Take back control (of your diary)

27th June 2023

Do you go to work thinking ‘Today will be great. I decide what I’ll do with my time. I’ll succeed. I’ll have fun’.

Or is it more ‘Today won’t be great. Other people control what I do with my time. They control whether I’ll be successful; whether I’ll have fun’.

In other words…

  1. Do you feel in control of your work day?
  2. Or does it control you?

Too many people feel #2.

Not good.

That means that – without meaning to – you’ve delegated your chances of success and fun to other people.

BUT having more control = we get more of what we want = more success = more fun.

So, here are four ways to take back control of your day/success/fun (they’re easy to remember – they all start with D)


Your calendar (‘diary’) dictates what you do with your day. After all, you do the things scheduled in your diary. You don’t have time for anything else.

So, change your diary and you change your life. Use ‘START/STOP/CONTINUE’:

  • START – what do you need to do, to have more success/fun? START scheduling these in your diary
  • STOP – what’s scheduled in your diary that doesn’t contribute to success/fun? STOP them (yes, you might have to go to the boss’s boss’s boring meeting; but you can decline other stuff)
  • CONTINUE – keep the things that add value to you and others


Some of the STOPs you identified above do need doing.

But just not by you.

So delegate everything you can.

Delaying phrases

Your best-laid Diary Plans can be ruined by someone interrupting you, and demanding you jump on their ‘urgent’ request.

(When this happens, I’m always reminded of the sentence ‘Bad planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine’).

It’s easy to panic, and immediately do what they ask. But doing so means you’ve lost control of your day/success/fun.

So instead: identify now what words you’ll say next time someone does this. Something like ‘I can definitely help. But not today – I’m rammed. I’ll schedule it in for first thing tomorrow. You’ll have it back by tomorrow lunchtime’ etc.


As we all know, motivation and good intentions start you going. But they don’t keep you going.

So even if you start doing the first 3Ds, it’d be easy to drift back into old habits.

The best way to stop this?

Ask someone to hold you to account.

For example, when I want to embed new ways of working, I ask my PA Emma to check-up on me. Which she unrelentingly, consistently, always does. This makes it inevitable I’ll improve. All of which leads to…

Action Point

Today is a lovely, new work day for you.

Will it be epic?

Clearly, it’s more likely to be, if you have control of your success/fun.

So nail all 4Ds!!

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