Either you run the day, or the day runs you - Jim Rohn
Often, how you spend your day comes down to a choice you make before your day even starts. You can choose to take a few minutes before the day starts to plan your appointments, identify the items you need to accomplish and control the flow of your day. This is a proactive approach to running your day.
Or you can choose to "wing it", react to each new task as it pops up, and be subject to constant interruptions while bouncing from task to task with no concrete direction. This is a reactive approach, or letting your day run you.
We have all been guilty of having days that have run us, and sometimes despite our absolute best efforts, a day sneaks in there that causes us to be reactive instead of proactive, due to circumstances outside of our control. But those days can be few and far between by being proactive
and with proper planning.
It’s happening more and more that when I ask people how their day is going, they reply, “Extremely busy”, “hectic”, “super-stressed” or “running around like crazy”. Their day is clearly controlling them.
But it could be the other way around!
In order to take control of your day, it’s important to have tools in your toolbox to do so.
Block out your time.
You have to create the time, if you're waiting to "find" the time, good luck with that! The easiest way is to put it on your calendar, no matter what type you use. If you feel you just don’t have enough time during the day, consider getting up and starting your day earlier.
Create a system. I don't have a "to do list", I have a "to do system."
Setting up all your "to do's" with a simple system, and then biting them off one at a time is the key to less stress about how much you have to do, and more of just getting to what is front and center TODAY.
Plan your day, just TODAY.
That means asking yourself what MUST be done today, and then starting there. Getting realistic about what you MUST do each day takes the pressure off a laundry list of "to do's". One day at a time, living in the moment, staying focused and feeling success at the end of each day. That's the goal.
Share your plan with others.
If turning off your email notifications and only check it once an hour will help you stay focused, then do that, and let others know you are doing that. As well, letting calls go to voicemail is not a crime. When you respond instantly to every phone call, every email, every text, or every Slack or Teams message, everyone will then expect you to. Then you're doomed if getting work done is your ultimate goal. Others might not always be happy with your plan, but after a while, they will begin to respect your time. And may even follow suit!
Evaluate how your day went.
Set aside a little time at the end of the day to review what you’ve done, see what's on tap for tomorrow, and call it a day. There is nothing like ending your day feeling satisfied.
There is a saying that is: "Routine Sets You Free." This is actually true. When you create habits out of all of the previous steps, your days will be less stressful, and more rewarding.
This is a great starting point. You don’t have to do everything at once, but at least make a start. Begin with things you can easily master, and slowly build your toolbox. After all, if you don’t have a plan for your life and priorities, someone else will.