Control of our lives is something we are supposed to strive for, but is it really possible to take control and do what you think is important? Is it just a case of making the Gods (or God whatever you believe) laugh?
Making plans means taking control
Is there another reason to take control? Maybe, but let’s talk about the need to take control if you want to get something done and can’t find the time. Hmm, writers have this problem all the time – finding time to write.
It’s like there’s a pocket of time out there and if only you could find it, everything would get done. We know that’s not real – if you don’t know that, please give me a call when you find the time.
If it was only about time, why would we need the word priority?
There are stories about successful executives who only do the top three things on their daily to-do and that’s it. There are articles about how to use your time more effectively. Some good tips on using less energy to get things done in this HBR article. And some great ideas in this article form John Murphy International about how to get things done when you’ve prioritized the list of things you have to do.
So if it is really only about time, you can find what you need with a simple Google search.
It’s about priorities and control over when you say yes
A big challenge for everyone is to say no. Control over what you do starts with that two letter word. How many of us feel as though we are able to say no? Is it considered selfish? Is it bad manners?
With all the baggage attached to no, perhaps we can flip it around and decide what we will yes to. Being positive about what you agreed to do gives you a sense of control. Just taking on a task, or duty, or whatever, is the fastest way to get snowed under with to-dos.
Practice the yes, and it can make it easier for your to get out the no.
Look at your list, and decide what you’ll do in the next couple of hours
I know this is hard when you have a list from your boss – will you lose your job by not doing something at work? Or from your family – will they still love you if you don’t make your famous cupcakes? Or your kids – will they grow up to be ‘normal’ people if you don’t take them skiing?
The key is that you need to decide what you have to do. Then you look at the potential downside. I tend to move things around my calendar to manage the priorities on my daily list. I ask myself these three questions.
- Does this really need to be done? if yes, go to question 2, if no, delete if from the list
- Does it need to be done now? If yes, do it. If no, reschedule it and go to question 3
- Do I want to do this? If yes, do it now! if no, do it right after you do something you want to do
My biggest downfall is the things I do for myself
If this relates to you, it can be as simple as not finding time to get a haircut, or as complex as not valuing your needs. I’m going to give you a tip based on the easier end of that scale – I’m not qualified to help people at the other end.
For me this is writing. It’s on the end of my list every day. I get to it, but it’s an evening activity. I went through a stage where it didn’t get done at all. At that point, I had to reassess why I wrote. I had defined it as something I wanted to do and really that wasn’t right. I needed to do it, I have lots of stories that need to be told. And I wasn’t doing it for myself any longer – I had readers. So now, I had a different understanding of the priority. It’s still an evening activity, but I rarely have an evening when I don’t do some writing.
The tip for today
Look at all the things you have to do. Look at all the things you want to do. Pick the top two from each list and schedule them to be done. Then do them.
Feel like you had some control?