We all know what it’s like to feel trapped by overwhelm. Tim Ferriss, author of the Four-Hour Work Week said it best: “Being overwhelmed is the same as doing nothing, just a lot more unpleasant.”

If there was a definition for happiness it would be “pleasurable involvement.” Every one of us shares a common interest in being pleasurably involved in moments of our lives at work and home. But more and more, we fall prey to too many distractions, with minds taken away by sudden knee jerk reactions. Nothing feels complete. We fall out of trust with ourselves to handle it all. Then confidence is lost to doubt.

These distractions are considerable and preventable. We’ve found that the majority of mental distractions come from mismanaged commitments. It’s not that we have too much to do. The problem is that we have too many MEANINGFUL things to do. When everything has equal meaning, we find ourselves in a foggy, whirling chaos leading to poor execution. We’re able to manage two aspects: meaning and control. In my book, “” I teach a powerful time system that we implement with coaching clients to support their personal vision coming into being.

Meaningful aspects of our lives are supported by our horizons: what really matters to us or doesn’t. When we get caught up in what does not matter, we get locked up. We must have some control to regain our perspective from 30,000 feet. When we know what matters (where we’re going and what we want), we can begin to filter out the content in our situations that is noisy and irrelevant. But to do that, we must get control over the commitments we’ve already agreed to, and the ones that are coming at us in real time.

Let’s play out four scenarios to illustrate the relationship between control and perspective.

Scenario #1: Someday Isle – Some of us have great perspective, really meaningful longings, and deep aspirations in big pictures, but have little control on the runway of our lives. Perspectives such as values, mission, and goals with no controls to stop the ambush of way too much. You could say that one would have the tendency to thwart the details, keep a broader focus, and avoid finishing. That puts one on “Someday Isle” with big ambition, but no control. As time goes on, one sits on Someday Isle with his dream sidelined by sudden ambushes.

Scenario #2: Reactionary – This is scenario #1 in advanced stages. One has NO control and NO perspective. Nothing matters, and nothing can get done. The individual has no dreams, no place to go to establish what matters, and no sense of control. They are what we call a “lost soul.” Their life is going in circles with no advancement. They are powerless and full of blame and excuses. Does this sound like your teenage son or daughter?

Scenario #3: Hopeless Doer – This is the scenario where the individual seeks refuge in getting his to-do lists knocked out, running his day by all that is imposed on him. He has big control, but no perspective. Life seems full of so much to do, why even fit anything else in? Staying occupied in the stuff keeps one safe in this mode. He never has to look at what matters. In fact, it helps because he won’t have to find out the upsetting news that nothing he’s doing matters. But this individual is saturated by keeping all the commitments and the hollow to-do list… Maybe a little productive, but not going anywhere significant.

Scenario #4: Master and Commander – This individual has just the right amount of control with the right amount of perspective. This is the classic dance between the entrepreneur voice and the manager in one person’s situation. He has a system in place with the right support and structure to balance control and perspective equally.

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Where and what to change? That’s the big question. Should you change your habits? No. That’s going to cost too much and give you no immediate reward. Should you team up with someone? Yes. If you’re earning over 100k per year, hire an assistant.

But more than anything, have a system to keep your commitments in a place to jog your memory. Lesser control means more fear, and fear takes the form of mistrust. We do not trust that whatever is presented to us will be accomplished. I heard it said that “once it’s scheduled, it’s done.” This is the type of confidence that comes with managing a workflow and keeping email, paper, and voice related commitments at a level that makes what you have in perspective achievable.

You need to use your Outlook differently by setting up a system of recordkeeping in three areas:

  1. Your schedule
  2. Your tasks
  3. Your real-time events

We all have things that come at us unexpectedly, and it’s vital have a place to put these items-to-be-done in a fashion we can count on.

In our VIP Coach program, we help high functioning entrepreneurs get free with a solid system, then help their support staff take over the system. It leads to more freedom, confidence, and earning power when our clients become Masters and Commanders of the system we teach.

Instead of weekdays and weekends, our clients learn how to manage their workflows with thematic, time blocked days where their “doer” mind is isolated for getting things done, and then other days are relational, full of high performance, money making activities that harvest bigger opportunities and big picture outcomes.

Two fundamental shifts that support the switch to a daily time blocking system are the following:

  1. Seeing time through a quality lens, not a quantity lens
  2. Organizing time around peak energy management as the main goal, not hours

When you treat your career like those working in entertainment or sports, you find that to manage your commitments, you must have climactic periods and preparation periods to get ready for them. You also begin to consider free time as a necessity, not a luxury, to lower stress and recharge for high performances. It’s this type of interdependency between maintenance activities, high performance, and lifetime activities that reward you with the pleasurable involvement I mentioned at the beginning.

For more on this and to learn how to manage control and perspective, check out this video on the Daily 6: