One of the biggest mistakes that professionals try to make in their ongoing quest for efficiency is lumping together too many useful tools into one application. There’s a reason why specific organizational items like calendars and to-do lists operate separately, and that is because the goals of their methods of organization are different. Instead of using one or the other as a solution, the goal should be for people to effectively learn how to deal with both, so that way they are prepared to deal with a heavy schedule without dropping anything.
Keep Each to Its Own
The calendar is great for keeping track of deadlines and commitments. A to-do list gives you an organized item-by-item checklist of things that you need to manage to keep your work and personal life balanced. When you try to mix them, you can wind up with mistakes. For example, if your calendar has scheduled everything you want to do, then that means you need to put in planning, work, and delivery phases for everything—even personal items like planning a vacation. This can be a lot of extra work to manage.
On top of the extra work, that kind of management also tends to fill a calendar to the brim, making it harder and harder to flex when things change or to give yourself the down time that is needed to manage stress. By keeping them separate and using the calendar just for your deadlines and commitments, you keep your work time more fluid and have more opportunity to take care of yourself without dropping anything.
Coordinate Task Items and Deadlines
Nothing says you can’t move items up and down your to-do list. It’s also a good idea to keep a list with several categories, so you can mark time-sensitive items, personal items, recreation, and so forth separately. That way, you can give yourself variety throughout the day as you work on scheduling. It’s a great way to help yourself organize the work that needs to be done without overscheduling, and it also ensures that you are using both of these great tools together instead of trying to make one into a monster conglomerate.
Getting used to new productivity tools often takes some adjustment, but with the right attitude and practice, it becomes easier than ever to keep yourself managed and on-task when you master them. That’s why it is important to use both a to-do list and a calendar when organizing your activities.