I used to plan everything - individual tasks, lunch breaks, exercise. My favourite phrase in the house was, “have you put it on the calendar?”
Now, I don’t care.
- Planning took time. Every week I would religiously put in my time blocks and appointments; this was good for gauging how much (or little) I could accomplish. But it also took a considerable chunk of time, with no tangible benefit when doing the work itself.
- I was anxious about being behind. Time blocking my calendar led me to feel like I was constantly behind. One task would take longer than I had budgeted, knocking out my entire day. Time-blocking evangelists recommend adjusting your schedule when this happens. But it feels like a constant game of cat and mouse. I was always “chasing” the time rather than getting things done.
- I was feeling less accomplished. I have a relatively good idea of how much I can do in a day. But, when I time-blocked my calendar, I found it got less done.
- Meetings are usually pointless. Although meetings can be helpful, it’s rare to find a meeting where everyone is relevant to the discussion, it’s for making a collaborative decision, and action points are recorded. Most of the time, meetings are bloated and accomplish nothing in the name of “teamwork”. I now reject 99% of meetings I’m invited to and favour asynchronous working practices.
But now I don’t use my calendar much, what do I do?
- I don’t accept meetings. As mentioned before, I prefer asynchronous working - discussions over documents, Slack or email.
- Only plan things for the weekend ahead. This means my wife and I can remember our plans and be mindful of other weekend tasks we may need to do.
- Reduce my commitments with other people so I can usually remember all our plans.
- I removed regular appointments. Every week, I have about four or so regular appointments of various sorts. I realised I don’t need my calendar for this. So, I have replaced them with a phone alarm or just remember.
- Don’t plan too far in advance. Plans too far ahead often overwhelmed me because if circumstances changed, I had already committed to something. This simple approach means I can be more flexible with my time. The exception to this is rough travel plans and dentist appointments.
When I first ditched my calendar, it made me feel uneasy.
Coming from a time-blocking world, I felt like I was wasting time. Not doing what I was “supposed” to do.
But, I realised I needed to pay better attention to myself. If I’ve done my daily tasks, I can exercise, take a walk, be with my family, or call someone.
I can relax because I have a single source of “truth” for what I need to do - my to-do list. Life is far simpler, and I get more done.