How to Plan and Carry Out a Manageable Schedule

Young woman writing on calendar

28 Feb 2023 | ~4:13 Engagement Time


Roz Kalb , Psychologist


Deborah Miller , Clinical Social Worker


Calendars come in all shapes and sizes, as well as paper electronic versions. What they all have in common is this – their usefulness depends on how you and your calendar interact. Sounds silly, perhaps, but your calendar can’t help you unless you enter the information you need, keep it handy, and look at it. In addition to helping you keep track of your appointments and activities, your calendar can also give you helpful feedback if you let it. Let’s look at strategies that can help you use your calendar effectively.

Reminders and Alerts

Your calendar can list all your commitments and give you reminders of upcoming events. An electronic calendar can be set to give you alerts – time of appointment, time to start getting ready, and time to leave the house in order to arrive on time. Cognitive challenges and other MS symptoms can make it difficult for people to recognize how long it takes to get ready – so having these types of reminders can help ensure that you start getting ready in plenty of time. Calendar alerts can also remind you when to take your medications. Paper calendars can offer the same reminders if you jot them down and look at them


Sometimes people need help remembering to look at the calendar, or even to write things down in the first place.

  • To be useful, your calendar has to be easy to use and easy to see – which means it can’t sit in a drawer or a purse or a glove compartment. “I forget to look at my calendar” is a pretty common challenge for anyone dealing with memory challenges. So, choose the most convenient spot, make your calendar a very bright color, and practice looking at it several times a day until it becomes a habit.
  • If your days are filled with commitments that all start to blur together, color code them. Perhaps your medication times are always in green, doctor appointments are always in blue, and social commitments are always in red. And perhaps you even schedule in rest breaks in purple!

Getting In Sync

If you need to keep more than one calendar, take time each week to make sure they are synchronized. When planning and remembering are challenging, it’s important that you’re not giving yourself conflicting information!

Family members and friends can be very helpful with this. A shared calendar in the kitchen, for example, can make it possible for everyone in the household to keep track of activities. A family meeting at the beginning of the week to ensure that everyone’s important commitments have been added to the calendar is very helpful, particularly when memory challenges lead to repetitive questions about who is doing what, where, and when.

Creating Your Schedule

Your calendar can also help you to schedule wisely, taking into account your level of fatigue and other symptoms. As an experiment, take a look at your schedule for last week.

  • Did you remember all your appointments and commitments?
  • Were you able to get there on time?
  • Did you over- or under-estimate the time it would take you to finish a task?
  • Were all your medications taken at the right times?
  • Did you plan the right number of activities in a day or did you overestimate your energy level?
  • Did a really busy day require a day or two of rest and did you plan for that?

This kind of detective work can help you plan more realistically in future weeks. Based on last week,

  • Do you need to plan your days differently?
  • Include more rest breaks?
  • Plan fewer activities?
  • Schedule a restful day before and/or after each busy day?

Your calendar can be one of the most useful tools in your toolbox. If you would like some guidance on how to set up the best calendar for yourself, consider talking with an occupational therapist or speech-language pathologist. They can help you identify your scheduling needs and work through any cognitive challenges that may be making it difficult for you to use your calendar effectively.