Send Me an Invite

For a very long time, I resisted the electronic calendar. I would be in meetings, and as others were adding meeting times and notes on their various electronics, I would reach into my bag and take out my three-ring planner, using my favorite blue pen to write in an appointment or meeting.

But digging my feet in and demanding things stay the same began making more work for me. I would get a calendar invite in my email and then have to open it and copy it to my planner. I realized that it wasn’t efficient and decided it was time to change.

And as I used an electronic calendar, I grew to like it — and then began to love it. All of my work conference calls, meetings and deadlines went into the calendar. Everything related to work was in one place; clean and without any scribbled-out blue pen. I would open the app and smile with satisfaction at the organization.

Then, a few months ago, in one enormously frustrating weekend, I was responsible for a whole bunch of family scheduling mistakes. First, I was sitting with my family at Saturday lunch when my older daughter looked at her watch and said, “I think we should be at Emma’s swim class right now.” She was right. It didn’t stop me from eating the spinach artichoke dip I had just scooped from the bowl, but she was right. Then we were playing Skip-Bo in the living room when my husband casually said, “Didn’t you say there was a birthday party this weekend? When is it?” I looked up at the clock. “Three hours ago,” I replied, as I drew cards from the deck. And then I had the dreaded Monday morning realization that we hadn’t picked up the bag of carrots we were supposed to bring to Ella’s school for the Stone Soup celebration.

I was frustrated and mad and feeling guilty. Up until that point, the calendar was for work and the occasional dentist or doctor’s appointment, but could it do even more? I decided to find out.

Since then, I have begun using the calendar for everything and turning all things into a new event. Lists for the grocery store? Embedded in the notes for shopping trips scheduled for Saturday. Family birthdays? Added, with reminders to send cards a few days before. A dry-cleaning order ready for pickup on Tuesday? Entered. Needing to pick up snacks for the girls’ school? Added, with reminders one and two days before. Done.

Now that the calendar reliance has taken over, I’m quite sure that if my phone was lost, I would wake up and sit in bed blinking and looking around aimlessly, unsure of what to do next.

Author: Alyssa Forcehimes, PhD

An expert in behavior change, substance use disorders and empathic communication, Dr. Alyssa Forcehimes serves as President of The Change Companies® and Train for Change Inc.® She lives in Arizona with her husband and two daughters.