My Little Personal Productivity Hack – the Path to a Better Life
Am I alone with this challenge? I don’t think so.
When I started my own company in 2001, I was convinced that now I would get full control over my to-do list and find a better balance between my activities and my calendar.
Nope, it didn’t happen.
Although I was in full control over what made it to my to-do list, there were still more activities than hours in the day, and the discrepancy kept growing.
It was frustrating and stressing.
I tried all sorts of tools to get a grip, but it made no difference. TimeManager, TimeSystem, Reminders, Trello, Basecamp, Jive, Pomodoro-Technique, The Seven Habits of Highly Succesful People, Getting Things Done, Tony Robbins, Don Miguel Ruiz – you name it. All great tools, books, and people, but none are a remedy against overcommitment.
A couple of weeks ago I finished a huge project that I had been working on for more than three years and had the pleasure of cleaning up my to-do list and being able to consider what to do next.
Then it struck me.
If I made my calendar my to-do list, then I would be forced to consider how much time each task would require and when I could or should execute them. It is clear that I cannot read a book and write a blog post at the same time. I cannot write a chapter for my next book and review a client report at the same time. I know that I can only do one thing at a time, but it becomes visually more apparent when I have to block hours in the calendar. If someone calls or writes to me for help, I look at my calendar and I am forced to decide what I will forego if I accept a new commitment.
I have people working for me, and sometimes I can delegate. Delegating requires briefing, follow-up, and reviews. That goes into the calendar too.
Some of my projects require reaching out to people I don’t know to make them do things for me (such as review my books, answer questions, agree to interviews, etc.). Such activities suffered substantially on my to-do list, and I kept procrastinating. Now, I allocate an ample block of time for each call – and now they get done – on time.
I still use a collaboration tool for the stuff I delegate (Trello), but I have skipped my to-do list and replaced it with my calendar. Just the standard Google Calendar linked to the calendar apps on my MACs, iPhone, and iPad. I have allocated blocks of time to manage my activities (now time-blocks in my calendar) and check them against my objectives and strategy.
This approach works wonders for me.
Would it work for you?