How often do you sit down before bed at night and think to yourself that you are exhausted, yet you feel like you accomplished almost nothing in your day? How many of us feel like we have lost control of our day? How many of us are frustrated over this lack of control and feel like we aren’t living the life we imagined?
According to Tony Robbins, a great motivational speaker and life coach for those who want to gain control of their lives and businesses, we all have six basic human needs. Growth is one of the greatest human needs whether in business or our personal lives. Mr. Robbins puts it quite bluntly, if you are not growing, you are dying. However, in today’s society of emails, social media, text messages, phones tied to our ears, smart watches, computers, tv’s, electronic personal assistants, etc. we are constantly bombarded with alerts, reminders, and other distractions. These distractions often block our personal and professional growth because we are constantly moving our focus from one thing to another. We are forced to put our focus on small unimportant matters that keep us from the important matters that will help us grow. How often do you have a big task that needs to be completed, but you can’t get off of your email or phone long enough to complete the task? Despite our better efforts, humans are terrible at multitasking. As such, we have two options: 1. Regain control of our day, or 2. Give in and live constantly distracted and frustrated.
For those who want to regain control of their day, there is a system to help get your started. Popularized by productivity expert Craig Ballantyne, there are 3 “Cs” to a successful, productive, and controlled day. He adapted this concept from the ancient philosophy of Stoicism. The 3 C’s are: Control, Conquering, and Concentration. As Mr. Ballantyne would put it, we must Control what we can, Conquer the daily chaos, and Concentrate on what really matters. I like to think of the 3 C’s as Control, Coping, and Caring. I.e. Control what you can, Cope with what you can’t control, and make time for what, or who, you Care about.
The first step to regaining control of your day is figuring out what you can and can’t control. Do you have control over things like when you get up, what you will eat for breakfast, when you leave for work, your calendar, what you do during the day, when you leave work? For most of us, these are things we can schedule and set as a daily routine. The goal is to schedule as much of our day as we can. The more you can schedule, the more you have control. And, while it may seem counterintuitive, the more you can control, the more freedom you gain. Through control, we can schedule portions of our day dedicated to accomplishing our to-do list. Perhaps you schedule the hours of 9am to 11am. During that time, you are singularly focused on 1 task. No need to answer the phone or check emails, because that is scheduled for another time of the day. Or, maybe you know that mid morning, you work best if you can walk away from your desk for 10 minutes. Schedule it and don’t skip it.
For all of those things we cannot control, we have to learn to let them go and cope with the distractions. This is simply described as “Go with the flow.” For those who work for someone else, you cannot control your boss calling you into his/her office for an hour. While that can be disruptive, if we have controlled the other aspects of our day, then this hour disruption will not stop productivity. We cannot control the person on the phone who won’t stop talking. So we control that time we allow for phone calls and cope with that person during that time. We cannot control the person who won’t respond to our important email. But, we can control other aspects, and be productive doing other tasks while we wait. Trying to control those things we cannot control is the #1 cause of frustration in our day. Identify those things, let them go, and you are on your way to a happier day.
If you read our post on 3 Steps to Living a Happier Life, you will recall that Step 3 is forming meaningful relationships. The third C is regaining control of your day and living the best days of your life is making time for those things, or people, you Care about. When we control our day, and let the things we cannot control brush off of our shoulders, then we have time to do what we want. No need to justify it, no need to feel guilty for doing it, you made time for everything else in your day, so you gained the freedom to do what you want to do. For the masters of this system, that even means putting away electronic distractions, if that is desired, because you’ve made it known that this is “your time” and you will schedule a call back or return email tomorrow.
Give this a try and see how it changes the way you feel at the end of the day. It takes some time to develop, so don’t get frustrated at first. There are thousands of systems out there to help you identify what you can control and what you can’t. Give some of them a try and find what works for you.