Digital Organization: Let the calendar do the remembering...
Calendars are useful… except when the synchronisation fails! Although I like the idea of the day above.
Charities, organisations, and building management teams are often run by volunteers. But even if you are a paid member of staff, you will often be dealing with immediate and so may not be concentrating on the background work; maintenance of the files or the building which needs to be fitted in around other, more immediate, tasks. It can be hard to ensure nothing slips through the organisational net.
Using a calendar as a planning tool
One way to avoid this happening is to use a calendar for your reminders.
Using a generic email account such as clerk@yourdomain or office@yourdomain will ensure that reminders always go to the role holder. Most email accounts come with a calendar, which can be shared with others and integrated into other computer-based email management systems.
What to add?
Create a list of regular to-dos, enter them onto your calendar, and (if digital) have a reminder emailed to you. Not only for the task “clear gutters”, but for the preparation – “get quote”, “tell Premises clearing gutters is due”, “book window cleaner for gutters”.
If you use a paper calendar you will need to remember to look at the calendar to be reminded. Be sure to store the “next xxx date” on a piece of paper added into the back.
You can add in one-off tasks as well, of course. If you’ve just agreed to write a report or call someone once they’re back off holiday, add that to the calendar with a reminder. However, the repeating function means you don’t have to wonder when the next PA Testing or roof inspection is due. A quick search and the calendar will tell you, even if that is a couple of years in the future.
If the tasks don’t repeat on a regular basis, instead add an event in the calendar to act as a reminder for x months/years from now to check that an inspection has been done, contact that company that said they should come back in five years’ time, book an employment review as the end of their 26-month contract is coming to an end…. or whatever else you want to do.
Searching for more
If you have added in what’s on your current to do list but are worried that you may have forgotten something…
- Read back through minutes, looking for comments and action points.
- Talk to others, and add in any tasks, reminders, or notes as they’re mentioned. If you share the email account and calendar, ask your colleagues to add things as well.
- Look for the date of meetings (and then book in the preparation time required well before that meeting).
- Look at the role or job descriptions associated with your role and consider if anything there needs to be added to the calendar. Are there any tasks you would benefit from a reminder of?
Sharing the work and the knowledge
If you use the calendar attached to the generic email (and hopefully shared booking calendar), that forward planning isn’t lost when the role passes to the next holder.
You can create additional calendars within your calendar system (do an internet search on “creating an additional calendar + your calendar system” for instructions) so you could have one calendar for meetings and another for “building maintenance” or “charity admin”. Use colour coding to make it easy to tell them apart.
Share your calendars, so other people can see those reminders as well. This sharing enables you to spread out tasks and responsibilities. Or at least the awareness that these tasks are being dealt with by you.
Creating a Record
When work is done, add a note on the date to create a record.
Create a set of standard phrases or initials, such as MBSC, then keep that key handy and ensure anything you want to find later has those added to the event or reminder.
Then when you search within the calendar for “XAMTrustees”, “YourBuilding-QQInspection”, or whatever other phrase you’ve decided would be helpful, you’ll have a complete record and can print off the results.
This gives an easy report for records – especially useful for Annual or Quinquennial reports.
Once a year’s worth of reminders/work has been completed, why not print off a copy of those results, to go in the front of the Minutes book as a visual reminder of the work that will be coming up? You can then review them and decide if anything needs to be added to your regular review/reminders schedule.
We supply free to use spreadsheets which can be a place to put an annual record, and you can add a note of where to find files, documents, photos, etc.
- What methods do you use to spread out the work, and ensure regular maintenance jobs aren’t forgotten?