This is how using your calendar instead of a to-do list will make you more effective
Your calendar isn’t just to book meetings or calls, it can be a very powerful tool to organize your days and weeks by allotting specific chunks of time to do specific activities.
First step: Make your to-do list. Yes, all though it might be old fashioned it’s the first step. Take that list off your brain and put it on paper first. (I highly recommend paper for this)
Second step: Prioritize your list. Which activities are more important? Which activities can wait? Assign a number starting with 1 for the most important.
Third step: How much time will you need for each activity? If the activity is very time consuming, assign an amount of time to start working on it, but just assign some time to the task or activity so you have a better idea of how much space will it need to be assigned during the week.
Fourth step: This is the key step. You have to distribute the activities across your week in a form that honors your personal productivity style. For example, if you like to do creative work at the beginning of the day, leave creative work for the mornings. If you prefer to have meetings in the afternoon, try to set them up in the afternoons. It’s all about matching the activities and time frames to your productivity style
This process will help you to:
Flush all those pending’s from your brain so you don’t feel overwhelmed
Force you to prioritize. Do the important stuff, leave urgent as a second priority
Put you to think in how to distribute your limited resource of time
Increase your productivity by matching activities to your personal productivity style
In my experience, when comparing a week were you go just putting out fires as they come up compared to having a well-planned out week using my calendar I’ve experience producing up to 40% more work!
Test it yourself
Here’s an example of how your table should look on a piece of paper:
By the end of the week you will have:
Focused on what’s most important
Have realistic self-expectations of what you will be able to accomplish. Many times, we want to do more than we can. Adjusting to the limited amount of working hours we have each week will help you have a more realistic self-expectation of what you can accomplish
By having a more realistic self-expectation of what you can do during the week, you will reach Friday with a sense of accomplishment that will motivate you to continue doing this process until it becomes a habit
Don’t forget to leave time for the unexpected! You should leave some space for the day to day stuff that comes up, but none of it should consume your allotted time frames for the other work, unless it is something that has a higher priority than the rest of activities.
If the first time you try out this process you are able to accomplish at least 70% of what you listed, you have had a very good first try. By the second week you will get to around 80% and the third week should be around the 90% accomplishment level according to my personal testing.
If on the other hand, if your first week had a level below to 70% of accomplishment, you need to go back and understand what happened: Did you take up more time that you planned for each activity? Did you not honor your personal productivity style? Did you forget to leave space for the unexpected? Once you figure out what happened, make the required adjustments and try it once again. It will take you at the most two tries to get to an accomplishment level that you feel comfortable with.
It might require some effort to honor the commitments you’ve made to yourself at the beginning, but once you start experiencing the benefits you will see how making these changes really pays off!