How to Seize More Control of the Daily Chaos In Your Life

Getting a handle on your time and creating an environment where you can work efficiently and effectively is the first step toward overcoming chaos and getting control of your work and life. It starts with taking stock of what you’re doing—or not doing—now. Once you know exactly what your day looks like, you can find the places where time is getting away from you. Then you can target ways to deal with it. It may be painful to examine how you really spend your day, but that information is invaluable when you’re trying to get more out of the limited hours available. It can also help you see where you need to make time for other things in life—like your family, yourself and your career.


There’s one skill that separates the top performers from the rest—the ability to prioritize their projects and tasks. You’re always juggling several projects and tasks, and you’ve become accustomed to the routine, but you need to stop and prioritize your most urgent projects in order to keep them on a manageable schedule. In reality, the object of the game is to avoid being constantly in “crisis” mode because a project just has to be done right now.

Maintain optimism and a sense of humor

One of the best ways to maintain optimism is to have “a focus of hope.” This means having goals that you strive toward with the hope of creating better conditions for you and for those around you.

Many of life’s endeavors involve a journey. You probably won’t reach your goal tomorrow. You’ll reach it over a period of time by working through a series of objectives and activities. The point here is this: Have fun and remain optimistic in the pursuit of your goal. Enjoy the journey. Some people become so obsessed with trying to achieve that they forget to have fun along the way.

Don’t waste downtime

Everyone wastes moments each day—some are self-imposed but others we have little control over—traffic tie-ups, for example, or long lines in banks, or being put on hold on the telephone. The good news is that we have control over our reactions. Instead of becoming frustrated, we can choose to use the time well and, in so doing, lessen the stress involved.

Try to reduce the amount of time you spend waiting (e.g., go to the store or post office at off-peak hours so you don’t spend unnecessary minutes in line; schedule appointments for first thing in the morning so the person you’re seeing hasn’t had time to run behind schedule). If you find yourself waiting, use that time to complete some of your smaller tasks.

Stop procrastinating

Remember the Swiss cheese approach to taming projects of the first magnitude? Poke holes in various parts of the project’s body and work on the small sections—without worrying about the project in its entirety. Don’t expect to complete a huge assignment in one sitting. But you can expect to finish a part of the project, barring unforeseen emergencies, of course. Projecting outcomes requires you to realistically assess how much time you can devote, in terms of both your schedule and your tolerance for the disliked task. If you set reasonable goals, you have a better chance of sticking with the work segment until you meet your objective.


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