CJ Chilvers has been a very consistent advocate for giving your calendar a greater priority than your to-do list. Or, rather, for making your calendar be your to-do list. He talked this week about an issue that blocks people from making this type of change:
How do you track all the actionable stuff in your life that you can't schedule?
His solution is to put everything into an inbox. Everything that is important enough gets on your calendar. The rest just needs to be processed regularly (and part of the process might be ditching ideas or tasks that just aren’t important enough to get some of your time).
I like the idea to a degree. I do have items that make my to-do list (whether on paper on digital), but that are a lower priority. There’s a very good chance they do not get completed. That’s only a non-issue as long as I keep my thinking in check. If those incomplete tasks cause anxiety, I know things are slipping. I have to be ok with the idea that habits and core projects take precedence and some tasks can be left behind.
CJ alluded to this nicely in another post this week, one where he reflects on an issue raised by Jason Kottke. His summary:
Your life can be filled with endless tasks and the anxiety of not knowing whether you'll have the time to complete them, or you can ensure there's whitespace for the balance between play and work by building it into your habits and calendar.
My habits and my calendar … these are the two items that are getting the most attention from me most days. My task lists get about 10% of the time of my weekly review. I spend far more time reviewing my habits and mapping out my days (and this work is done mostly by hand).