Your calendar is a shield, not a sponge!

Your calendar is the shield with which you defend your balanced life.  However, too often we treat it as a sponge for other peoples’ priorities.


In this video, Dr. Melissa Gratias gives three tips to use your calendar as the important time management tool that it is.


Don’t want to watch the video?  A transcript follows.






Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Gratias. I help overworked and overwhelmed people feel focused, balanced, and successful.


Today, I am here to talk about one of the two most important tools of time management:   your calendar!


Your calendar – that thing that you probably take for granted. Whenever you look at your email, it’s just there. It’s part of your email program.


Let’s rethink the calendar today.


Here’s how I would like for you to think about your calendar:


Your calendar is the shield with which you defend your balanced life.


But we don’t often treat it as such. We treat it as a sponge!


“I will soak up every little thing that everyone else wants me to do.


“I will just absorb it!


“My calendar exists to take up whatever people put on it.”




It is there to help you protect that precious 24 hours of every day that is a non-renewable resource. Your calendar is what helps define you as a person. It shows how you spend your time.



3 Ways to Treat Your Calendar as a Shield, Not a Sponge


Here are three things that you can do to make sure you are treating your calendar as a shield and not a sponge.


1. Be the first


First you should be the first person to put things on your calendar.


Don’t open a blank calendar (posted on Outlook) for everyone else to fill in, and then allocate whatever time is left to your priorities:


“Maybe I’ll eat lunch…


“Maybe I’ll run…


“Maybe I’ll see my kids..


…with whatever time other people leave me.”




You need to be blocking off that time first. You need to be the first person blocking off your lunches, because, hello!, nutrition is a good thing.


…and running is a good thing

…and opening rituals and closing rituals and desk time and creative time


…all those things are very important.


You need to be blocking these things off first before everybody else gets a hold of it and puts all their priorities on your time.


That is using your calendar as a shield.


2. Honor 80% of the time you’ve blocked off


As you probably have already guessed, it’s easy to block off time. What’s hard is to honor the time that you’ve blocked off.


The second way to treat your calendar is a shield is to honor the time that you’ve blocked off on your calendar. I’m not telling you to honor 100% of the blocked off time because nobody’s perfect, but let’s aim to honor 80%.


Let’s aim to honor 80% of that blocked-off time.  For example, if you blocked off time for an opening ritual five days a week, aim to do it at least four of those five days.


Let’s go for the 80! That is huge success. That can really help you transform how you spend your time and how you prioritize.


3. Audit your calendar regularly


To recap:  First, block off your time first before everybody else gets a hold of your calendar. Second, honor 80% of the time that you have blocked off.


The third way to treat your calendar as a shield rather than a sponge is to have, either at the end of every week at the end of every month, a calendar audit.


Do two things in this calendar audit:

  1. Have a retrospective look at the past week or month. Assess how you have spent your time. Ask yourself some important and difficult questions: Is it consistent with your values? Is it consistent with your goals? Is it consistent with what you should be doing in your position and the kind of work-life balance that you want to have? In the retrospective audit, you should ask, “Have I behaved consistently?”
  2. The prospective part of this audit is where you should be asking yourself: Am I set up for success to fix the issues that I found in the retrospective part? Can I do things differently going forward?


So, it’s a retrospective and a prospective audit of your calendar to make sure that you are spending your time the way that you want to be spending your time.


You are a warrior in the battle for your time. You are a warrior! Can you imagine going into war with a sponge?


Make sure that your calendar is a tool that you respect, and that you use to help you in your decision-making.


This is Dr. Melissa Gratias. If you like my videos, you will love productivity coaching with me.


Please reach out and send me an email. We will schedule a no-cost-to-you conversation where we will evaluate whether I’m the right coach for you. Let’s see if productivity coaching will help you achieve your goals.


In the meantime, my friends, be productive, but don’t be a sponge. Have a great day.


Love Your Calendar eBook

Are you ready to feel balanced and effective at work and in life?

Read my eBook Love Your Calendar…and be monogamous.

Dr. Melissa GratiasMelissa Gratias (pronounced “Gracious”) used to think that productivity was a result of working long hours. And, she worked a lot of hours. Then, she learned that productivity is a skill set, not a personality trait. Now, Melissa is a productivity expert who coaches and trains other businesspeople to be more focused, balanced, and effective. She is a prolific writer and speaker who travels the world helping people change how they work and improve how they live. Contact her at or 912-417-2505. Sign up to receive her productivity tips via email.


  1. Lynda Dennis

    I love this insightful article, thank you for the encouraging advice.

    • Melissa Gratias, Ph.D.

      Thanks for your comment, Lynda.

  2. j.s.

    great info
    thanks for sharing

  3. Julie Bestry

    What about a Mr. Clean sponge? He looks like he’d be pretty mighty in battle!

    But seriously, Doc, this was entertaining and right on the money. I love the idea of doing a calendar audit. Which means, of course, putting the audit on the calendar. Oooh, you’re sneaky!

    • Melissa Gratias, Ph.D.

      A loofah can look pretty scary, as well. Hmm. Perhaps I should rethink the ferocity of sponges…


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