June 2020 • DALLAS MEDICAL JOURNAL 15
The Schedule Hack is a process to
ensure you always have your Life Calendar
in your pocket or purse – without having
to purchase or learn any new technology.
It takes only 20 minutes a week. This is
the first step in showing that gorilla some
Schedule Hack materials
1. The paper calendar you have hanging
at home on the side of the fridge. If you
don’t have one, they are very inexpensive
and just the tool for the job.
2. Colored pens
3. Your cell phone
SCHEDULE HACK PROCEDURES
STEP ONE: Build Your Life Calendar for the
Choose a time in the week when
everyone in your family or household is
available. A popular time is on Sunday
after church and before football. Pull that
paper calendar off the fridge, grab the
pens, and put them all on the kitchen
table. Gather everyone in the household
and build your Life Calendar for the week
What do you want in your life, outside of
medicine, in the upcoming week? Remember,
if you don’t put it on your Life Calendar
right here and now, it almost certainly will
• Workouts, massage, mani/pedi
• Free time
• Coffee with an old friend or a relative
• Time to read a book
• A class or hike
• A date night
Whatever you want, you must put it down
on the calendar. Do it now.
The last thing you put on the calendar
is the date and time of your next Schedule
Hack session. Everyone needs to be clear
on when you will meet again. If I meet
you in the street and ask you to show me
your Life Calendar, it must have your next
Schedule Hack session on it – agreed?
STEP TWO: Take a Picture of Your Life
Calendar with Your Cell Phone
Yes, it really can be that easy. Your Life
Calendar can now be in your pocket at all
times right there on your cell phone, probably
just a push of a button away from your
STEP THREE: Defend Your Life Calendar
Now you are prepared to say the twoletter
magic word of work-life balance. That
word is “No.” You will benefit from practicing
saying “No” in front of a mirror until
you are comfortable with a phrase or two
that work for you.
With your Life Calendar in hand, if someone
at work asks you to cover a few extra
hours on Thursday, you can pop your cell
phone open and say, “Hang on a second,
and let me check my calendar.” If you are
already booked, you can say, “I’m sorry, I
have another commitment at that time. I
won’t be able to help out.”
As you read the conversation above,
does it make you a little uncomfortable?
Most doctors stop breathing when I
demonstrate this bit of dialogue. We are
horrible at saying no. Our discomfort has
• We are completely out of practice at
saying no. That is okay. Saying no is a skill
you can practice. Remember, “Practice
• You don’t want to be perceived as not
being a team player. This is a variation on
the prime directive of never show weakness.
And let’s face it, you won’t always say
no, even if you have a conflict on your Life
Calendar. Here are several common situations
where you will most likely say “Yes”
• You owe this person. They covered
for you at an earlier date and you want to
settle the debt.
• You want this person to owe you down
the road, so you can call on that debt in
• You are not confident enough in your
ability to say no yet to give it a shot. Time
for more practice.
POWER TIP: Role-play with your spouse or
significant other. Have them be one of your
partners, perhaps the one most likely to
ask you to cover for them. You be yourself
saying, “No.” Rehearse until your spouse
or significant other gives you at least a B+
for your performance. Have some fun here.
Here is what will drive your discipline.
When you carry your Life Calendar, see a
conflict, and say yes anyway, you will know
immediately which member of your family
you need to get ahold of, apologize to, and
reschedule with because you just threw
your plans under the bus.
The Schedule Hack works every time
you use it. You will have a more balanced
week when you Hack your schedule than if
you don’t. This simple process also allows
you to live your life in alignment with your
complete circle of priorities. This is a key
source of happiness and fulfillment.
• Who are the people on your Life Calendar?
• When is a good time for all of you to
do the Schedule Hack together?
• If you need to buy a paper calendar or
pens, when will you do that?
• When will you do your first Schedule
Hack? How can you make it fun?
• What things will you put on the calendar
just for you?
• When will you practice saying no? (I