If you’re at all busy, time has a way of just filling up… either with commitments to other people, or with tasks that magically seem to expand and multiply to fill the time available. It’s important to be flexible and not schedule yourself every minute.
However, if you don’t proactively plan out some of your time, you will get stuck in a reactive pattern where the people and events in your life plan your time for you. To keep this kind of entropy under control, I make appointments with myself on my calendar.
Generally, my appointments with myself are 1-4 hours long, occasionally as long as a full day. I put them on my schedule and treat them just as seriously as I would treat an appointment with another person. For me, they are a huge help in actually taking care of myself and making progress on my goals.
While I had a corporate job, I generally had 2-4 appointments with myself a week during my time outside the office. Right now, my time is considerably less structured overall, so I work solely from my to-do lists more often and frequently don’t need this tool. However, I still schedule a self-appointment every few weeks, usually for something that is time-sensitive, must happen during very specific hours or that I feel is somehow not getting the right time or attention during the normal flow of my days.
Here are some examples of things you can schedule appointments with yourself for:
- Work time on a specific project (especially those important but not urgent projects that lack external deadlines)
- Work time for recurring, deadline-driven tasks (for instance, while I had a corporate job I had evening time blocked out for blogging)
- Time for exercise, a long hot bath or other self-care that tends to get pushed out to later
- Time for a neglected hobby
- Time to maintain your time/task management system and plan the next day or week
- Time that’s not allowed to be scheduled for anything (yes, I’ve really blocked that out on my calendar to preserve my sanity during especially busy interludes)
Once you make an appointment with yourself, honor it– treat it just like you would treat a commitment with someone else and don’t doublebook or cancel on yourself. If you do need to renegotiate because something else has come up, reschedule your self-appointment rather than simply not doing it. Once the appointment is made, remember why you made it and treat your commitment to yourself with genuine respect. You, and your priorities, are worth every bit of that respect.
Setting up appointments with yourself is a powerful tool to help you make conscious, balanced choices about your priorities and time management. One caveat, though – don’t overdo it! Your calendar is a tool to help you manage your time, but scheduling up all your time is neither realistic nor healthy. Use this technique gently and sparingly to help you get more done, not to plan out every minute you think you have. When used well, appointments with yourself can help you make powerful decisions about what’s important to you and commit yourself to truly devoting time to them.
Want some more tips on using your calendar effectively? Check out my previous post on helping your calendar to help you.
Do you ever make appointments with yourself or would you ever give it a try? Please share in the comments.