Sorry, I don’t want to live out of my calendar


Let’s talk about your schedule. The things you put on your calendar, like appointments, conference calls, court appearances, and other time-bound tasks. Things you need to do on a certain day and at a certain time.

Not a lot to say about that. You schedule them so you don’t forget them and you do them. 

But what about everything else? 

What about things you want to do or need to do at some point, perhaps soon, but not necessarily today or this week? What about routine tasks you need to do to keep the wheels greased and the motor running? 

Some people put those on their calendar, too. They schedule time for their morning routine, for example, or block out time during the day to work on a certain project. 

Some people schedule everything. 

They know what they’re going to do today, tomorrow, this week and next. Sometimes, down to the minute.

This is a great way to get things done, but it’s not for me.

What do I do?

I calendar appointments and meetings, of course, but for everything else, I make lists.

Every day, my task app gives me today’s list (based on what I decided to do during a weekly review). At the top are the “must do” tasks, e.g., appointments, etc., and anything else I need to do that day. What you’re reading right now is one of those things. 

Under the must do’s are other things I should do or want to do today, but not necessarily at a specific time. Nor are they “must do’s” so I can do them the next day or in the days to come. 

Finally, there are my routine tasks. Things I try to do every day (or week).

It’s a simple list and, other than appointments and must do’s, everything is a suggestion. 

Actually, it is a very sensible way of working.

I don’t force myself to do anything “now” (unless it’s a must do). I can do it later. 

As long as you do what you need to do, it doesn’t matter when you do it, does it? (If it does matter, it should indeed go on the calendar.)

By the end of the day, I usually finish most of the things on my list. Not everything, but that’s okay. Tomorrow or next week are okay.

If you want to try this, here are some guidelines: 

  1. Make your list for tomorrow the night before, after you’ve looked at tomorrow’s calendar.
  2. Keep this list short. A few things, not everything. 
  3. Keep a second list of things you want to do this week (or so). Keep this short, too. 
  4. If you finish today’s list and have time and energy to do more, look at “this week” and choose something else. 
  5. Keep additional lists for daily, weekly, and monthly routines. Reference these when you make tomorrow’s list or let an app remind you.  

Working this way allows me to stay productive without pushing myself to do more than I can do, and flexible enough to keep me getting things done.

But maybe tomorrow.