There is only one tool needed to plan your time.
There is only one tool required to be incredibly productive + effective.
It is the best tool available.
It is simple + clear.
And it’s free.
The tool is not a calendar, app, or task manager.
Thinking we need the right planner/calendar/app in order to be truly organized and efficient with our time is like saying that we can’t get to the beach because we have a Honda, not a Maserati.
The make + model are irrelevant. We can get to the beach either way. We just have to want to get there.
Even a bicycle will do.
And it’s through the commitment that we end up at the beach.
The vehicle doesn’t create the result.
We look for the right tools because we have a thought error.
We believe, consciously or not, that the right tool will inspire us, resulting in effortless action. Or we believe, consciously or not, that the right tool will help us avoid clunkiness or discomfort.
But tools don’t make their use effortless. Practice makes their use effortless. Forming a new habit is always a bit clunky and never happens without refinements to our original plan. Just compare anything you now do flawlessly to how you did it when you first started.
These thought errors keep us stuck.
We spend time searching for the right tool, instead of planning + figuring out what works.
Searching gives us no data. Action + results give us data.
Tools don’t do the work.
Systems are inanimate.
They don’t inherently work or not work.
The humans using them either commit to them or the humans using them do not.
There is no single external tool that will, out of the box, magically make our use of time incredibly effective.
A notepad + pen used consistently is a better system than sophisticated task management software used sporadically.
Tools don’t remove the real barrier, which is usually a combination of what we believe about our capabilities and our desire to avoid things that feel hard.
The way to find your actual barrier is to listen to what your brain tells you when you ask, “what if it doesn’t matter what tool I use?”
If your brain returns things like: I don’t know where to begin, I don’t know what I’m doing, I don’t know what I want to spend my time doing, I’ve never been able to plan my time, I’ve failed at every attempt to use my calendar . . . Your barrier is your belief about your own capability or agency.
No system will change those beliefs. Your work is to see how that way of thinking is holding you back and believe something new: I start by committing. My only job is to use my calendar today, then to use it again tomorrow. I get better at what I practice. Learning to ride a bike requires falling, but once you learn it’s like riding a bike.
If your brain returns things like: It takes so much effort to use my calendar. I want to plan, but it always seems to fall to the bottom of my list. It’s so hard to keep everything I need to do in one place. There’s a constant stream of stuff I can’t predict that disrupts my day . . . Your barrier is discomfort avoidance.
No system will be comfortable enough for you. Your work is to make a decision about whether short-term discomfort with a payoff is preferable to how you feel now. And if you decide to commit, you can remind yourself: I’d rather feel clunky for a couple of weeks than feel crazed every day. How I spend my time is my decision; it doesn’t happen to me. This will be so worth it when it feels automatic. I’m so excited for the moment when I use my calendar without thinking about it.
I love tools. I think they’re amazing. But if you aren’t taking action because you haven’t found the right one, or if you believe your current tool is the problem, or if you believe that once you find the right tool your problem will be solved . . . finding a new one won’t help. I promise.
Commitment — to effectiveness, time management, planning, whatever you would use the tool for — is what creates results.
I use Google Calendar, Active Inbox, Calendly, Mailchimp, Hootsuite, Dubsado, Reminders, and probably about 10 other tools. I guarantee if they all went belly-up tomorrow, my time would be just as effectively used, my days would be as organized, I would get as much done, and I would have the same balance in my life that I do now.
Commit. The tool doesn’t matter. Just get down to business. Then evaluate + iterate.
You’ve got a brain + a goal. That’s all you need.
Last week alone, I had conversations about this topic with three different deeply capable, high-achieving clients. We seek externally for solutions to our feelings of overwhelm or hectic-ness or pinballing. We seek to solve the confusion that comes up when we don’t yet know exactly how to do something by thinking that a tool will be the solution. You are a powerful force. A decision-maker, chooser, committer. That’s all you need to get it all done. If you don’t want to wait any longer to be in charge of your time, schedule a consultation.