Do you find that your to-do list is a source of stress? A to-do list can become a monster, a never ending list of tasks quietly burning a hole in your pocket, and gnawing at your mind.

There are a few reasons why this can happen.

  1. To-do lists don’t differentiate between short tasks and long tasks; some tasks take 5 minutes while others take hours.
  2. They do not prioritize your list, which means that chores and life goals are given the same priority.
  3. To-do list tasks are not scheduled, making them flexible and easy to procrastinate.

For these reasons a to-do list may not be the best method for you to accomplish your work or your goals.

The good news: there is another way.

Sayonara To-Do List. Welcome Calendar!

Many highly successful people don’t use a to-do list but instead use a very well kept calendar. There are several reasons why you should try this.

  • If you truly want to get something done you don’t put it on a list, you schedule time for it. Keeping a calendar allows you to schedule time for everything, pushing you to get it done by adding a time and date when you are to do it.
  • Lists can cause undue stress but calendars do not. With a list you will worry about when you are going to write that article you need to write, but with a calendar you will know you are going to write it at 7pm on Thursday, and you can take that extra weight off your mind.
  • Calendars help you say no to people and ensure that things get done. With a to-do list it’s easy to accept distractions since your calendar appears to be open, and therefore flexible. However, when your calendar says you will cold call for new clients at 2pm, and someone asks you to do something else at 2pm, you can simply tell them no, reschedule time with them if it’s important, and get your cold calling done at 2pm as planned.
  • Keeping a calendar lets you maximize your time for efficiency and accomplish even more. By scheduling everything in time blocks it will encourage you to work on that task for 2 hours and exercise for 1 hour, whereas with a to-do list you might flex on those times or skip one of them since it’s not scheduled.

Tools for Keeping a Calendar

Are you ready to replace your to-do list with a calendar? There are several tools you can use to keep a calendar.

Here are some of your options:

  • Google Calendar
  • iCloud Calendar
  • Outlook Calendar
  • Old-fashioned agenda with big calendar blocks
  • A dry-erase wall calendar

There’s no right answer. Pick one that you like, and keep in mind that you can always change calendars later.

Converting from To-Do List to Calendar

Once you’ve got your calendar, making the transition is simple.

The first step is to schedule the items from your to-do list onto your calendar. Pick a day and time for each item, estimate how long it will take, and block off that chunk of time on your calendar. Make sure you have reminders on so you get a notification before your time block.

Once you’ve scheduled your entire to-do list onto your calendar, you’re all set! Any future items can go right on the calendar.

Take a moment now to think about which items are recurring.

  • Do you work out 3 times a week?
  • Exercise every morning?
  • Write 4 times a week?

Set up recurring appointments for these items in your calendar so they automatically block out time every week at your chosen days and times.

Another beautiful aspect of this transition is that now when you have to cancel one of your time blocks you can reschedule it right away on your calendar so it still gets done. No more wondering when you’ll find time.

Give yourself a pat on the back. You have now converted from a to-do list to a calendar.

I’m confident you’ll feel a reduction in stress and accomplish even more than before! That pesky to-do list won’t be missed.

Questions for You

  1. What problems have you noticed with using a to-do list?
  2. How do you manage your time and work toward your goals?