For 2 years I’ve had this weird habit which I’m following religiously.
Every single day, with no exception.
I always change my calendar after the facts:
With an accuracy of 15 minute increments, I go back and adjust my schedule to the things I actually did. Every. single. time.
Yes. That means that if I’m going to the kitchen to make a coffee right now, I’ll change those 15 minutes in my calendar from “write blog post” to “make coffee”.
Oh, and I also color code them to what category of activities they are: Work, play, health, rest, ….
So why would I choose to push my brain towards autism and make my calendar look like a toddler’s coloring book?
I initially started doing this to further improve my planning skills.
The idea was:
I make a plan. Then afterwards, I compare it with reality so I can learn from it.
- If I consistently need a break after 2 hours of work, I better plan those breaks in my schedule beforehand. Or work will pile up and I’ll feel stressed.
- If a certain activity always takes me an hour longer than planned, I can allocate more time to it next week (this helps a lot with arriving on time to appointments).
- If I say, “every Saturday I’ll work out” but instead, I end up saying yes to social invitations, I can anticipate that. And no longer plan my workouts on Saturdays
This worked, but it actually didn’t turn out to be the reason I kept the habit.
What made this habit stick for me were the unexpected benefits:
First of all, there’s the accountability of looking at my past week and seeing
“Did I actually do what’s important to me, or just random stuff?”
(The color coding also helps me gauge life-work balance.)
But much more impactful was that to my surprise, it increased my happiness levels by a lot.
I can look back as far as I want to, and see the memories in my calendar.
“Which of these moments brought me the most joy?” Then plan in some more of those.
Or, if for some reason, like on this particular day, I’m telling myself: “This month was uneventful.” and feel a bit dull.
I can ask “Is that really true?”, look back, and see:
- Got my “Master Professional Life Coach” certification
- Did level 2 of Authentic Relating Training
- Developed and launched 3 coaching programs (contact me if you would like to hear what’s available)
- Made a content plan for social media
- Fixed some website issues
- Traveled to Spain and UK
- Spent a grand total of 7 evenings not surrounded by friends. 4 of the others were quality time with my partner.
- Took another month of Bachata lessons
- We gave our second BBQ of the season
- Met a lot of fun new people
Seeing this, instead of feeling unenthusiastic, I feel gratitude for the many moments I’ve shared with others.
And the satisfaction of realizing I actually did accomplish some big projects while still tackling work, health and home habits.
Whenever the mind is making a story that my life is less awesome than it is, all I have to do is look at my calendar and reality smiles back.
What makes this such a fantastic habit for transforming your lifestyle is that it confronts you with the truth about how you spend your time, rather than your stories about it.
If you feel like you’re not doing enough of something, your calendar will:
A. Show you that you are, and you’re just being hard on yourself.
B. Confirm that you’re not, but show you which other things you’re doing a lot of. Allowing you to tweak your schedule to perfection.
And of course, before you implement this nifty trick into your life, I want to leave you with one important distinction:
The purpose of this habit isn’t to force your life to fit into the plan on your calendar.
It’s to change your calendar to reflect the way you actually live.
The calendar exists to support your lifestyle, not constrain it.