The most difficult discipline to develop in my experience has been owning my calendar. I believe that this discipline is one of the keystone disciplines that need to be developed. It will control the level of success we ultimately achieve in life. The bad news is I fail at it daily. The good news is I am working on it daily too.
Time is the most precious resource we have. Our clock is ticking and we all have less time every second that passes. Making the most of what we have left is crucial to being successful, being happy, reaching goals, and making an impact on those around us.
Problems arise when events and distractions creep into our calendars. They can seem benign. Maybe someone asked you to lunch when you were expecting to get some work done. You could have to make an extra trip to the store that you didn’t plan on making. These things by themselves don’t seem like that big of a deal and we happily complete them. But when you look critically at what you gave up you realize that these unexpected, unplanned, tasks steal your time from you. That time is needed to do the work that advances you towards your goals.
Now, I completely understand that there are things in our lives that will be unexpected that we must do. I am not advocating to be a heartless robot. However, I think we can all stand to say no a little more. We should guard our time against outside influence as much as possible. Only let in what WE decide to let in, not what OTHERS try to influence.
There are 3 aspects needed to get ahold of your calendar.
- Decide what is important.
- Schedule in a PHYSICAL PAPER calendar.
- Execute and make the hard decisions.
One, decide what is important. This is no easy task. But if you want to control your time and your life you need to figure out what is critically important to you and your goals then exclude everything else. When you make a list of what you are willing to give up your time for you can run every decision through that filter. For example, all of my decisions are made by comparing the action that is competing for my time against my 4 areas of focus.
- Fitness (Physical & Diet)
- Personal Improvement
If something comes up that doesn’t advance me in these areas I say no to it the vast majority of the time. However, because I am not the tin man, I do make exceptions to enjoy other areas of life, but not often, and definitely not without thinking of the consequences.
If you can get the first part down, the second part is the easiest one of the three. Get yourself a paper organizer with the whole year broken down into weeks, days, and 15-minute intervals. Technology is great and convenient, and we all have calendar apps that do what they claim to do, but when we physically write something down it ingrains it into our brains a little more deeply.
Keep the calendar with you, use it, make it a habit. You can always put the information on your digital calendar as a backup.
Lastly, follow the schedule you set in your calendar. This is by far the hardest part. It takes real work and effort to be consistent. It is so easy to put off a task until a different time or day, but you need to make the hard decision to stick to the plan. However, if you do make a mistake, brush it off. Just accept that it happened and move on. No dwelling. No getting down. It happened and its over. The progress is ahead.
It will take years of practice to get this right. To completely control my time without mistakes is so far away I can’t even see the finish line. The discipline learned, and the cumulative time spent focused on the goals will pay huge dividends in the end. It is not easy but it is necessary. We have to try.