In a previous post, I shared how I manage my tasks with the To-Do Matrix, a system that helps to ensure that I focus on the top priority things each day. After sharing the post, I received a few questions about how to use the To-Do Matrix in the context of other commitments and chores in life. So in this post, I’ll share how I use our To-Do Matrix together with my calendar to manage my days!
To-Do Matrix vs. Calendar
At a high level, I think of the two as answering two different questions:
- To-Do Matrix: “What should I do today?”
- Calendar: “When should I do what I need to do?”
The post on our To-Do Matrix explains how to prioritize, elaborate and check off items depending on what you aim to achieve. This gives you a good idea of what you should do today (and in the near future) in order to advance towards your goals.
In contrast, your calendar will help you to figure out when during the day you can dedicate yourself to completing the tasks on your To-Do Matrix.
There are several types of scheduled items you can add to your calendar:
- Actual events and meetings that you need to show up for (physical or virtual!)
- Things you need to do every day at around the same time, such as picking up the kids from school or making food
- Blocks of time for work (when you work on the tasks on your To-Do Matrix!)
- Down time for yourself for self-care, dates, and so forth
For tasks or chores that you need to repeat, we suggest that you set recurring reminders or scheduled time for them. Examples of these are:
- Working out every 2 days (having this as a reminder instead of just having it scheduled helps — because you can check it off!)
- Watering your plants every 3 days
- Feeding your pet at a certain time each day
- Taking your daily vitamins or supplements
- Bedtime reminder e.g. Get ready for bed at 10pm (or 1am in my case!)
Use your calendar to add reminders for one-off items that may not belong on your To-Do Matrix. These tend to be items that are defined and quick to do. Some examples include:
- Picking up something from a store
- Scheduling a haircut
- Completing a bank transaction
The feature to use on Google Calendar is Reminder.
More Calendar Tips
There are a few other ways to make your calendar work harder for you. Here are some of the things that have worked best for us:
- Use different colors for scheduled time, recurring, and one-time reminders on your calendar. This makes it easy to see at a glance what your day is like.
- Set up shared calendars with your partners or family members so they can see what your schedule looks like without having to constantly ask you or figure out whether they can plan something with you.
- Be explicit with the task name that you are adding to scheduled time if it’s something especially important or high-priority; for example, when you are trying to structure a big project, you might add “Work on Project X” between 10am – 12pm over your regular work time schedule. Then you can go to your To-Do Matrix and start breaking down specific tasks that need to be done under “To-Do,” and add those that you want to work on later in the day in “Next Actions.”
- Explore new features on your calendar, such as the “Goals” feature on Google Calendar, which helps to automatically add scheduled sessions for goals like exercise, building a new skill and more.
What are some other techniques you’ve found helpful for getting your To-Do Matrix and calendar to work in concert? We’d love to hear your feedback and ideas — email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!