Your Calendar as Todo List

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Why I am getting into time-block planning, with clip from Nir Eyal and Shane Parrish
My tweet thread:

Audio source: (40 mins in)

Future edit: Followup episode with Cal Newport on Time Block Planning

Main Points

1. Prioritize the hard stuff not the distracting stuff
2. Todo lists don't have constraints, Calendars do
3. Self image of Person Who Gets Things Done


swyx: [00:00:00] I want to share with you an idea that I've been recently very obsessed with, and it comes like many things from Cal Newport. But I'm going to use my own words. And here it goes: 
your Calendar as Todo List. (Why I'm getting into time block planning).
 We are besieged by to-do lists, open browser tabs, YouTube watch later podcast queue, Twitter, bookmarks, unread emails, notifications messages. 
To do lists aren't good enough. They just solve the easy problem: storage. 
The actual hard problems: prioritization and scheduling. 
Calendars or to-do lists with prioritization and scheduling built in. 
You have to answer questions like: what should I do first? And what's my time budget for this? 
Most people's calendars only track meetings with others, but why shouldn't we make appointments with ourselves? 
Your calendar is the only todo list, where you have a chance at a 100% completion rate. 
 So I heard a version of this in Shane parishes podcasts with near IUL. And I wanted to clip his version of his as well, because he writes about it in his book Indistractible.  

Nir Eyal: [00:01:04] So the second step is to make time for traction. That's the second big strategy making time for traction essentially acknowledges that you can't call something a distraction unless you know what it distracted you from. And so, yeah, this is where we're actually. Yeah. So this is  a really, really important insight.
Most people out there don't keep any sort of a schedule, what they keep as a to-do list. And to-do lists are horrible 

Shane Parrish: [00:01:26] validated right now. Oh, you're not a big to-do list guy either. No, I hit two. Do I put every, almost everything in my calendar? 

Nir Eyal: [00:01:32] Yes. Okay. Thank goodness. So you're already a convert and this is, this has been around for decades.
Actually. This is one of the most. Well-researched time management techniques out there. This is called making an implementation intention. Literally thousands of studies have shown that you are much more likely to do what you say you're going to do when you plan a time and place to do it. It's common sense.
And it's incredible how few people say, Oh, I use my to do list to get things done because that's what some guru told me. Or I read some books that's what I'm supposed to do. And they don't realize. That to-do lists are killing your productivity and they kill your productivity for a few reasons. I know I'm killing a sacred cow right now, but this is really, really important.
I'm not saying don't write down things. Okay. If what you do is a brain dump of here's all the things I need to get done. That's fine. What I'm saying specifically is don't run your life with a to-do list. Don't wake up in the morning and look at your to-do list. As the first place you look, you should be looking at your calendar.
Your calendar is your best todo list. And the reason todo lists are so toxic is for a few reasons. 
Number one, when people look at it to do list first thing in the morning, as opposed to their calendar. Do you think the first thing they do in the morning is the important thing, the hard thing, the thing they know, they really need to get done. No, of course not. They do the easy stuff, right? They do the stuff. That's not that important. The distracting stuff. It doesn't really matter if they did. That's what we tend to do. 
The second big problem with, to do lists is that they're not, there's no constraint to a Todo List. So what people do with to-do lists, they just add more and more and more and more and making them even less likely to finish what they say they're going to do. I've never met anybody who actually finishes everything they say they're going to do on there to do this. Unless they keep a calendar. They never finish everything. And this was me by the way, five years ago. I This is very autobiographical. 
And the third reason this is so toxic is that when you live like this, when day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, you don't do what you said you're going to do. You still have unfinished tasks at the end of your day on your to-do list, you are reinforcing a self image of someone who doesn't live with personal integrity. Right? That you are reinforcing another day, went by and I didn't do what I said. I'm going to do. I lied to myself yet again, I didn't go to the gym. I didn't finish that project. I didn't make time for my kids, whatever the case might be. I didn't do what I said I was going to do. And that over time begins to become acceptable. And that's where we really lose the war. We begin to think of ourself image as someone who just can't follow through, and then it's a lost cause as opposed to.

A timebox calendar with a timebox calendar. What we're doing is we're going to decide in advance, how we are going to spend our time. And the only metric of success is not. Did we check some time, some box off, right? That's not the metric of success. 
The only metric of success is not finishing anything. The only metric of success is did we do what we said we were going to do for as long as we said we would, without distraction. 
Not did I finish? Okay. This is a big. Mind shift for people. It's not about finishing the task. It's about working on the task for as long as you said you would without distraction.
And it turns out that people who use that tactic actually finish more. They are actually more  productive than the to-do list people. So that's why time boxing is such an absolutely fundamentally important technique that we must use. And it's really about what I call turning our values into time. Where the first step here is to ask yourself, how, what are your values really?
That's where we start, but this is very difficult for people. Cause you know, I don't know what are my values. Instead, what I tell people to do is to look at values as attributes of the person you want to become. Okay. If values are defined as attributes of the person you want to become. So what you're going to do is to ask yourself, how would the person I want to become, spend their time.
And so here's where I give these three life domains. Have you, you are at the center of these three life domains. How would the person you want to become invest time in themselves?
Your Calendar as Todo List
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