Over the years, I have developed a nearly fool-proof way of telling if a project I am working on matters to you or not. Or if I matter to you or not. Or, perhaps put a nicer way, a nearly fool-proof way to judge your commitment to a given project.
Want to know what it is? It’s pretty simple.
Did it get put on your calendar? Is it on your schedule? Heck, did you even write it down?
Because the things that matter to us are the things that get scheduled.
No, I didn’t completely change the focus of this letter to one of time management. We are talking about things far more important than your contribution to a given initiative at work – we are talking about what you give your heart to.
Two thousand years ago, Jesus of Nazareth said that where your treasure is, that is where your heart is. But for many of us today, our time is as scarce as our money – in fact, most of us, if given a choice between a slight raise or more time off would probably choose the time off. If you tell me what you schedule, I will tell you what is important to you.
I can tell you all day long that going on regular dates with my spouse is important to me and our relationship, but if I can’t tell you when the next one is scheduled, you shouldn’t believe me.
Calendars are integrity documents. They show our commitments and our priorities. I once had a mentor chew me out for being 10 minutes late to a meeting with him. I protested, saying I got hung up on something else.
“What you are saying is that you got hung up on something else. But what I am hearing is that the thing you got hung up on was more important to you than I am.”
I have never forgotten that.
Things that get scheduled are the things that matter.
A lot of the things I am resisting these days are the result of capitalism. So, I read business memoirs all the time, because I want to understand capitalists. (You can’t change people you don’t understand).
Almost all of them have very detailed, rigorous morning routines. Virtually none of them sleep late. Many of them take great pride on waking up early, going to the gym, and getting to work before anyone else does. Lots of them talk about strategic decisions around clothing (like this article about Obama’s productivity secrets and why he only wears grey or blue suits) or what they eat for breakfast.
In other words, they apply extreme care and schedules to their day, and their day is designed, purposefully, to generate the results they get.
Meanwhile, in most of the activist circles I hang out with, meetings don’t start on time, they run over, you aren’t sure if the guy leading the meeting showered today and we spend the first half of the meeting arguing about how the meeting will be run. These people don’t reply to an email, and they won’t hire anyone to answer it for them, and then say they can’t afford it, but somehow can afford artisanal food and laptops designed for graphic designers when all they do on them is type.
While we slept in this morning because we don’t want to be held down by the man, the man was up early, ate a balanced breakfast, and planned how to increase corporate profits by laying people off or shuttering a company. And he did that before we got out of bed.
Because he scheduled his time, he accomplished the things that are important to him. And we who oppose him must be at least as willing to do for the better world that matters to us what he is willing to do for what matters to him.
Really want to change the world? Buy and use a calendar.
Because the things that are important to us are the things that get scheduled.