To accomplish worthwhile tasks with enough time (rather than doing things last minute), it’s a good strategy to schedule multiple appointments with yourself to work on that project and make gradual progress.
This is how we build self-trust over time.
However, what if the appointment passes, and you didn’t work on that project as planned?
1. Ignoring the fact that you didn’t work on it.
2. Self-blame for having not worked on it.
Neither are healthy responses. Let’s talk about each. Then I’ll share my recommendations.
Ignoring your plan:
Each time you plan to work on something, but ignore it when the time comes, you are unfortunately practicing self-disrespect.
You know the project matters, and you planned to work on it at a specific time. It’s a promise to yourself… which you then break. You wouldn’t schedule with a client, and then just ignore the appointment, right?
This is essential to understand:
You are your most important client.
Nobody else’s career, health, relationships, or spiritual growth, has a more significant effect on your ability to experience life to its fullest — to fulfill your mission, to serve the world with your unique and valuable gifts. You are your most important client.
The next time you schedule with yourself, remember this.
How you treat the promises to yourself — your own schedule — is either building your self-trust… or eroding it.
Make a decision that starting today, you will treat yourself like your most important client.
A quick thought experiment — bring to mind an important client in your business right now, someone you highly esteem. If you are making an appointment with them, you’d be thoughtful about their schedule, right? You would come up with a time that works for you both. And then you’d prepare (logistically as well as emotionally) for that appointment.
It’s an important client, so you’ll show up to give the best that you can, no matter how you were feeling right before the appointment.
Your own calendar is like that schedule of your most-esteemed client. Give it the respect it deserves.
Yes, you are welcome to reschedule with yourself if needed, but to cancel it again and again is highly disrespectful to your best client — and your sense of self-trust.
If you keep pushing back the work on that project, you’ll either never do it, or you’ll do it at the last minute and thereby, miss out on the benefits of gradually working on it and letting your subconscious develop the ideas over time.
So be careful not to schedule with yourself so casually.
This is why I’m such a big believer in using Focusmate to work on any important project, bit by bit over time. With Focusmate, I’m not only scheduling with myself, but someone else is also counting on me to be there.
Another common response:
Blaming yourself for failing to follow your calendar.
The next time this happens, I encourage you to:
Take some deep breaths.
Let’s do another thought experiment — imagine that an important client has missed an appointment with you. They have sincerely apologized to you. Do you berate them? No, you would treat them with kindness. Then, together you would figure out how to schedule the next appointment at a time that is going to work better for them, to ensure they will definitely be able to attend.
Similarly, when you fail to follow your calendar — be gentle, forgiving, and then get curious. You are your most important client!
Don’t ask self-blaming questions. Instead, ask “What’s something I can do differently next time, to make it more likely that I’ll keep a self-made appointment?”
- Make your calendar more spacious — don’t bunch up appointments and expect to be able to keep all of them. Put more buffer time between appointments.
- Schedule a shorter appointment to work on a tough project, so that it feels more doable. For example, schedule a 30 minute block, rather than a 2-hour block.
- For some projects it might work better to schedule a longer appointment, not 30 minutes if it feels futile for building momentum, but a 2-hour appointment to work on the project so it feels more doable to you. The key is — start your work at the time you committed. Treat your appointment like you would your best client. Show up on time. Again, try Focusmate. I use it several hours a day.
- If you’re feeling intimidated by the project, try starting your appointment with an energy/emotional-upliftment practice that works for you. I do what I call an energy reboot.
- At the beginning of the appointment, write down the doable steps for the project, so that you don’t feel anxious about it. Then just calmly and joyfully start taking those babysteps.
If you keep missing appointments with yourself, this means you need to make each appointment a bigger deal: start with only 1 appointment with yourself per day. Or even just 1 weekly appointment with yourself to begin with.
Practice keeping that regular appointment with yourself, and then add more as you develop this muscle of keeping self-made appointments.
I used to not be able to do this. And then I practiced, got curious, and practiced some more, using the techniques above. As a result, I now produce far more work than I used to, because I schedule time to do it.
“I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.” Somerset Maugham (one of the highest-paid authors of his era)
Ultimately, you need to be a student of your own energy and productivity. Learn how to schedule with yourself, and keep practicing and tweaking, until you are also able to be creative even within a schedule.
Be gentle on yourself always, yet continually dedicated to the process of growth.