A Tool is Only as Good as the Dummy Using It

Twice in the last week my calendar has failed me. Or better, I have failed my calendar. First, I wrote down the time of an appointment wrong. Fortunately, I wrote it down a week earlier than it really was, so no harm done. Second, I wrote down the correct time of an appointment, but didn’t look at my calendar, and so thought the event started at 7:30 a.m., when it really started at 8:00 a.m. I thought I was five minutes late when I left my house at 7:20 a.m., when I was really 25 minutes early. I could have eaten breakfast! Neither one of these mistakes caused an inconvenience to anyone else, but both could have if I had written the even down a week later than it really was or thought it started 30 minutes earlier than it did. Calendars are great tools, but they don’t put events on themselves, and they must be looked at to be used properly (duh).

David Allen has a lot of helpful things to say about using a calendar, much of what is common sense – but then, that’s all that Getting Things Done (GTD) is: taking what you’re probably already doing and helping you to do it more efficiently and effectively. He says that the calendar should be your “hardscape,” a list of the things that must happen that day. ONLY put on the calendar what is time specific, day specific, or a reminder you need that day. Leave everything else on your “next action” lists, lists of things that you can do whenever you have some free time. Too many people put too much on their calendar, and then those things get lost in the shuffle of life, or you don’t trust your calendar or your lists. Speaking of those next action lists, organize them by context (at phone, at computer, at home, errands, etc.) so that they will be most helpful to you as you go about your day. Personally, I do a bad job of not assigning time slots to things that I know need to be done: sermon prep, bulletin writing, etc. We have to do the front end work of thinking about our work (how long will it take to do this, when can I do this, when will I have energy/time/resources needed to do it, what is involved in doing this, etc.) so that when the time comes to do something, or when we have a free hour, we can just get to work doing what needs to get done.

The Farmer

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