If It’s Not on the Calendar, It Doesn’t Exist

Julie, here…

Somewhere along the line I ran across this quote, and I find it’s absolutely true: “If it’s not on the calendar, it doesn’t exist.” What does this mean, and how can it help you in your quest to put good things into the world, while still creating space to take care of yourself?

You are filled with so many hopes and dreams, but unless you find the time to work on them, your aspirations will remain unmet. It’s one thing to hope you can start exercising, and quite another to actually schedule time at 7:00 a.m. to lace up your running shoes and head out the door.

Left to my own whims, I tend to get little actually done. Oh, I’m busy, but this busyness leads me down rabbit trails. What began as an honest researching of something online leads to triggering another thought, which leads to places I might like to travel, which leads to learning about that place, which leads me to the weather app on my phone, and while I’m on my phone, I may as well check out Instagram and Facebook… and once I’m there, it’s a hard crawl out of the hole I’ve dug for myself.

None of those pursuits are inherently wrong, of course. The problem is when I’ve failed to account for time. Surely I’m not the only one who marvels at how time speeds up and over an hour passes, having accomplished… um, pretty much nothing.

In order to reach our goals (be they professional or personal), the secret is scheduling time to work on them.

Block out time on the calendar. Start with short bursts and see how much you can get done. Post a sticky note on your laptop: “9:00-9:15 – email.” And during that short time, that’s all you’ll be doing. You’re not hopping over to Facebook or the news. You can do that later. For the next 15 minutes, all you’re doing is sending and answering email.

Need to research an idea? Maybe a little longer block of time is needed. But again, that’s all you’ll be doing. Close all other tabs. Don’t forget the little note on your laptop that gives the visual cue to stay on track: “10:00-10:30 – research.”

What about the non-professional things you want to do? Creating structure for those is just as important. My husband and I have been blocking out time on our calendars for Bible reading and meditation, connecting with family and friends on social media, exercise, consuming self-improvement material, catching up on current events, preparing healthy food, reading just for fun, playing music. If it’s not on the calendar, it doesn’t exist, and many of those things would be quick to fall off if I didn’t make time for them. Yet they are every bit as important as answering emails and researching.

This isn’t meant to be a blog on productivity, so much as wanting to share tips on how to prioritize the things in life that are important to you. Don’t just hope you’ll get around to them. Put them on your calendar.

Remember the old saying, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Plan for work and plan for personal pursuits. The calendar is one of your best tools for reaching your personal and professional goals.

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