Do You Own Your Day or Does It Own You?

Simple strategies for being proactive instead of reactive to what comes your way each day.

Do you start the day by reacting to your alarm clock telling you it is time to move? If you are like most of us, the answer is yes. That first instance of being reactive, however, doesn’t have to set the tone for the rest of your day. Here are some tips to try over the next few weeks if you want to be the owner of your day.

  1. Avoid looking at your email and social media feed first thing in the morning

I know this is a tough one-especially if it has become a habit, but research has shown that if you want to be at your most creative and productive, you should carve out morning time to work on bigger projects and things that require all of your brain power and innovative thinking. When you plug into the deluge of communications coming at you, you are pulled into that rip tide and will find yourself reacting to so much of it. Before you know it, much of your morning will be used up replying to what others are saying instead of coming up with your own work and your own words.

2. Vow to only look at your email and social media at allotted times throughout the day

This seems ridiculously hard and possibly prehistoric in thinking, but it does work to allow you more control of your day. What works for me is that I don’t look at my phone until I am ready to work (if working at home) or ready to leave to go to work (if working offsite at a client location). Unless I am waiting for a particular email to come in, I won’t check again for 2 hours and every two hours after. Can’t wait that long? Make it work for you. Maybe every hour you will check email and text messages and on the next hour you will check your social media feed. Just slow the flow of interruptions to your work or day.

3. Ruthlessly evaluate invitations to events

Unless not attending an event would be a career limiting move or would mean that one or more members of your family would need therapy to navigate why you missed their big event, be extremely stingy with your time. My personal lens in evaluating also extends to: Will there be possible connections for my career and/or does it fulfill a personal passion? My personal passion is changing the world for women. Finally, if it is something that is sure to be fun-I am in and you should be too.

4. Be frugal on what types of screen alerts you sign up to receive on your phone

I only receive text messages and Breaking News alerts from two media outlets. I know some people whose screens get populated by every email that comes through. I am not sure how those people function. I would feel a lot like one of Pavlov’s dogs if I had the hundreds of emails that I receive coming across my screen and having that little bell sound accompanying each one pulling my attention to my phone.

Try these four strategies. They are simple in principle but hard to practice in our information driven world. Hopefully they will help you to manage your day and, dare I say, own it.