Bernie Anderson
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Current musings, whatever they may be. 

The Most Important Productivity Tool You Already Own

I have two desks. One is analog (shown here). One is digital (using it now). Both have calendars. 

Your calendar is potentially the most important productivity tool you already own.

It really doesn't matter if it's digital or analog. Your choice. But if you're not using a calendar - start. Today.

Here's why: Your calendar is the untouchable dwelling place of your written schedule. A written schedule is more sacred than nearly anything - especially in our Western time-driven society.

“My schedule is full until Tuesday”

(substitute "calendar" for "schedule" - see what I did there? It's the same.)

That's all you have to say to pretty much anyone in the West. There will be instantaneous understanding and empathy. Use our culture that thrives on busy-ness for your benefit.

What do you put in your calendar? Everything that's important to you. I'm not just talking about the obvious stuff, like lunch appointments and board meetings. I'm talking about the things that are most important.

Here're some things in my calendar/schedule.

  • prayer
  • Writing
  • Walking (that's code for "thinking")
  • Reading
  • Time with the people I care most about

Once it's in there it's sacrosanct. Can't touch this.

But here're a couple of really important rules for calendars.

Only put appointments into your calendar that you actually intend to keep.

Be ruthless in keeping them.

If you make an appointment to create - create. If the time is set aside to pray - actually pray.

This is important because if you begin to stop keeping your own commitments, and allow demands from the outside to interfere with what you have defined as truly important, life and work are beginning to get the best of you - and that's not healthy. Lines of between what is important and what is trivial become blurred. This results in increased stress and lower productive satisfaction. Keep your own commitments.

One more rule, on the side. (Free bonus for working with your calendar.)

Allow a buffer between calendar events.

This is important, especially if your work requires a lot of back to back meetings. Scheduling an event literally the next minute after a meeting is finished is a sure-fire way to sabotage your day.

The one-hour default for electronic calendar events is dumb. I've reset my default for 25 minutes*. Most meetings don't need an hour. And I want five minutes between one event and the next.

Buffer. Don't schedule anything without it.

Here's the important thing.
Us your calendar to create. It doesn't matter if it's a digital or analog calendar (I actually use both). Use a calendar to set your schedule.

Give your self a deadline. Do a lot of work. Do it every day.

That's how to get better.

It's how to get started closing the gap.

*There's not straightforward way of doing this with Apple Calendar. Which is weird. I did it with a Terminal command - or you can use a 3rd party calendar like "BusyCal". I don't know how to do things in Windows ...