From an article on planning and time management that I recently read – “Either you run your day or your day runs you.”
The article wasn’t about trying to control things, which is good, because there is no way to be in control of the day; however, you can be in control of yourself…and that was the point the article made. It was about having the self-discipline to get up and spend some time thinking about your day and how you wish to spend it, rather than getting up, looking at your phone and immediately going into react mode. In fact the article specifically mentioned being disciplined enough not to look at your phone until you had created a prioritized list of the things that you want to get accomplished that day – call it a to-do list or a schedule or calendar.
When you eventually do look at the messages and news that have accumulated on your phone overnight, you will be able to slot any needed reaction to things you see there into the schedule that you have set for yourself. You may have to juggle the schedule a bit, but you still have an ordered and prioritized list of things that you want to accomplish. You are running your day, instead of the day running you.
Another piece of advice from the article was not to let “shiny things” distract you. Shiny things are those distractions that occur during the day that are attention grabbing and can cause you to wander seriously off course. For some it can be the little ding or musical notes or buzzing that indicates that a new email or message has arrived on your phone. Somehow, we have become trained to react in real time to the need of the phone for attention. Most of the time the attention-demanding message turns out to be spam or trash, but we have interrupted whatever we were doing to answer the demand of the phone for our attention. Other shiny things might be something passing by outside that catches our eye or someone entering the room. Whatever it is, if you let those things distract you from what you were doing the day is running you.
The key point in the article is constantly being aware of what you are doing and why. If you are aware of that, you will not let other things (distractions) take time away from the tasks at hand. You also need to be aware of those times when you have nothing on your schedule and decide how you wish to spend your down time. A popular term in our vernacular today to describe such a time that has no plan is “I’m just hanging out”. A person who answers the question, “What are you doing?” with that phrase is letting the day run him/her. You are basically saying, “I have no idea what to do and have turned off my brain.” There are always things to do. Things that you have been wanting to do. Things that you’ve been putting off. Opportunities to spend time with family or friends. You are in control of that down time.
If you are in control of nothing else, you do control how you spend your time. Don’t just hang out, letting the day run you…grab the day and run it.
Oops, gotta go…my phone just buzzed. I must obey. Ooooooh, shiny thing.