It will almost make you live up to your commitments.
“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.” ― Peter F. Drucker
Most of us use our calendars to just make sure that we don’t forget some important social event or miss a meeting that we need to attend.
And while I use it for those things as well, I discovered another way to use it that has proven to be a gamechanger in regards to me living up to my commitments and increasing my productivity dramatically.
I was able to do this my implementing a simple technique I call living up to calendar commitments.
How did I discover this?
I stumbled upon this happenstance one day when I was working through a particularly busy day.
I had a number of things on my to-do list and was thinking through which one to do first when something popped up on my calendar that I forgot I put there two weeks ago.
The calendar reminder was something that I had said I was going to do two weeks ago because I thought of a friend who I hadn’t spoken to in a while.
I was busy in the midst of the day, so I didn’t have time to call that person right then, so I put a calendar invite to call them two weeks out right before my lunch period began because I knew I would have time then.
Even though at that moment, I didn’t want to particularly call that person because I was so busy, the fact that I put it on my calendar made me feel instantly committed to doing it.
If not then, when?
This one realization then allowed me to understand the power of what I call calendar commitments, and I started using them to hold myself accountable to accomplish a number of tasks in an extremely efficient manner.
What are calendar commitments?
Calendar commitments are those things that you put on your calendar that you know you need to do at some point but just don’t have the time or desire to do in the moment you think about them.
These are things that you would typically put off because you are either too busy or know that it will require a high level of effort from you in some capacity, so you find yourself making excuses not being able to do it.
Examples would be begin working on the outline of that book you said you were going to write, going for a run to begin training for that 5k in three months, or calling your mom because you committed to doing so every week.
Calendar commitments are those things that we don’t naturally gravitate to want to do easily because they may not be as fun or as pleasurable as other things, but we know that they will help us reach our goals or provide long term value to our lives.
How do you use them?
The way calendar commitments work is that whenever the thought of something that you need to do comes into your head, you take a minute to think about how important that task is, how much time you think it will take, and when will be the best time to do it.
You must take these questions seriously because once you commit to putting it on your calendar, you have to then tell yourself that you are going to do it at that time no matter what.
If you’re not sure you’re committed to doing it, then you can put it on a to-do list somewhere to review later, but if you are 100% sure that this thing needs to be done and that you can do it within the timeframe that you are thinking will work in the future, you put it down.
Now, come hell or high water, you stick to that commitment when it pops up at that time and refuse to let anything stop you from following through.
Why do they work?
Calendar commitments work because they take advantage of two aspects of a human’s natural psyche.
First, they appeal to our natural propensity to procrastinate on things that may not be appealing to us immediately.
When we think of something that we should do that we know is going to take a bit of time and effort, we naturally have a propensity to want to put it off. That’s fine because with the philosophy of calendar commitments, you naturally get one time to do that.
But in the delaying of the task, you have to seriously consider where it sits in regards to your list of priorities and when you can realistically do it.
Once you’ve landed on that date and time and put it on the calendar, the commitment has been made. Now, when the reminder pops up, you have the choice of doing it as you said you would or knowing that you just decided to not live up to a commitment.
The psychological feeling of letting yourself down by not doing what you said you were going to do is typically enough to get our minds to just push through the unpleasantness of whatever we have to do at that time to get it done and keep our commitment to ourselves.
The incongruence of seeing something on your calendar that you know you need to do and said you were going to do and completely ignoring it will gnaw at you internally until you will find yourself doing the task that you really didn’t want to do at the time.
And while this doesn’t guarantee that the actual act of whatever you put on your calendar will be any easier to do, at least you’ll have one more thing checked off your check list to see what the next calendar reminder will trick you into doing.