Maintain Your Sanity: Use a Calendar Program
When I started this blog (The Intersection), the idea was originally to conduct a series of interviews with people who were successfully navigating that treacherous intersection of the creative life, the work life, and the family life. I wanted to hear what these people had to say because I felt like my own life was so chaotic. But I never stopped to think about the fact that I might have something to say about the topic myself. I was working two jobs while trying to finish a novel and while trying my best to maintain some semblance of a normal family life. And I was getting through it somehow, even if it was by the skin of my clichés.
So, what's the secret? Well, I think there are a number of things that an artist can do to preserve his or her sanity when placed in this unenviable position. I'm going to try and cover a few practical suggestions in a series that I'll call "Maintain Your Sanity."
My first tip: use a calendaring program on your computer to organize your life. Mac OS X has had a program called iCal built right into it for quite a while now, and Microsoft finally did right by their customers when they included calendar app in Vista (you had to buy Outlook to get similar functionality in previous versions of Windows). Google Calendar is another great option. But really, whatever program you do use, the point is to use one and to use it frequently. One of the ways in which I've kept my sanity over the course of my first semester as an adjunct English instructor is by keeping calendars for each aspect of my life.
The other key is to make sure that you can view and update your calendars wherever you are. Plaxo is a great tool for doing just that. I use Plaxo to sync the calendars on my work laptop with a Plaxo calendar on the Web and with the iCal calendar on my Mac at home. If I make a change in once place, it's almost instantaneously updated everywhere else. You can also use Plaxo to sync contacts between Outlook, Outlook Express, Thunderbird, Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and just about every other major e-mail program out there. It's an amazing product, and of course the best part is that it's free.
When you're juggling as many things as most artists are on a daily basis, it's easy to lose track of where you're supposed to be, what you're supposed to be doing, and who you're supposed to be doing it with. Keeping organized with a calendar application is one way in which you can maintain your sanity.