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Feeling Overwhelmed? Here Is How to Take Back Control of Your Time

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Alan Lakein said that “time equals life; therefore, waste your time and waste of your life, or master your time and master your life.” In today’s busy world, excessive commitments on our time and energy leave us frazzled and distracted. When we’re overwhelmed, it’s often because we’re swamped with busyness, overloaded with responsibility, and out of control of our time.

M. Scott Peck reminds us that “until you value yourself, you will not value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it”. In light of this, when was the last time that you paused and checked how you spend your time? Do you control your time? Or do you allow everyone else to control it?

Controlling and managing your time effectively is vital. It helps you to prioritise and focus on what’s important each day. It also helps you to manage yourself and set boundaries with those around you. When you do this, you’re less inclined to take on too much, thereby, reducing the likelihood of feeling overwhelmed.

If you want to take back control of your time, start by using the six-step A-D-S-C-I-E™ process. This process can help you to regain control of your time, increase your productivity, reduce your stress, and make significant progress toward your goals. To get you started, here are the six steps.

Analyse

You can’t manage what you don’t measure. So, the first step is to understand how you currently spend your daily time. As Mike Murdock puts it, “The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine”.  Start by reflecting on the last two weeks. Write down everything that you can recall doing on each day, including your weekends. This should include both personal and work-related tasks and projects. When you look at how you actually spend your time, you get to see how busy you are. This could help you to understand why you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Decide

How you spend your time is essentially how you spend your life. In this step, it’s important to decide on how you want to spend your time going forward. When you proactively decide how you’ll spend your time, you eliminate unnecessary choices. This means that you’re less likely to suffer from decision fatigue which often leads to feelings of overwhelm. Look at the analysis that you did in step 1. What do you want to keep doing? What do you want to do more of? What do you want to eliminate? Actively prioritise the activities that you want and don’t want in your life.

Schedule

Now that you’ve decided how you would like to spend your time, make room for it in your daily schedule. Add all your priorities to your calendar and/or to-do list. If it’s something that you need to do daily, weekly or monthly, make it a recurring task. Use time blocking to schedule specific blocks of time for different activities, tasks, and projects. This helps you to create structure and maintain discipline to stay on track throughout the day. It’ll also help you to avoid switching between tasks since this fatigues your brain and can lead to overwhelm.

Communicate

Now that you’ve committed to your priorities, it’s time to communicate them. You don’t have to tell everyone you know but you do need to tell those who are directly affected. When you communicate your priorities, be open to feedback and making adjustments, if necessary. The more vocal you are about the changes that you’re making, the more others can understand where your priorities lie and make their own adjustments.

Implement

You’ve scheduled your priorities and you’ve told everyone that needs to know about it. Now you get to experience the change to which you’ve committed. Bear in mind that feeling overwhelmed and being busy has been a habit for you. Therefore, you may need time to adjust to your new priorities. As you implement your new schedule, make notes of what’s working for you and what’s not.

Evaluate

It’s important for you to reflect at this stage. Alexis Carrel reminds us that “the most efficient way to live reasonably is every morning to make a plan of one’s day and every night to examine the results obtained.” At the end of each day and each week, consider whether the changes that you’ve made are helping you. Have you noticed any difference? Do you feel less overwhelmed? Make adjustments where you need to. If you feel as though you’re still taking on too much, consider outsourcing some responsibilities. This will free up your time and allow you to focus on priorities that need your attention.

Controlling and managing your time can significantly impact how you cope with personal and professional demands. Remember, it’s not about finding more time, but rather, effectively managing the time you have. You get to decide how you’ll spend each minute of your day. By controlling how you spend your time and energy, you can create a life that’s focused and calm.

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