Today I am continuing my series of articles that is looking at productivity from a biblical perspective. Thanks to all who have kept reading through what has become quite a long series.
I want to offer special thanks to all those who have provided feedback. I have been encouraged to hear from people who are beginning to explore productivity (many for the first time) and who are attempting to use new tools and implement new procedures. I am particularly interested in receiving feedback from women. I write from a male perspective and am necessarily limited in my understanding of the particular challenges women face as they pursue productivity. So if you are a woman and have been reading along and implementing some of these things, please do leave any feedback that you think I may find helpful. That is especially true if you are mom who is trying to pursue productivity amid all the hustle and bustle of household management.
Much earlier in the series I said that productivity depends upon four tools: information tools, scheduling tools, task management tools, and communication tools. Today I want to focus on the scheduling tool. It is time to consider calendars.
What Goes on Your Calendar
We need to begin by once again turning to the controlling principle of organization: A home for everything, and like goes with like. The calendar is the proper home for something, but for what? Let’s talk about that.
We have already found a home for information—an information management tool—, and a home for tasks—a task management tool. This leaves the calendar as the proper home for events, meetings, and appointments. If you need to remember something that happens at a certain time and at a certain place, it is an ideal candidate for the calendar. These are the only things that belong on your calendar.
This may mark a significant shift for you. It’s quite likely that in the past you have relied on your calendar as the home for your deadlines and tasks. However, I trust the previous articles have shown you the value of task management software and have demonstrated how it offers a more effective solution. Once you have moved deadlines and tasks into their proper home, your calendar will be left with all of those events, meetings and appointments, and hopefully nothing else.
If this is your first experience using both a calendar and task management software, you are likely to experience some tension at first. Unless you are careful, these two tools will infringe on one another’s territory.
Let’s consider a few different items and see whether they belong on the calendar or in task management:
- Doctor’s appointment Monday at 9 AM. This goes on your calendar because it is an appointment that requires you to be at a specific place at a specific time.
- Buy new socks. This goes in task management because it is an action, not an event, meeting, or appointment.
- Open new bank account. This goes in task management because it is an action; though there may eventually be a meeting associated with the action, for the time being it is a task.
- Conference call Wednesday at 4 PM. This goes on your calendar because it is a meeting and requires you to be at a specific place at a specific time.
- Book manuscript due. This goes in task management because it is a task or project, not an event, meeting, or appointment.
Those examples are all quite straightforward. Sometimes, though, you will need to create appointments on your calendar and tasks or projects in your task management software. Consider these examples:
Bible Study. You attend a weekly Bible study and are expected to lead the study once each month. Create an event on your calendar called “Bible Study” for every Wednesday at 7 PM. This reminds you that you need to be at a certain place at a specific time. Also create a task in your task management software called “Prepare Bible Study.” This reminds you that you need to prepare for that Bible study. The calendar ensures that you have marked off the time, and the task ensures you will remember to prepare for it.
Preparing Taxes. You are responsible for mailing in your tax information. To do this you need to prepare material and then meet with your accountant. Create an event on your calendar called “Meeting with Accountant” for Thursday at 3 PM. This reminds you that you need to be at a certain place at a specific time. Create a task in your task management software called “Prepare Taxes.” The calendar ensures that you have reserved the time to meet with the accountant, and the task ensures that you will be adequately prepared.