The calendar is one of the most commonly used time management tools, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best. According to behavioral economist Dan Ariely, our calendars may actually be holding us back from achieving our goals. In the short Business Insider video above, Ariely explains that calendars are great for keeping track of meetings and events, but can make it harder for us to see the bigger picture and to complete long-term projects.
“One of the main villains in time management, surprisingly, is the calendar,” says Ariely. “The calendar doesn’t allow us to write everything on it, so what happens is whatever we can represent on the calendar takes precedence over the things we really want to do.”
In the video, Ariely, who is best known for his book Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, outlines time management strategies he believes are more effective than the calendar. In particular, Ariely recommends embracing feelings of “Cancel-Elation,” which he describes as the happiness we feel when an event we don’t really want to attend is canceled. Instead of forcing ourselves to attend events that bring us little joy, Ariely suggests becoming more attuned to our feelings of cancel-elation, and prioritizing events that make us happy over those that feel like a chore.
“Every time you get a request, think about whether you would be happy or disappointed if it was canceled,” recommends Ariely. “If you feel cancel-elation, don’t agree from the beginning.”
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