This year has been an interesting year for me. I have greatly expanded what I do in the personal productivity and self development space by launching eight online courses, a podcast, writing a book and continuing to develop my YouTube channel. It has been hard, but a lot of fun and I have got to know some incredible people.
As I reflect on the year, I wonder how I created so much when in previous years it always felt a struggle. In the past, I would be happy writing a book and get at least one YouTube video out each week. This year, I have written the book, created nearly 200 videos for YouTube and developed a lot more. What changed?
One of the best methods I discovered this year was to make better use of my calendar. My calendar has always been where I put concrete commitments, either to myself or to others. But I realised that was stopping me from using my calendar effectively. This year, I used it to commit to things I wanted to do like recording and editing my YouTube videos. There is a recurring event in my calendar now between 4pm and 6pm each Saturday to sit down in the studio to record my YouTube videos. There is also another recurring event between 10pm and 2am to edit those videos. On those Saturdays when I had a commitment with my family or friends, I would reschedule my recording and editing times — usually to Sunday morning. By utilising my calendar in this way, the recording was committed to and I felt no stress or overwhelm because I knew I always had scheduled time for the recording.
This also worked for creating my online courses. To record an online course requires around twelve to sixteen hours of recording and up to twenty hours of editing. This meant I needed to find at least three days to record and edit videos as well as time to write and develop the courses. The way I did this was to look for public holiday days, because these gave me a full day free to do whatever I wanted to do. It also meant I was able to plan ahead as public holiday dates are known well in advance. The planning and development for these courses was done during my normal working day. I would use my phone to capture and develop ideas while on a bus or train in Evernote, and so when the recording day came around, I was able to get straight in to the recording.
I applied the same system to writing my book, Your Digital Life 2.0, writing this blog and developing my podcast. I have scheduled time in my calendar to write/record each week. This blog, for example, is written every Monday morning between teaching. My podcast is written on a Tuesday afternoon and the recording of the podcast is done on a Friday afternoon. All of these events are scheduled in my calendar.
What happens now at the start of each week is I have firm, concrete commitments to write, record and edit the content I produce and because I treat my calendar as sacred territory and I can say “no” to other, conflicting commitments, I know this content will be produced.
I know a lot of people want to start doing something new. It could be a hobby, it could be to learn a new skill or it could be to write a book. All of these new endeavours require a time commitment and because of that most people will never start. There will always be the excuse of: “I don’t have time at the moment” or “I’ll do in next year”. The problem, of course, is these excuses will still be there next month and next year. You will always not have enough time, and next year is just another way of saying, “I am not going to do it”. The truth is, if you really want to do these things you are going to have to allocate time and you are going to have give yourself a firm start date.
This is why using your calendar for commitments you will not break is an extremely powerful way to start doing the things you really want to do. If you use your calendar to schedule time to try the new things you want to try, or to write, or exercise, there is a much greater chance you will do them. This year, for example, I have not been as disciplined with my exercise routine as I would like to have been. I identified this as an issue around September and so I started scheduling thirty minute blocks for exercise. This worked as it got me exercising regularly again. It was a simple change and it worked.
Your calendar, when used properly, is a very powerful tool. It is easy to become blind to long lists of to-do items in a to-do list manager, just like it is easy to add your wishes to your to-do list. But if you use your calendar for your concrete commitments, then anything on your calendar must be done at its allotted time. It means each day will be structured and you will know in advance what you are going to get done. A to-do list manager does not do this very well. All a to-do list manager does is tell you what needs doing. Your calendar will tell you when you are going to do it. When you get your to-do list and your calendar working together harmoniously like this, you can start achieving incredible things.
So if you want to start achieving the things you have always wanted to achieve, make a firm commitment today to only use your calendar for concrete commitments and start doing the things you really want to do.
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My goal is to help show you how to live the life you desire. To help you find happiness and become better organised and more productive so you can do more of the important things in life.