How I Ditched To-dos and Use Google Calendar to Manage My Life

Edric Subur
7 min readSep 19, 2016

I love to-do lists. They help me remember what I need to get done and give me a good dopamine boost when I cross things off them. I’ve tried using all sorts of tools to create to-dos from actual notebook to digital notebook and fancy software such as Trello, To.Do and Clear.

Recently, I’ve given up on all of them.

Those tools do a great job in storing tasks and organizing mind. But there is one big problem: they don’t allow me to set and commit a time to do the tasks.

As a generally optimistic person, I always overestimate how much I can get done. My typical relationship with to-do lists went like this: I thought of tons of things to do for the day, threw them into my list, went through it during the day and arbitrarily picked the one I felt like doing. Shoot for the moon because if you miss you’ll land among the stars right? The problem with that is my important tasks get unprioritized. I kept telling myself I would do them later until those laters turned into unending tomorrows. Because there were no start and end time set in place, I did not commit to the tasks and before I knew it, the day had gone by with many tasks left uncrossed.

The intermittent occurrence of failing the promise I set to myself, weeks after weeks, made me feel shitty about myself. That’s why I decided to ditch the to-do apps and look for a tool that not only can let me list tasks but also set in stone when should I start and end each task.

And I thought of Google Calendar.

I’ve used Google Calendar for a couple of years to keep track of my events and appointments. When you’ve set an appointment on Gcal, you’re bound to make it happen because 1) The time has been set on your calendar in advance so there’ no excuse to miss it 2) You respect other people’s time.

And one day my lightbulb popped: if I could respect other people’s time, why can’t I respect my own time? Hell, why don’t I start creating appointments with myself! Why don’t I plug my tasks into my calendar, creating a time block for each task, one at a time?

So I did that and fast forward a couple of months, I can’t be more pleased with the results:

  1. I set realistic targets for myself