Sam Corcos

The most substantial improvement in my ability to manage my time came from using my calendar as my to-do list (and subsequently killing my to-do list).

I used to have the habit of overcommitting myself, which became a major source of anxiety in my life because I was dropping balls left and right, and it led me to disappoint a lot of people when deadlines would slip. Tactically, the way this works now is that if someone asks me to do something or if I have a task that needs to be completed, I go to my calendar and block off time for that task.

When people ask me now, “Can you have this done by Friday?” I can easily look at my calendar and respond, “I have exactly two hours open this week, so if it’s going to take more than two hours, we’ll have to change my priorities or I won’t get it done until next week.” Having this level of clarity on my time has been a huge win.

I’ve also found that using a calendar in this way helps surface my priorities. My calendar is often filled a week or two in advance, and being able to take a step back and see what I’ll get done next week allows me to ask myself, “Are these things really the highest and best use of my time?” The answer is often no, which leads me to hand things off to someone else on the team who is better suited to solve the problem or kill the project entirely. It’s a useful forcing function.

Another bonus is that using your calendar as a to-do list makes it easier to close the loop and give folks status updates. For example, imagine you’ve committed to completing something by Tuesday (and add it to your calendar), but something comes up and you’re no longer able to finish it by the due date. With the calendar as your to-do list, you’re forced to move that action item to a different day, and it serves as a reminder to reach out to the stakeholder who is expecting it to be done Tuesday to let them know you’re running behind.

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