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Kill Your To Do List

CJ Chilvers
CJ Chilvers
2 min read

Here’s what’s always bothered me about task management systems: it’s not what Presidents use.

Crazy thought, right? But hear me out.

Who has more projects to manage; more people demanding their time; more riding on their decisions than a head of state? Yet, they don’t manage their tasks.

They manage their time.

It makes sense. A president could have an infinite amount of tasks to manage, an infinite amount of meetings to attend and an infinite amount of decisions to make. But they all have a finite amount of time. So, that’s what requires managing.

Why should we be any different?

I've slowly become a convert to the idea that we need to concentrate on our calendars a whole lot more to achieve what we want in work and life. If you want it done, it must be scheduled. If it's not scheduled, it's just another item on your wishlist that will never be completed.

There's a reason the calendar has been the preferred method of task management for decades for CEOs, heads of state and billionaires lounging on islands. If you're not managing your agenda, someone else will happily create an agenda for you based on their needs.

My friends Patrick Rhone and Garrick Van Buren figured this a while ago. They put out an audio program called Power of When. Garrick even has a course about How to Use a Calendar.

Kevin Kruse wrote about this for Forbes and in his book 15 Secrets Successful People Know about Time Management:

"Do you really think Richard Branson and Bill Gates write a long to-do list and prioritize items as A1, A2, B1, B2, B3, C1 and on and on?"
"In my research into time management and productivity, I’ve interviewed over 200 billionaires, Olympians, straight-A students and entrepreneurs. I always ask them to give me their best time management and productivity advice. And none of them have ever mentioned a to-do list."
"Ultra-productive people don’t work from a to-do list, but they do live and work from their calendar."

We can get into a real deep dive about best practices for ditching your to do list and embracing your calendar, and I may do that in future posts because this is really important stuff.

But first, we must admit the truth. The calendar doesn't lie. It's brutal about how much time you actually have in a day to complete your projects. It's honest. We need to stop wishing, determine what's important enough to spend our very limited time on and get it scheduled.