The Daily Heartbreak of Failing My Calendar

There is so much I want to do, and only so much time in the day. I’ve gotten really good at using my calendar for managing a lot of projects at once. However, I’m consistently falling short of getting everything I have scheduled done in a day. I might book 10 things to do, and only finish 7. That is still pretty good. I can just move the scheduled items to another day and time. The only problem is I can’t help but feel like I am failing each day.

arrows missing targetThe weight of incompletion

No matter what I accomplished, all I see at the end of the day are the things that are left over. Small failures that really don’t matter that much individually, but add up to a life of falling short a little every day.

What I’m doing wrong

All my reasons why I don’t get everything done boil down to these two things:

  1. the amount of time I scheduled is insufficient to complete the task;
  2. I ignored my calendar.

Both of the items listed above have an easy solution:

  1. set aside a more time for things;
  2. don’t ignore my calendar.

But it’s not that simple. It’s difficult to be honest with myself about my own limitations as I’m scheduling tasks.

Two out of three ain’t bad

A few years ago, I tracked everything I scheduled and kept a record for months of my progress. I was averaging 65-70% complete per day, regardless of how much I tried to pack in or how open I kept my calendar. If I booked in 14 things, I might finish 9. If I scheduled 3, I’d likely do 2.

What I decided was that it’s best to schedule more, so that I’d complete more. But why can’t I just do everything that is on my list and enjoy the peace of mind that would come with that?

Competing factors

There are other factors competing for my time. Some of them really matter to me. If a family member calls me with a request, I’m likely to drop what I’m doing because family is more important to me. I also have housework, dinner to prepare, shopping to do, and fun distractions like unexpected conversation with friends. Even good weather is sometimes reason enough to set aside my calendar.

The biggest competing factor is often invisible. It’s how I feel. I might have a lot done so far, and feel like I deserve a break. Or I might be tired and want to veg out on the sofa.

Balancing competing factors while being honest with myself about what I will actually do is the hardest part of effectively managing my schedule.

So what’s missing?

I’m looking for advice here. What do I need to do to reliably plan my day? Or, should I just accept that some things won’t get done and be okay with that? Please let me know what you think.

Author: Peter Benes

Ui Designer and Songwriter in Kitchener-Waterloo, Canada

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