Calendar Reality Check©

Some time ago, I wrote a blog on the topic of commitment and priorities. My premise was and is that our problem is not one of priorities but of commitments. We try (unsuccessfully) to address all of our competing priorities, when the solution may actually lie in making more clear and intentional commitments. That’s all a part of waking up as leaders and making more conscious decisions in every part of our lives. And yet, perhaps there is a different lesson to be learned about or from your priorities—more specifically, from your calendar.

I was having dinner with a friend not too long ago and, as is often the case, our conversations turned to deep topics—what’s working or not working in our lives and in what ways we could change our lives and our outcomes. We were talking about the concept of being busy, a favorite of mine, and the many ways that people use a lack of time as an excuse for not getting things done, not doing what they say they want to do and not meeting personal or professional obligations. I fancy myself to be fairly aware and discerning, but I certainly have my blind spots, and my friend that evening nailed one of my blind spots dead on.

In the midst of the conversation about time, priorities and commitments, he said, “Let me see your calendar.” I thought he was kidding, but he repeated himself and asked to see my calendar on my phone. I asked him why, and his answer was the painful moment: “Because when I look at your calendar, I’ll know what’s important to you—including what’s most important.” He followed that up by saying that I could easily tell him what’s important to me, but my calendar would show him what’s important. That was a cold, hard truth to hear.

I thought I was doing pretty well at investing in alignment with my priorities, but that calendar reality check showed me otherwise. As difficult as it was to acknowledge, I was grateful for that awareness. While I still have work to do to get my calendar in true alignment with my priorities, it’s a great reminder that a quick calendar review for any week is the best way to find out what I think is important that week. It’s also a terrific trigger to help me make changes in my calendar and time investments so that my calendar accurately reflects my priorities.

The same is true for you. Your calendar—what you choose to do with your time and what you choose to say “no” to—is a direct reflection of your priorities during any given period of time. In other words, it shows what you have made important by giving it your time, thereby making it a priority. If there are things that you did not have time for this week, then the reality is that this week they were not important to you (or at least not as important as whatever you chose to do). It’s easy to defend yourself and argue that there are other reasons that you did not do what you said was important, but that’s merely an attempt to let yourself off the hook, and change happens when you own that hook.

Give it a try. It only takes a few minutes to review your calendar, but when you do and honestly assess whether or not your calendar reflects your priorities you give yourself the gift of awareness and thus the opportunity to change things. Is it time for your calendar reality check?


  1. Jeff Hasenau says:

    Love it! Of course the calendar works – I am usually afraid to share it. Thanks for putting this out!

  2. Herzl Ginsburg says:

    How do you envision further tailoring your calendar? Would you put down ‘Dinner with the family’, ‘Read a book’, ‘Family Time’, etc? David Allen in Getting Things Done talks of using the calendar only for events that must occur on a specific day at a specific time and not for more general reminders for the day or week. I am trying to think how your suggestion would/could work with David’s?

    • Herzl: I read David’s book and love his ideas. I would argue that this concept precisely follows David’s advice to put things down that must occur on a specific date and time. Each thing you listed would be more likely to happen if it was calendared and prioritized – dinner with family, read a book, date with spouse, time with kids. As soon as I or we say they don’t need a specific time and date, they usually don’t happen. As a friend of mine shared last week, his wife recently said to him, “You say yes to everyone except us.” Arrow of truth but it got his attention.

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