5 secrets to harness the power of your calendar

If you’ve got a calling (a Big Dream, vision, goal, or project) that you’re not getting to — put it on your calendar.

Simply scheduling time for the thing you SAY is important to you is how to make it happen.

(And by the way, this is true even if your project is getting clear on what your big project IS.)

Here are 5 secrets you may not be aware of when it comes to the power of your calendar and how you use it.

Secret #1: Commitment isn’t enough.

Simply deciding to do something and hoping it will happen doesn’t fly. Yes, it’s important to DECIDE and COMMIT — but you also have to actually do it.

Show me the money, baby!

There’s far too much talking about what we want, and what we’re going to do (or why we can’t and it’s too hard). At the end of the day, doing it is what counts. 

Put it on your calendar.

Secret #2: “Your calendar never lies.”

. . . as Tom Peters says in his essay, “Pursuing Excellence” in the inspiring compilation book End Malaria, piloted by Michael Bungay Stainer.

What you SAY is important versus what you actually DO is telling about where you’re focusing your energy and setting your priorities.

If you want to learn to paint, for instance, you’ll need to make time for it. If you say that business development is key to moving forward with your creative entrepreneurialism, you’ve got to make a concerted effort to make that happen. If you want to write, you must make it a priority in your life and on your calendar.

If you’re not scheduling time for it, you’re not serious about making it happen. At least not yet.

Look at your calendar and see how it reflects your priorities — or not.

Secret #3: Make a divine appointment with yourself.

There’s something miraculous about scheduling time on your calendar for something important — it’s like making a sacred appointment with yourself. If you don’t show up, there’s a nagging sense inside that you’re supposed to be doing something else.

While nagging might generally not be a good thing, when it comes to your soul pestering you about fulfilling your divine calling, I’m okay with that.

Use your calendar as a tool to help you to get back on track with what you were put here to do.

Secret #4: Learn from what you don’t do as well as what you do.

When you don’t show up, you learn something about yourself and your project. You can test your commitment and ask, “Is this something I truly want to do, or is it something I think I should be doing?”

If it’s the latter, it’s time to reevaluate. A true calling is never a should.

If it’s the former, treat your lack of action as information and explore what would make it easier next time. Take a look and see where and how you’ve scheduled it — is it in the right place on your calendar? Is there something you’re doing beforehand that’s spilling over?

For example, I’ve learned that I have to write first before I do anything else. I’ve also learned that I have to go to the gym on the way home from taking my kid to school, or it’s never going to happen. This is about smart scheduling.

Pay attention to what’s working and what’s not — then make adjustments to make it easier.

Secrets #5: Discipline isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

I know I look disciplined to the outside world, writing weekly blog posts, consistently offering classes and programs, and screenwriting regularly. I gotta tell you, it isn’t discipline.

It’s a weirdly fascinating combination of calendared deadlines that are publicly announced and an inner knowing that unless I say I’m going to do something and make time for it, it ain’t gonna happen. I also make it much harder NOT to do it than it is to do it. More on that next time.

Use your calendar to inspire you to take action. 

Your turn

Share your thoughts. I always love to hear from you.




Coming Attractions

~> June 5th. My Spotlight Study Group completes. I’ve heard that there’s interest out there from others in participating in such a group — if that’s you, please email us to be notified about when/if I offer it again.

~> June 7th. Last day to register for the next 4-week session of my “Just Do The Writing” Accountability Circle. This is for writers who want help staying on track and consistent about doing their writing, day in and day out. http://JustDoTheWriting.com


What I'm Up To

~> Ongoing. Mentoring with screenwriter Chris Soth through ScreenwritingU. Working away on a new project before I tackle the rewrite of my first one.

~> Fall. Heading to Hollywood for a ScreenwritingU event to meet with producers and agents.

~> Sacred writing time. Early mornings and Fridays.

~> In between shows and books right now. I think I have Sex and the City: The Movie and Another Earth hanging around to be watched, but Scott Myers has me interested in watching (500) Days of Summer. So we’ll see what happens next. :)





  1. Janelle says:

    Love your article Jenna! Thanks for sharing!
    BTW… my child-like (immature) side couldn’t resist commenting on your 4th point… you said do do… : )

  2. Hi Jenna,

    I so relate to your article today about scheduling on the calendar and showing up to actually do the work (writing, exercise, whatever.) One thing that works for me is that I don’t allow myself to think about what is on my calendar, I just show up. I find that if I let myself follow my thoughts about my run in the morning, or about going downstairs to put my body in the chair to get my writing in, or even about getting the grocery shopping done before dinner needs to be started, I’ll psyche myself out. So, I’ve learned to ignore all that internal chatter and just do. I used to be amazed at how much internal negative chatter there was. But I’ve found that the more I didn’t take it seriously, the less volume it had. I find it very interesting how much my not-getting-thing-done was a mental game and started playing a different game with myself. It’s a little weird, but it works!

    • Nice! And somehow for me when I don’t think about what’s on the calendar, I find myself doing the Thing anyway.

  3. fredrica parlett says:

    I almost always write first thing in the morning. And if I can’t I do it later. But I am putting so much energy into the writing, other things that need to be done are not getting done. If I commit to just 1/2 hour tidying my office or making phone calls, it doesn’t feel too overwhelming. There are even creative activities such as piano that are slipping away. I’ll try putting some of these things on a calendar, see if it helps.

    • Cool, Fredrica. Let me know how it goes putting those slipping away activities on your calendar too. I agree. I’m putting so much energy into the writing, I’m working on layering additional things back in. It’s an interesting process.

  4. Of course I agree with everything you just said. In fact, I just put some new important things into my own calendar because I wasn’t getting to them. Now they are in the HAVE TO DO realm and they are getting done.

    • Well, you would, since I learned a lot this from YOU! :)

      It’s interesting how setting a target schedule is never a single act. It’s a constantly evolving creation. Kind of cool, actually.

  5. Ann Hodges says:

    I appreciate the ideas for making my calendar a dynamic presence in my life. I certainly use it often enough! But these ideas transcend the “to do-ness” of it and make it more interactive and supportive. I find the concept of time offers a fascinating peek into the very core of our beings. Thanks Jenna for shining a little light where it normally doesn’t shine and putting a positive spin on a tool we all use nearly every day but don’t necessarily like!

    • Glad it connected for you, Ann. I love what you said — that’s what I aim to do, so it’s great to know it’s landing.

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