Last Updated on March 29, 2020 by Corinne Schmitt
When life overwhelms you, it’s important to know how to get your life under control again. We can’t always stop the chaos, but we can rein it in!
No matter how organized I try to be, eventually chaos starts to creep into my daily life until it slowly takes over. Before I know it, the house is a mess, the kids are acting a little too entitled, and I forget an important event or deadline.
When things start to slip through the cracks, it becomes impossible to ignore that I’m floundering. That’s when it’s time to seize back control.
But at the point when you REALLY feel helpless, how are you supposed to do that? It’s actually a pretty simple process of hitting your life’s reset button.
I know this system works because I’ve used this technique many times! Since my family’s life is busy and complicated, chaos sneaks in a lot. And I’m going to share with you exactly how to get your life under control when it does.
How to Get Your Life Under Control
If your life is out of control, you’re juggling too much. This is a common problem for Wonder Mom Wannabes because we don’t like to say no when others need our help.
The truth is, you’re not helping if you can’t get it all done. To get your life under control again, you need to lighten the load.
If you can set aside an hour to devote to this system, then I can show you how to get your life under control again. You can’t breeze through the steps though, or skip the ones you don’t like. The system won’t work if you do.
1. Identify Your Priorities
The very first thing I do when I’ve decided to seize back control of my life is to sit down with a pen and a sheet of paper. On the paper I write down all of the things that are important to me.
If you prefer worksheets you can simply fill in, you can find some at the bottom of the post.
Keep your categories broad. Don’t list each of your friends or family members individually. Instead write down friendships, family, or relationships.
Other things that might be on your list:
You might have other items on your list. You’re not being judged or graded on it. It’s for you to visualize what matters most to you.
2. List Activities and Tasks
This is the most tedious part of the process, but it’s an important one. For each of your priorities, write down the main activities or tasks you do for each.
This list doesn’t need to be exhaustive, but should be an accurate summary. For example:
- Recreation: monthly book club meeting, occasional mani/pedi, watch favorite shows on TV
- Spirituality: Sunday service, bible study, daily prayer
- Health: Daily stretching, workout 3-4 times per week, meal prep healthy lunches
- House: Cook dinner, laundry, cleaning, yard work
So how detailed do you need to be? In general, I list any task or activity that takes up at least one hour of my time each month.
3. Order Your Priorities
Next, you need to rank the items on your priorities list. Place a “1” next to your number one priority. This should be the thing you value most in life.
Continue numbering your priorities until you’ve numbered all of them. Now you know not only what things are important to you, but which of them matter MOST.
This is important to see on paper because often the things that matter most to us are the things that get neglected. For example, my family is always at the top of my list. Yet every time I do this exercise, it’s other priorities that are consuming my time (e.g. work, travel, community obligations).
You must do this before moving on to the next step, otherwise you might make changes that won’t leave you any happier.
4. Consolidate Tasks
Now we’re ready to start making some changes that will give us more control over our lives. First, we’re going to see if any of our tasks or activities can do double duty.
Look over the activities on your list and try to identify ones that can serve more than one priority. If family is one of your top priorities, look at tasks from the other priorities that your family can do together.
For example, you can make meals and clean up after dinner together to knock out your house tasks while spending time with your family. You can also go on walks or bike rides together to combine family time and health.
You can also combine health and recreation. Try my couch potato workout while you watch your favorite TV shows. In lieu of your monthly girls’ night out for dinner, how about a doubles tennis match?
5. Identify Unnecessary Tasks
Consolidating tasks should have given you a little wiggle room in your schedule. To really free up some time though, we’re going to take it a step further.
We’re going eliminate unnecessary tasks. Start at the lowest priority. Now that you can clearly see that this area is less important to you than others, it should be easy to eliminate some of those tasks or activities.
During one of these re-prioritizing sessions, I realized I was spending many hours every week volunteering at school, even though community service wasn’t in my top three priorities. I was spending more time at school than I was with my husband or on my health. So, I recruited more volunteers for the school and scaled back my volunteer hours.
You may not be able to make changes right away. If you’ve made commitments you can’t get out of, you should follow through. But now you know you don’t have ANY room to add new tasks.
6. Map Out Your Plan
By now, you should feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders. You’ve cleared away busy work and nailed down your most essential tasks.
If you want this feeling to last, you need to formulate an actionable plan. Your important tasks are getting scheduled so they don’t fall through the cracks.
If you’re already using a planner:
- Add activities to your weekly and/or monthly calendars
- Create a weekly plan that incorporates all of your important tasks
- Make a to do list to take action on those consolidated tasks and activities you will eliminate
If you don’t already use a planner, I recommend a dry erase calendar and white board. Having these posted somewhere you’ll see them frequently will be a daily visual reminder to stick to your priorities.
Get Your Life Under Control Worksheets
I actually just scratch out all of these things on notebook paper, but sometimes it helps to have a worksheet to work through. I wanted to make this process as easy as possible for you so if you’d rather fill in worksheets, here they are:
Click the image above to download the complete set.
Or, click on the images below of the individual sheets you want to use.
If you liked this “How to Get Your Life Under Control” system, check out my list of the best personal planners for improving your life.
Not ready to commit to storing your whole life in a notebook or binder? Pick one or two of these free printables for organizing your home life.