If I was to ask you what you used a calendar for, how many of you would say “to remind myself of something“, and then stop? Probably quite a lot of you because that is what traditionally a calendar has only been used for — reminders about birthdays, social events, work shifts, etc.
But since the Internet has rocketed into outer space, the calendar has undergone a complete transformation, with loads of features, including synchronization to other platforms. True, we are still using them for reminding us of things, but there are so many other uses for a calendar, now that it has gone digital.
The leading contender in digital calendars is Google Calendar, which comes free with every Google account. I highly recommend you use it because it has so many unique possibilities, as a visual motivational tool. Here are 8 ideas.
Putting reminders on the calendar can be a pretty powerful motivational tool in itself. Now, I’m not talking about “get nose hair pulled, Friday 3pm”. Rather, I am more thinking about reminding yourself about the fantastic things you are going to treat yourself to, if you do something undesirable first.
Examples? Well, how about putting an entry on Saturday or Sunday saying something like “allow myself to eat LOTS of chocolate!!“. Then for the preceding week, lay out on each day on the calendar, a very strict diet and exercise regimen. Then every time you feel yourself faltering and looking at the cookie jar, just look at the calendar and see that goal of lots of chocolate on the weekend, that you will deny yourself if you blow the diet during the week.
Trust me, the “If-Then” motivational logic works. When I did it, I lost almost 2kg that week (and put a bit back on due to the chocolate on the weekend). You just have to visually see yourself getting closer and closer to that big treat, and suddenly something in you tells you not to blow it.
Or put into the calendar all your planned holidays and day trips. Then you will have something enjoyable to work towards. Whenever your work or some other task feels insurmountable, seeing that upcoming trip to Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Mansion on the calendar works wonders.
Motivating YourSelf Using Jerry Seinfeld’s Chain Method
I had to look this one up when my editor suggested it, because I am not really that much into Seinfeld. So I had no idea of what his “chain method” was. Now that I know, it’s quite a good technique. It relies on psychology and competitiveness, two factors which are good for motivational purposes.
It goes like this — decide what it is that you need to do. When you have done it for that day, put a big red X on that day. If you continue doing this every day, then you will start to make a chain of X’s. The purpose now is not to break that chain. You must keep the habit streak going, and you can only do so by completing whatever task you have to do.
How can you do that on Google Calendar?
Well there are two ways. First, you can print out Google Calendar in “month” view and do it with a big marker pen. That would be the old school method. To print out the calendar, just go to the top right of the calendar page, drop down the “More” menu, and choose “Print“.
But if you want to save paper and go all digital, then just create a new event for each day you want to cross off, and choose “all day“. To do it faster, switch on keyboard shortcuts in your calendar settings, and when you want to make a new event, press “C”. In the event description box, put in something like “DONE!” and make sure it has its own unique colour.
Using Colors To Denote Urgency
Since we’ve just touched on the subject of colors, it is worth expanding on this topic for a moment. All throughout our lives, we have been taught that certain colors mean danger or urgency, such as red (the lights at a road crossing are a good example of this). The infamous Homeland Security terror alert level uses colors to tell us if we are safe or not.
So you can apply the same principle to your Google Calendar. Set up your own color-coded levels, from “urgent” right down to “loads of time, don’t worry about it”. Then give each of your tasks its own color, depending on its priority. Are you a writer and have a deadline looming? Maybe you need to mark that one as red then. Need to hang the picture up on the living room wall? That can wait a while. Maybe give that one a light yellow, or white.
Visually seeing what is urgent and what isn’t, judging by colors on your calendar, can be a powerful reminder of what really needs to get done.
Recording Weight Loss
If you are on a diet, then recording your progress is definitely worth doing, and where better to do it than on a calendar? Some of the color codes can be applied here — have a certain color for weight gain and a certain color for weight loss. So you can see at an instant whether more is going on, or more is coming off.
Make a new all-day event (press C on your keyboard again), and put your new weight in the event field. Give it the appropriate color, and suddenly it’s “Holy Fat-busting, Batman!”
Motivating Yourself To Do Housework
This is something which instantly sucks the energy out of me, as soon as I think about it. So I conveniently forget about the dirty dishes in the sink, and the vacuuming which needs to be done. Meanwhile, the rats are making themselves a sandwich and sitting down to watch TV. So putting housework tasks into your calendar can be a real “in your face” reminder to get it done.
Melanie Pinola at Lifehacker has set up a really neat housework add-on for Google Calendar. Just scroll part of the way down that page to get the iCal, XML, and HTML plugins. Clicking the appropriate link will automatically populate your calendar with the tasks. You will have to customize it though, according to your needs.
Plan Your Content If You Are A Writer
If you are a serious writer, you will know that writing every day is a must if you are going to develop any kind of a work ethic. Plus, if you are a freelance writer, the number one rule is “time is money”, so it pays to plan out what assignments you will do when. These are two good reasons why it is absolutely essential that you use Google Calendar to plan out your content.
By clearly laying out your working week on your calendar, it will give you more motivation. Firstly you can color-code the assignments according to urgency, and secondly it gives your week a sense of organization, seeing it all laid out nice and neat.
You can see at a glance when you have spare time, so you can go round movie studios flogging the rights to your next book.
Use Google Calendar’s Background Image As A Motivational Theme
I am not a huge fan of this one, because I feel that the background images can make it difficult to read the calendar. However, I can see how it would motivate some people to do a task, so it would be remiss of me not to mention it.
First you need to enable the option in the “Labs” section of Google Calendar, and then after saving that, go to the “General” section of your settings. Scroll right down to the bottom and you will now see an option to upload your image. Save and you will now see your new calendar.
Here is the calendar with my dog in the background. Now when I am doing work, and I wonder why I bother, I can look at him on the calendar, and think “to put a roof over that adorable animal’s head, and feed him”.
Posting Motivational Quotes via IFTTT
Are you the kind of person who is motivated and inspired by quotes such as “eagles may soar, but weasels don’t get sucked into jet engines”? Then why not use Google Calendar to give yourself a daily dose of “quoteyness?” (just made that word up).
For this, you can turn to the friendly automator called IFTTT (If This, Then That). We have seen how you can combine IFTTT with Google Calendar. For motivational quotes, you can use the IFTTT motivational quote recipe, and if necessary, you can change the quotes website in the RSS feed section. Or this recipe that uses quotes from Goodreads. Or failing all that, create your own IFTTT recipe.
Don’t forget that you can create (and share) multiple Google Calendars for specific areas of your life. Use imported information in the calendars and make your days and dates more interesting.
How Does Google Calendar Help You Daily?
There are so many other uses for Google Calendar that we couldn’t possibly fit into the one article. So I will turn it over to you now. Do you know of another visually motivating method that Google Calendar could do for you? Please let us know in the comments below what you think, and if you tried the above suggestions.
Image Credits: Woman shows her weight loss – Shutterstock