It's actually easier to work in crisis mode than it is to take control and responsibility. After all, when you're in the center of a bunch of activity it looks like, and it can feel like you must be very important. All these people are coming to you to look for direction. You must play a pivotal role. Or are all these interruptions and unexpected crisis a sign of something else? Perhaps these things are really a sign that you’ve forfeited your responsibility to take control of your time and your business and practice good time management skills.

If you’ve been operating this way for a while you’ve probably dug yourself a pretty big time management hole. You really don’t know what commitments you’ve made, what commitments you should make, what your next actions should be, and what your most important actions are. Consequently you spend your day shooting from the hip focusing more on low value activities than high value ones.

The only way to get out of a hole is to work your way out. For you this won’t be a quick fix that will instantly make up for the poor time management skills you’ve allowed yourself to develop, but you have to start somewhere. Pick one day even if it has to be a weekend and turn off your phone, don’t open your email, and shut your door to everyone and everything. Sit down and make a list of all your current commitments and the actions you need to take to fulfill those commitments. This list could be several pages so it’s probably a good idea if you start a new page for each main commitment and then list the actions to fulfill that commitment on that page.

At this point you don’t even need to worry about or think about organizing or prioritizing your lists. The purpose of this is activity to get you to actually identify all of your commitments. Don’t forget to include commitments you’ve made to organizations or associations. After you have a page for every commitment you can think of you may be surprised to see how you’ve allowed yourself to over extend. Now go through each commitment page and begin to estimate how much time each action would take and then how much time the entire commitment or project would take.

It’s only at this point that you can even begin to utilize some time management skills to regain control. Now that you realize the full magnitude of your commitments you can begin to make some time conscience efficiency and effectiveness decisions. Have you committed to things you shouldn’t have? If so, gracefully delegate or excuse yourself from these commitments. Don’t try to tackle everything at once that’s the kind of behavior that got you in trouble in the first place. Rather prioritize the actions you must take based on their relevance to what you want to accomplish. Commit to completing one to three actions each and every day. Make a commitment to yourself that your day doesn’t end until these one to three things are done. That way when you weaken and give in to the temptation to go back to your old fire fighting habits you’ll directly suffer the consequences because you’ll still have to finish those important things even if your day doesn’t end until 6:00 the next morning.

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