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Calendar Before To-Do

Jun 07, 2022

by Aubrey Patterson

 

A great many swear by their to-do lists, and with good reason. Psychologist, author, and film-maker David Cohen maintains that a completed list greatly reduces anxiety.

Individuals with a strong internal locus of control believe events in their life derive primarily from their own actions, whereas those with a strong external locus of control tend to praise or blame external factors. A list is a way of being in charge. Sorting things out and getting jobs done gives you a sense of having influence on a world that seems beyond your control. - David Cohen

But these feelings of influence and control come at a cost.

Because it’s easy to add things to a list, our to-do items can quickly grow to an unmanageable number. To make things worse, as our well-intentioned lists expand, lesser items begin to take on equal importance with our most impactful work.

Simply put, putting too much stock in that convenient and coveted to-do list often leads to us spending time rapidly rather than investing it wisely.

Scheduling forces you to confront the reality of how much time you actually have and how long things will take. - Cal Newport

Invest or Spend?

We aren't anti-listers.

Not at all.

To-do lists that consist of a few items are helpful, and we like checking off boxes too.

We recommend adding one simple step in order to minimize the number of items and enable maximum effectiveness: before adding an item to your list, first attempt to put it into your calendar. 

If the item isn't calendar worthy, then it isn't a priority. Use a recurring block of time later in the day - ideally not during your best thinking hours - to take care of such small tasks.

Every time we open our calendar, we're forced to confront the fact that we have a finite amount of time available and that we need to invest it wisely into our priorities. And putting smaller tasks into lesser boxes reminds us of our priorities.

To-do lists are valuable, but the most productive leaders begin with a calendar.

 

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