How To Not Lose Control

I don’t know about you but before I knew it, summer seemed to pass me by. One activity after the next popped up and took valuable time away from my personal and family time.

Sure, there were important events like the funeral of a great man from our church, a Five Iron Frenzy concert (thanks to them, my wife and I met), and other family activities. However, there were more than their fair share of interruptions and distractions.

I eventually felt like I was losing control. That I wasn’t able to do what I wanted to do.

You’ve been there too, right? Tell me I’m not alone!

You can regain control!

Image by Greg Westfall

Reflecting back on this summer I realize I need to get better at time management and getting my stuff together. If I don’t get better control over my time, my life will continue to be controlled by outside circumstances.

So, the question becomes: What can I do to not lose control of my time?

I think I’ve come up with some good answers. Let me know what you think at the end of the post.

1. Define your priorities: Most of the time we lose control of our time because we don’t have a clear sense of our priorities. We just kind of drift through life and do what comes.

The thing we need to do, instead of drifting through life, is to tell ourselves what really matters in life.

You may find that time with family, friends, and working on a side business are your priorities. Or you could have priorities like getting out of debt, finding a new job, or begin a savings plan.

Whatever your priorities are, define them and let them guide your time.

2. Create rest days: The biggest frustration of the summer was realizing I was being tossed around and I didn’t have rest days written into the calendar. Rather, I let events fill in the dates before I was able to claim them.

There’s power in resting. Our bodies and mind need rest to be in tip-top shape and to perform well.

Make sure you’re scheduling in days and times of rest. Heck, even God rested after creation. If He needed rest, how much more do we need rest?

3. Learn to say no: We know we can’t say yes to everything. And everything we say yes to means we’re saying no to something else.

You can regain control by putting your foot down and saying no rather than saying yes.

Saying no may hurt feelings for a bit but people will get over your no. You may not get over your compromising by saying yes to something that takes away from the important areas of your life.

I didn’t do too good this summer at keeping control of my time. I often let it slip through my fingers and be wasted on trivial matters.

That’s the past. That doesn’t have to be my future. Wasting time and losing control doesn’t have to be a part of your future either.

You can begin to regain control of your time and life by remembering what I shared in the post.

We need to set our priorities. We need to create days of rest. Last, but not least, we need to learn to say no.

Question: Which of these 3 areas do you need to improve upon?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • RcMaFitness

    Joe, you’re alone. I don’t have a clue what you’re talking about. — Kidding! 🙂 Well, actually I could do much, much better focusing on my priorities, keeping them straight, making myself impermeable to mundane distractions. In other words, I need to get to it — to each of those priorities w/a straight face & a smile! 🙂 Once more Joe, thanks for rebuking us on this lovely Friday, for ruining my weekend, lol! Smiling away, but mindful about your reminder, thanks!

  • Wow, wow, wow. I felt the exact same way this summer. Actually I was so busy, I didn’t notice it until things began to slow down. I looked at my goals and noticed I hadn’t been near as efficient as I thought. I bounced from party to vacation to meeting to vacation to exhaustion to more meetings, and the cycle continued. I am definitely implementing tactics next time I see my calendar begin filling up. Thanks for another awesome post!

    • Seems like we’re in the same boat then Derek. What could you have done better to avoid this?

      • I should have focused more on planning out my schedule. Being more proactive instead of reactive would have made a huge difference.

  • Defining priorities is an area I always need to keep my eye on. When I don’t do such a great job at it, I end up wasting time on things that aren’t important or productive.

    • I feel you Paul! What do you do to stick with it?

      • I have written goals. I frequently review them to make sure I am still on track.

  • Defining priorities is also an issue for me. – There is so much I want to do that I create my own overwhelming environment. – Which means I often decide to do nothing. I am improving on creating focus, but I need to be more diligent.

    • We all have that problem Jon. What are you doing to improve in this area?

      • It is pretty basic but I have to set a to do list for the week and weekends – It also means I have to let some of my “side” projects sit so I can focus on just one or two. Just because we have a great idea it does not mean we have to work on it now. – This is easier for me say than do

  • Hey, you need to move here to Hawaii where it’s always summer. You can get a do over! 🙂

    • Yeah, but you guys get hurricanes and lots of heat. I deal better in the cooler weather (-:

      • The hottest day it’s been here is 90 and that’s without the humidity you get in the midwest. Are you a fan of 7 months of cold and snow? Some are some aren’t I know. I lived it for 30 years, I’m done with cold weather.

        • Come on man, it’s not 7 months of snow and cold, at least not in Michigan. The snow typically hits after November and is done by March. 3-4 months of snow, I can deal with. As for snow, Elsa’s song from Frozen is a good mantra for me – The cold never bothered me anyways. (-:

          • In WI the snow starts in October/November and last year it snowed until April. So maybe 4 to 6 months. That’s too much for me. I love summer all the time. I’ll be able to run, bike and swim all year. And in WI in summer the humidity is unbearable, it can be 70 degrees and feel like 100.

            • Well I prefer Georgia – we only get one major snow / ice event once every 5 to ten years – All of us native Southerners stay home until it melts. – Granted we do have the humid summers.

  • Truth, for sure, Joe.
    LOL, I thought it was just me trying to be a single mom! (They grow so incredibly fast.) Learning to say No. That is huge fro me. “Saying yes to one thing is saying no to something else”-Boy and isn’t THAT the truth. The problem is usually I am saying no to my children and I. Sigh, yes, I need to focus on this as well.

    • Oh, ouch. While I’m not a parent, I can feel your pain in realizing that you say no to your children more often than you should. What’s one way you could work on that?

      • I NEED to stop working so hard. (sigh) For so many reasons, really, but they will always be my #1 reason. It is just.. well, my Dad needs me to work so much harder… if for no other reason than to keep him from doing too much. Not that he would ever suggest such a thing. LOL.
        But I wonder if I was not just given a warning.
        You know how strongly I feel that I was kept here, working, for a (His) Reason. Well, two nights ago- because I couldn’t sleep (RLS) I was walking around and found myself on the floor- I had some sort of a seizure. It only lasted minutes… but it was certainly a new kind of torment my body has decided to play on me.
        SLOW DOWN.

        • Oh no. That had to have been scary. Our bodies are strange machines and they can often do things to make us listen.

  • Hey Joe,
    these are exactly the categories I need to work on myself.

    I use the Getting Things Done system by David Allen, where I try to manage all my tasks. It’s tough to really put everything into the system, so from time to time I just remember tasks instead of having the system work for me. Big mistake…

    Every evening I outline 5 – 7 tasks that I need to accomplish on the next day, which seems to work pretty well. Sticking to that schedule however is a challenge for me, since I’m a freelancer and clients come up with fancy requests daily.

    Will need to learn, how to leave more “empty time” during the days to manage unexpected to-dos.

    Best regards,

    • Hey Jan! I’ve heard David Allen’s system is pretty effective. When you use it, does it work well for you?

      • It’s working amazing when I get to stick to it. When every task is handled in the system it really frees up my mind, so that I can focus on the task at hand and stop worrying about open tasks.

        But once I lose track on adding tasks to the system it fails. It’s a habit after all. Took me a few months to get used to it, but now I couldn’t imagine to live without GTD.

  • I needed to read this today! I’m learning to better say no to the unimportant so I can say yes to what I need to get done like finishing my next book. Great post!

  • Great post! I don’t remember where I heard this, but it’s worth mentioning: If you never say “no,” your “yes” means nothing.