital calendar: build your backup brain (part 2)

Do you find yourself grappling with forgetfulness, missed tasks, and surprise meetings?


Welcome back to the second installment of "Building Your Backup Brain." If you missed part 1 on The Reminders App, catch up here.


As a quick recap, creating your backup brain consists of these three simple tools: 

  • Reminders App

  • Digital Calendar

  • Master Task List


In the second of this three-part series, we’ll dive into how to optimize your digital calendar and why it’ll help you bid farewell to the “always late” label. 


Let's dive in. 


My Story

I used to pride myself on my timeliness – that is before I decided to uproot my life to live in Nicaragua for six months after graduating college. In Nica, being late is the norm and the expectation. 


With my days filled with surf and relaxation, I fully embraced the “late is better than never” concept and soon struggled to shake this mindset off after returning to the US. 


In this detour of punctuality, everything suffered. Work, appointments, social outings – the forgetfulness seemed to absorb my core identity and left me with a feeling of self-doubt and shame at the end of every day.   


My only fallback was my hand-written calendar, but one skipped calendar check in the morning led to a day filled with stress and unease. 


Enter Google Calendar – my lifesaver and tool #2 in your Backup Brain. 


Quick pause – remember the Reminders App? If not, let’s back up to the first article in this three-part series. 


The Reminders App and Google Calendar work together seamlessly, aiding time management, strengthening memory, and preserving a slice of calm that you may be looking for in your everyday life. 


While I lean towards these integrated apps, everyone has their preference. The key here is having a digital calendar built into your Backup Brain toolbox. 


What does a digital calendar do? 

A digital calendar provides a visual representation of your day and can remind you of events in advance, eliminating the chances of forgetting about upcoming birthdays, appointments, bills, and other important events. 


Your digital calendar should sync with your devices (computer and phone) and allow you to check, be reminded of, and add events no matter where I am. 


While I am a G-suite fan, Apple Calendar and Outlook Calendar are also free and, from my experience and research, outperform paid options.


Which digital calendar is your favorite?

  • Google Calendar

  • Apple Calendar

  • Outlook Calendar

  • Other


How do I set up a digital calendar?


Use One Calendar

Keeping all of your events in one place will help you stay organized and create an easy-to-follow visual of your day, weeks, and months.


Make it Easy to Find

Bookmark it on your computer and download it on your phone and/or tablet.


Turn on Notifications

Ensure you receive an audible and visual notification in advance of every event.


Set Your Recurring Events

Grab a piece of paper and brainstorm a list of recurring events in your life along with the date and time. After brainstorming, add each to your calendar. Examples include:


  • birthdays

  • weekly meetings

  • your child’s and/or partner's commitments

  • exercise classes

  • bookclub meetings

Set Notifications

For recurring events, consider how much time you need to prepare and schedule a notification.


Set notifications to go off 5-15 minutes before regularly scheduled events and 24 hours in advance for rare, unique, or monthly events.


Ensure notifications go off on your phone, watch, computer, tablet, etc., by testing it out.


Color Code Your Calendar

On Google Calendar, create two calendars for two different aspects of your life: work and personal.


For me, work events are in green, and personal events are in blue. When you book a meeting on your work calendar, it automatically appears in green, saving you the time of changing the color.


How do I optimize my digital calendar?


Add Events Immediately After Scheduling

Commit to this rule. When something prevents you from adding to your calendar, use the Reminders App to remind you to add the event at a more convenient time or place. Siri is a huge help with this.


Create Routines

According to one study, developing routines around checking your calendar can improve physical and mental health.


Get in the habit of checking your calendar at night and in the morning.


Additionally, check and update it on Sunday evenings for the upcoming week and at the end of each month. To help build this habit, use the first part of your Backup Brain and set recurring reminders


Time Blocking and Work Blocks

Block off specific times on your calendar for specific tasks. This might include time to clean your home, respond to emails, or, in my case, write a weekly blog.


Imposing deadlines works because it gives you a short amount of time to complete a given task and ensures you create time to complete it.


Schedule Downtime

When you see empty spaces in your calendar, block off that time for yourself! Maybe it is your chance to read, practice an instrument, or go for a walk.


Make Sure to Leave White Space

Things take longer than we expect, and unexpected events come up in life. Having white space on your calendar will provide you with wiggle room and reduce the possibility of future stress.


white male with long, dark hair, standing in front of a green background, wearing a black jacket

Conclusion

Using a digital calendar as your day-to-day planner, helps you streamline events and makes them easily accessible across devices. Setting up your digital calendar effectively, from consolidating events in one space to color-coding for visual clarity is key. Immediate event scheduling and recurring reminders will also keep you on track.


Effective calendar usage, marked by routines, time blocking, and scheduled downtime, transforms a tool into a lifestyle enhancer. As we leave white spaces for life's surprises, we create a flexible framework for a stress-free existence.


Stay Engaged


About the author

Eric Kaufmann, M.Ed is a Professional Educational Therapist and Certified Executive Function Coach. He is the Co-founder of UpSkill Specialists, an online adult executive function coaching company designed to guide adults in overcoming disorganization, procrastination, and productivity roadblocks so they can unlock their potential. Eric is also the founder of Elevate Learning Solutions, an Educational Therapy practice located in San Clemente, CA, that guides students with neurological differences toward becoming independent and confident students and self-leaders.

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Upskill Specialists was founded when two former special education teachers turned executive function coaches decided that adults need tools and coaching to improve their workplace skills and feel confident and empowered. Our mission is to ensure every adult with EF challenges has access to high-quality coaching services. 

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