Raise your hand if you hate your calendar.
Me too (or at least I used to).
For a long time, I hated my calendar because I thought rules were lame and I didn’t want to be subjected to them.
In fact, I set up my entire life to be able to do anything, be anywhere and do whatever I wanted anytime I wanted.
The weird part about this is that it doesn’t actually free you up as much as you think it would.
When you have unlimited options. It’s sort of like trying to generate momentum in a pool. You can do it in the center of the pool, but it’s a lot easier if you can dive in or push off the wall first.
In the midst of it all, I would often describe it to people as “drowning in an ocean of freedom.” So last year, I sold off some of the freedom options in search of traction and it worked. I got more momentum in my business, less chaos in my life and got more of what I wanted by purposely saying no to things that I didn’t absolutely need.
One of those things was “being free of a calendar.” I thought it was a badge of honor to not be subjected to a piece of paper or an app on my phone.
Instead, it led my life to a lot more chaos than I liked. Missed phone calls, opportunities and just being disorganized cost me more than I would like to calculate.
So I got serious about it and again – things changed. By being more structured with my day – I can make time for the things that matter to me and make more progress on things like my impossible list and
I’m busy. And chances are – you are too. But don’t brag about it – be effective with it. Be busy with stuff that matters and that you care about. A hectic life and stress isn’t a good Girl Scout badge.
Owning your calendar is a little like owning your life when it sucks.
When you realize your life sucks, it’s depressing for a while until you realize YOU are the reason for it and that YOU can change it. Being at fault ultimately means you’re able to be responsible for it – which is actually a great thing.
If you’re stressed out about your calendar and your life – here’s the deal – it’s your fault.
Let that sink in.
It’s your fault.
But the good news is the same person who got you into this can get you out (hint: that’s you)
I can help.
Stop using your calendar wrong. Here’s how I flipped the script, learned to embrace my calendar and literally changed my life.
Decide What You’re Going To Do
Most people have a to do list. They don’t do a good job of mapping those to do lists to the time they’re actually going to do this in.
People like Nir Eyal and Taylor Pearson stress the importance of this in their time management strategies and I started embracing it last year at the beginning of the year.
It completely changed the way I build out my time and my weeks. Instead of just writing things to do, I started not only listing them out, but trying to plan out when I was going to do them (more on this in a second)
As it turns out, the calendar is the exact right place to put not only your tasks, but plot out the time in which you can do your tasks.
So once you have the list of things that you need to do – you translate that into time.
Time Block Everything
If you want to understand how to get an enormous amount of work done – you just have to be more ruthless with your time. You do that by being more disciplined, but you also do it by having more structure.
I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time building concrete structures around the world for our Impossible.org and other initiatives. When it comes to building with concrete – if you build a building with just concrete – it’s going to be solid, but it’s only built on itself – it’s completely dependent on it’s own strength. If there’s a weak point or inconsistency in it, it will shift shape, become unsturdy and collapse on itself. That’s why every single structure you see in another country has rebar coming out of the top of the building. Concrete is solid, but rebar gives it structure to last.
Time blocks in your daily structure is a lot like that. Will power is really great and you won’t have a good day or a good building without it. But without rebar – you can have the best concrete block in the world and it will collapse in on itself.
Time blocks give you artificial structure that helps you sort your days and time to become days that you would very much like to have.
When you time block the things – you’re intentional about when and where you put things and are actually purposeful about it – rather than just getting to things whenever you can.
Time block all the things. Even fun, naps, or breaks – plan those out accordingly take into account their energy level, priority level and then stick to them.
Use Pomodoros Like They’re Air
Pomodoros are chunks of 25 minutes where you write out what you’re going to do and then do it for 25 minutes, before taking a 5 minute break and repeating. I write more about the pomodoro strategy here and they’re the basis for workstation popcorn.
If you want to know why they work – there’s two reason: intentionality and purposeful limitations. In 30 minutes, you have a quick feedback loop on whether or not you DID THE THING.
Ever gone a whole day without knowing where it went? That’s because you never closed a feedback loop until the end of the day. If you work 8 hours and check your feedback loops you take your 1 feedback loop throughout the day and turn the into 16! You have 16 more chances to catch yourself slipping and get back on track.
Stop Doing Stuff You Hate
Here’s a huge one. Stop doing stuff you hate. If you don’t like something – you don’t have to do it. You really don’t. You might think you have to do it, but you probably don’t. There’s another way around it.
You can outsource it, relegate it to the end of the week, reprioritize it or just…wait for it…not do it all.
If you can’t stop doing it completely, you can relegate it to time blocks (hey) that don’t zap your prime time energy.
Note: Doing stuff at the wrong time is very similar to doing stuff you hate. I don’t hate email, but it’s not the #1 thing that’s going to change my life or business. If I make that my #1 priority and do it first thing in the morning – I tend to hate it. That said, if I do it at the end of the day, when I’m on autopilot – it doesn’t feel as zapping and I don’t hate it nearly as much.
Stop doing the stuff that you hate and giving your prime time energy to the things that aren’t your prime time focuses
Understand Where You Spend Your Time
Most people get things done or don’t get things done but they don’t actually know where they spent time. You can do it via trackers like rescue time or toggl, but that’s just reactionary. You’re not actually able to plot out where you spent your time vs. how you spent it.
I use Woven’s built in analytics to show me exactly where I’m spending my time every week and if it’s too much in one direction, I can tweak, adjust or remove it entirely from the next week.
Having it auto-calculate literally saves me hours of time and gives me an easy way to see if my actions align with my goals.
Did you like this post? I’m spending more time on productivity and my time is getting more and more limited.
If you want more like this, you can grab my 5 current favorite productivity apps by subscribing below 👇🏼