Use Your Planner’s Calendar and Put Pockets in Place to Increase Your Productivity

Do you have a planner? Does it include a calendar, i.e., both daily and weekly (or monthly)? Although most people think that a calendar is the heart of a planner, I still had to ask the question.

Now, if you don’t have a planner, go get one and be sure it has all four of these components:

Daily calendar
Weekly/Monthly calendar
To-do list (both current and future)
Notes section

There are physical (paper) planners of every type that will fulfill this list and there are electronic ones for your computer, your phone, or whatever you use. The idea, though, is you have to USE it or it is not worth having and is basically a waste.

I am going to assume that you have your planner and now will give you some quick ideas that may seem simple, but they take commitment to implement. However, at the same time, they will give you enormous ROI, that is, Return on Investment and will increase your productivity many times over (because you’ll be building in pockets, i.e., the difference between calm and crazed):

Write in every appointment you have on your monthly calendar first.
Record those appointments also on your daily calendar if you are within a week of the appointment. Otherwise, just leave them on the monthly calendar until the date is closer since we all know how things can change. There’s no sense to be writing, erasing, deleting, or whatever more times than is necessary.
Put “pockets” around your appointments. Here’s what I mean by that:

Regardless of whether your appointment is in your office and people are coming to you or if you are traveling across town or across campus or you are going to the doctor or going to see a client….it doesn’t matter. Put some cushion, buffer, padding, protected space (pockets) on both sides of that appointment. I can’t tell you an exact amount – but here are some guidelines.

a. For appointments that are in your office, create at LEAST a ten minute pocket on either side. You want to be able to be ready for the appointment and that means closing out whatever you were working on and getting out the necessary notes and materials that will be needed. Plus, you may need to get yourself in the right frame of mind so you can focus. At the end of an appointment, you need 10 minutes (or more) to take care of what just transpired, put things away, delegate, do whatever needs to be done…and then transition into your next activity.

b. For appointments that are across campus or across town, put in a travel pocket. As far as I know, none of you is like the character in Bewitched who could just twinkle her nose and transport herself somewhere else. You actually have to walk, drive, ride, or otherwise ambulate yourself. Not only do you need to block the time for travel but also allow yourself an additional ten minutes BOTH WAYS – and this is your pocket. Leaving ten minutes before you think you SHOULD leave allows time for traffic, seeing people, etc.

c. For appointments that involve projects of some time, build in a pocket to actually DO THE WORK that is generated due to the appointment. When you set an appointment like this, immediately look at your planner and schedule the appropriate work time to accompany the appointment or meeting. Get into that habit.

As I said, these seem simple…but their impact will change your whole sense of yourself as a productive professional. And, it will changes others’ perceptions of you as well. Sounds like a winning idea to me!!

If you would like to receive a weekly suggestion on creating time, energy, and life pockets (i.e., the difference between being calm and crazed), just go to and you’ll see a place to sign up.

If you’d like to access additional resources to support your quest for productivity, feel free to take a look here:


(c) 2010 Meggin McIntosh, Ph.D. | The Ph.D. of Productivity(tm)

Through her company, Emphasis on Excellence, Inc. Meggin serves those who want to know, feel, dream, and do…more…and who want to do so with consciousness, clarity, and conviction. It’s great fun and very rewarding!