Safeguard Work-Life Balance By Using Your Calendar as a Shield

Safeguard Work-Life Balance By Using Your Calendar as a Shield

I tell my clients that the tools of time management have not changed in thousands of years. The first and most important of these tools is a calendar.

Whoop dee doo, they say. A calendar. Is that really the best you’ve got, Dr. Melissa?

Yes, I say, but stick with me. It’s going to get more interesting.

Most of us take our calendars for granted. Calendars are just a piece of most email management programs – like a free car wash at the gas station. We put our appointments on them and go about our lives.

But what if your calendar could be more? What if your calendar was the shield with which you defended your balanced life?

Let me tell you a couple of stories to show you what I mean.

The Un-Calendared Artist

In 2014, I worked with a successful artist. Trey loved what he did, but not as much as he loved his wife and two boys. Being the creative he was, however, he had never in his life used a calendar.

Trey’s life changed when his wife was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. Suddenly, he was facing the possibility of being a single dad.

His wife had always been the one to keep the family on track and made sure that everybody got where they needed to be.

So there was Trey, feeling like his creativity would be squashed by a calendar. And he was sitting face-to-face with a productivity expert telling him that he would not be able to manage his life without one.

But then something interesting happened.

Trey entered the boys’ soccer games on his Google calendar. Then, he entered his wife’s medical appointments. Then, he entered an appointment with a realtor. Then, Trey turned and looked at me with tears in his eyes.

“This is the most liberating thing I’ve ever done,” he said.

For the first time in his life, Trey learned that a calendar is more than a collection of appointments.

It was a testament to what was important in his life. It allowed him to remember things without having to ask his sick wife what came next.

In the midst of the pain and stress of his wife’s illness (she recovered, by the way), his creativity was enhanced. That simple Google calendar allowed Trey to be the father and husband he wanted to be.

The Young and Arrogant Business Executive

She was 29 years old at the time and on an airplane for Kansas City to coach two executives in her company.

She felt pretty important on this business trip and confident about the mission she was given. “Melissa” (cough, cough) was reading a book by Stephen Covey as the plane took off.

Yes, this is my sorry story.

As I was reading, I came across a specific passage. In it, Covey asserts that your calendar is an outward manifestation of the things you value at the core of your being.

I thought about my infant daughter and loving husband as I opened up my trusty Franklin Planner to take a look. I wanted to see what my calendar said about me.

The realization was a slap in the face.

If I were an FBI profiler looking at this calendar, I would have concluded that the woman who owned it was a single workaholic with no kids.

The people I loved the most were not represented in how I was allocating my time. It was a brutal realization — but an important lesson that I carry with me today.

My calendar showed me the gap between my true values and how I was spending my time. It continues to keep me honest about my priorities.

A Call to Arms

You have a very powerful tool at your disposal. I’ll say it again…

Your calendar is the shield with which you defend your balanced life. Click To Tweet

Look at your own calendar with the eyes of a stranger. What would you conclude about that person?

Think about what the phrase “balanced life” means to you. Does your calendar reflect that?

If there is a gap between the life you have now and the life you want, the answer may be found in your calendar.

It reminds you how you are allocating your most precious and limited resource you have while you’re on this planet:

Your time.