The next time you make a commitment to do something— put it in your calendar, not on your to-do list. This includes:
- Phone Calls
- Text Messages
- Office Meetings
- “Do you have a minute…?” Moments
The list of interruptions throughout the day are infinite. By the time you get to the end of this post –if you get to the end of this post— it is guaranteed at least one of these will interrupt you. Has it happened yet?
If you are like me, one of these little interruptions often comes with a string attached to it. They are reminders, requests or something which requires me to follow through. My typical response is to grab a piece of paper and a pen and write “To-Do List” at the top, scribble the need down, and then lay it next to my computer.
By the end of the week, I have a pile of notifications asking for “something” I agreed to do. My schedule got double booked and sometimes I missed the meeting. My “To-Do List” became a “Hope To-Do List” –only there was nothing “hopeful” about the situation. After weeks of this pattern, I realized I needed to find a way to make sure I did what I said I was going to do.
My answer? I began using my computer calendar as my “To-Do List.” This required me to recognize I only had so many hours in a day. I had to force myself to make decisions on what I needed to do. When I saw the decisions I already committed to in my calendar it helped me respond correctly to the little interruptions that popped up during the day. This technique also clued me into the fact that It was not possible for me to deliver upon each and every interruption.
This technique works for a couple of reasons:
- A calendar is a constrained resource unlike a to-do list which can be infinite. It forced me to make decisions about what is really important.
- Everything I do takes time. If I do not schedule time for it to get done, it won’t get done.
Think: Many of our “to do lists” are “hope to do lists.” We can train our brains to focus and complete tasks by utilizing the tools we use every day.