The Best Tool In My Toolbox


By Phil Harwood

We all have our favorite tool in the toolbox--our “go-to” option that we know and trust to perform for us. I know you’re thinking about what yours is right now. The best tool I have in my toolbox is not what you might expect.

Once, during a round of golf, it seemed like every club was against me except my favorite club--my 5-wood. I cracked a joke about using my 5-wood for all shots and then proceeded to do just that. I teed off with my 5-wood, hit an approach shot with my 5-wood, got out of the bunker with my 5-wood, and even putted with my 5-wood. When all else fails, we retreat to what we know works for us. 

In my professional toolbox, the best tool I own is my calendar. What’s interesting about this is that every one of us has a calendar on our desktop computers, laptops, tablets and on our phones. If you use online productivity tools, your calendar is on the cloud, accessible from anywhere and everywhere.

However, many professionals fail to use their calendars in a meaningful way. Some do. In fact, I’ve seen some power users using features I had never heard of before. But many don’t use a calendar at all, or if they do, it’s only to keep track of upcoming doctor appointments and birthdays. This is a huge missed opportunity in my estimation. 

There are several reasons why my calendar is my best tool. First, it forces me to plan my entire day, every day. It forces me to answer some great questions like:
What do I need to accomplish today?
What are my priorities? 
Is there anything I’m missing? 
Is this a reasonable plan or am I overly optimistic?

Second, it clears my mind. Instead of trying to remember a bunch of details, I’ve moved these details from my mind to my calendar, giving me peace of mind. Now I can focus on what I need to focus on and not worry about what’s next on my schedule. I can be more present, more attentive, a more active listener, a better coach, a better leader, a better husband, and a better father. 

Third, it provides a documented record of my activity. Ask me what I did or where I was on any given date or time and I can tell you just by looking back in my calendar. Every day I can see what I’ve accomplished, then reschedule incomplete tasks. This helps me immensely to limit things from falling through the cracks. Occasionally they still do, but I think most people who know me would say that I rarely miss something or show up late. I’m not a superhero; I just use my calendar. 

Do you feel overloaded with all sorts of tasks, priorities, and deadlines? Are you often missing appointments, forgetting details, or showing up late? Maybe you just need to be using one of the best tools in your toolbox--your calendar! has a course called Effective Time Management, which outlines a great time management system, including the use of a calendar. I highly encourage you to check it out. 

Now go forth. 

Tags: Time Management , Calendar , Tools , Deadlines ,