If you really want to achieve your goals in 2018, put down the to do list. It turns out that simply making lists isn’t the most effective workflow to get things done.
“Millionaires don’t use to do lists,” author Srinivas Rao wrote on Medium. The most successful people, he says, work from a calendar. Rao explains that using a calendar to organize your goals is more effective because “our lives are dictated almost entirely by units of time.”
He noted several examples, such as “publishers give authors deadlines,” “professors give students a syllabus with important dates,” and “when you ship something you are told how long it will take to get to the recipient.”
Looking at a calendar can actually change the way you think about a goal. On Unmistakable Creative, Rao's podcast meant to inspire creativity and help listeners find purpose in their lives and careers, he interviewed Timeful creator Dan Ariely. Timeful is a time management-focused tech company.
“The moment you have a way to represent things easily like meetings and you don’t have a good way to represent something like writing a book or meditating or exercising and so on, the things that are represented will be carried out and the things that are not represented will not get carried out,” Ariely said.
Basically, we’re better at keeping scheduled meetings at work than we are at keeping a schedule of personal activities or goals.
Rao used this principal to add more reading time into his life, and it helped him read at least 30 minutes a day. So, let’s say you have a New Year’s resolution to write a book, keep in touch with more people, or exercise more. Putting it in your calendar will keep that resolution front and center in your mind and help you to work at it every day.
“When an event is consistently scheduled on your calendar, it’s much more likely to transform into an unconscious habit,” Rao said.
And the best part is, you can still use that calendar to list out your tasks. Especially if you use Google Calendar, you can write in simple, low-priority reminders to pay bills, change the sheets, or send follow-up emails on a daily basis. You can also use calendar apps to track your goals and schedule meetings as per usual.
At the end of the day, a calendar keeps you accountable. That’s a huge step up from simply listing your goals without any sort of deadline.