Are You In Control?

In this fast paced world we’re constantly running from one task to another, trying to get the most out of the 24hours we’ve given ourselves to accomplish the numerous work, school, or personal related tasks we’ve so conscientiously written on our TO DO lists.

If you’re like me you might even schedule in tasks with specific time frames to help you stay on task. Usually this type of methodical time management is a great thing and helps us stay organized and accomplish what we set out to do, but there are other times when this can actually be a counterproductive thing.

Sometimes what can happen is that your schedule starts to control YOU, instead of YOU having control over yourself. How can we learn to recognize the signs and symptoms and what can we do to prevent it? Read over this list and ask yourself how many of these things you find yourself doing:

  1. You’re tired. You’re very tired, but instead of taking a nap or sleeping more at night you keep yourself awake by gulping down lots of caffeinated beverages. Sure it keeps you up for a while but eventually you crash, feel terrible, and probably spend way too much money on Starbucks than you intended to.
  2. You’re performing your tasks, the ones that you’ve scheduled, but you’re not FULLY engaged. You’re meeting with one client yet are worried about making it in time to see the next one. You’re trying to complete an assignment but your mind keeps wandering. You just can’t seem to focus.
  3. You’re looking at the clock every couple of minutes making sure you’re not lagging behind.
  4. You look in the mirror and don’t recognize the person staring back at you.

So what’s going on here? Basically our bodies are trying to tell us to SLOW DOWN! Here’s some steps we can take to prevent ourselves from being our own worst enemies:

  1. You are your first priority. Clients, school, work, family, etc come second. If you don’t take care of yourself, then you will not be there for anything or anyone else. This means getting enough sleep, eating right, exercising, and whatever it is you need to do to keep yourself healthy, both mentally and physically.
  2. Keep your TO DO list short and sweet with 3-4 MUST DO items. Don’t try to overwhelm yourself, or you will end up feeling discouraged and giving up. Also, feel free to modify it to account for unexpected things that may come up in the day, or based on how you’re feeling at the moment. If you’re exhausted, maybe its best to schedule in a half hour power nap and then proceed to the next item with FULL FORCE!
  3. Give things and people your FULL attention.
  4. Stop staring at the clock. If you give yourself 2 hours for example to complete an assignment, set the alarm for 2 hours, and then put the alarm/cell phone/clock/watch away! Get into “the zone” where you’re so focused on what you’re doing and working so efficiently, you’re not worried about anything else.
  5. Be spontaneous. If you’ve scheduled to do the house chores from 5-8 for example, and something really exciting comes up seize the opportunity! Stepping out of the ordinary and out of our routines can help us clear our minds, have fun, and then return to our normal lifestyles refreshed and rejuvenated with even more energy than before.

So who’s in control?

This is a guest post by my friend Anna Kravtsov. She’s a 2nd year Medical Student here at UMDNJ where I am getting my Master’s degree. She’s one of our top commentators here, so get to know her!

Posted by in Productivity, Time Management | October 17, 2007 | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumble | Print | 9 comments

  • http://www.lawrencecheok.com Lawrence Cheok

    Hi Alex,

    I have the habit of scheduling my tasks into my calendar too.

    The small problem I had was a little different; sometimes, I just don’t stick to it. I used to feel guilty about not sticking 100% to my schedule, but I’ve kind of gotten over it; and Anna’s post is a good affirmation that I am ok to be spontaneous sometimes.

    Great! Now I feel even better. Thanks Anna.

  • Anna Kravtsov

    Hi Lawrence. I’m glad you enjoyed my post. :)

  • http://healpain.blogspot.com Jennifer Mannion

    Hi Alex & Anna,
    GREAT post. AA topic I have been thinking about a lot lately. The balance of getting things done and taking care of myself is a tricky one. I’m on the right road and aware of it though so I guess that’s the start! This post helped me by reinforcing the practice of allowing time to relax and sleep as well as keeping my lists SHORT! Thanks! Gratefully, Jenny

  • http://www.publicspark.com Tina Fukuchi

    I really enjoyed this post. I think it’s important to be in tune with your body because it does tell you when there are too many things going on. I especially agree with the prioritizing. It is so important in successfully juggling a busy schedule.

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  • http://thinksimplenow.com Tina Su – Think Simple. Be Decisive.

    “Give things and people your FULL attention” This is what I’ve been practicing to do. I’ve found that when I am fully in the moment, I loose track of time, I become super efficient and effective at the task at hand. Thanks for the post!

  • http://cheerfulmonk.com Jean Browman–Cheerful Monk

    Good for you! To me, posts that keep urging people to do more are really urging them to fritter their lives away. My time-management system is simple…mostly it’s noticing when I have to write too many things down. If I have to look at a list to tell me what to do, I’m not clear about my priorities. When I’m doing work that I love life is simple and rewarding.

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