Day 15: Your Life Is Spiraling Out Of Control—Here’s How To Fix It

Are you someone who works best under pressure or thrives in a stressful situation?

Do you take pride in your great multi-tasking abilities?

Do you find yourself surrounded with drama queens or people just like you who run full throttle until they puke?

Most important, are you someone who avoids pain or disappointment by “getting busy?”

If you find yourself rushing around with a packed schedule, glued to your phone or email (or both!), filling empty time slots with activities to keep you constantly moving, then not only do your fit the bill of a modern day urgency junkie, you are slowly killing your soul, draining your creative potential and taking years off your life.

Humans need variety, but if you crave excitement yet struggle to be present with the people in your life unless there’s something to do, you will find it almost impossible to enjoy the simpler things in life.

I have five kids, three companies and 20 ideas a minute.

Like you, my ability to multi-task is my biggest strength and my biggest weakness.  Without a clear map of my life’s purpose, I frequently take my eye off the happiness ball and fill the void inside with finding more to do…with achieving.

Excitement is essential in life.  But, if you seek it, crave it and only feel alive because of it, you are teaching your body to run on an unsustainable fuel that will ultimately kill you.  (It’s also a sure fire way to end up alone.)

Start and End Your Day With 15 Minutes of Quiet Time

This is much harder than it sounds if you are a true urgency junkie. But, as they say, fake it until you make it.

Waking up 15 minutes earlier, sitting on the floor, listening to a quiet song and simply breathing is the best 15 minutes you can give your life, soul, and mind.  Telling yourself it is okay doing nothing is your first step toward a more balanced life.

Be protective with this time.  It is your space to do nothing, so give yourself permission to do so every day.  Even if it starts as a to-do, turn it into a must! (As Tony Robbins says, “If you think you can’t, you MUST!”)

If you can’t get yourself to commit to this, find 10 minutes during the day to sit, lie down and just breathe.  If you need to step outside your office or escape a stressful situation, okay, but make it happen.  After all, you are a person who gets it done, right?

Get Rid Of Your To-Do List

Is there anything more exciting (yet depressing) than your daily to-do list?  Think about it—it’s the birds-eye view to everything you can do and everything you can be!  If you are a true urgency junkie, nothing is more thrilling than making a giant list of things to accomplish, then check off one by one.  To an urgency junkie it’s a sign of a life well done, right?

You can look at your list of crossed off accomplishments, give yourself a gold star and say, “Look at me…I got it all done.

What is it, though?  Think of that vision board (is it collecting dust on your to-do list?) and ask yourself what your day has to do with your life?  What things on this list actually keep you from the life you desire and deserve? Even if you can’t take it to that level right now, try focusing on the project you must finish, not the tactical list that goes with it.  You must get clear with what you put on your list, and have confidence that it fits into the mission critical tasks to do.  If you have more then three of those in one day, you are setting yourself up for failure as you die trying.

To ensure success, be honest with yourself about what you can reasonably accomplish in a day and do ONLY that! 


Don’t Start Your Day With Email

This is the single easiest change to make NOW that will transform your day into a more productive and you-centric day than ever before. Not only should you avoid starting your day by seeing if anyone else needs anything, but you should limit the time you email to one-hour increments.

Before the fire drill of email starts driving your day, point your morning toward doing what’s most important to you.  You’ll find your life less stressful when you first put on your oxygen mask. Because you’ve placed yourself first, before getting sucked into helping someone else, you can stay focused on your personal goals of creating a better life.

Take a baby step to the new you and try to accomplish one thing before you open your email.

Once you allow yourself to open your inbox, protect your day even more by creating electronic files of would like to do soon, to read and to do someday. Drag non-mission critical emails there, and give yourself one day a week to filter through the shiny pennies that probably aren’t worth the effort.  If they are important, add them to your day when it’s right for YOU.  This focuses you toward what is important to YOUR life.

By setting aside new opportunities until you are ready—away from the thrill of the kill, opening and responding—only the most important opportunities will migrate into your life.  Let’s face it, when adrenaline is pumping through your veins, everything sounds great.

The quality of your life is in direct proportion to the quality of your relationships.  Even if the relationship is the one you have with yourself.  On the days when you happen to get everything done, take an assessment of the collateral damage.

Who were you short with because they got in your way?

What relationship suffered the most in order for you to get it done?

What conversation did you half-listen to because you only had 30 minutes to cross off another action item?

Take time to listen to those people you care about most.  If you struggle making small talk, ask better questions.  Even if you are bored, if you ask the question, the answer is more interesting.  Make eye contact, touch them, or even yourself, as you speak, and feel your feet on the ground.  It’s a simple technique, but it will help ground you and make you more present.

Being present is a potent antidote for urgency.  Taking a chill pill is a good thing, for everyone.

See each day as a new day of discovering new methods of enjoying the little things that blow by as you feed your habit.  No quick fixes exist, but start your journey by setting boundaries with the time you give to busy work, and recognize when you crave an external fix to feed an engine already operating in overdrive.


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Lori Taylor is a direct marketing specialist and personal development writer. Follow her on Twitter.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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