That “out of control” feeling.

For me, there’s nothing worse than feeling like things are out of control. When you have ADD or ADHD, control is your first course of survival. Control lets you breathe, it lets you focus, and it lets you prepare for what comes next, and what comes after that. When you don’t have control, nothing else works. It’s truly amazing how critical feeling like you’re in control actually is to our day to day functions.

I’d say that a lot of my planning stems from wanting to make sure I’m in control as much as possible. I’d caveat that by saying that we need to understand exactly what we can control, and not waste energy or thoughts on that which we can’t. It’s not unlike the serenity prayer, where we ask for the serenity to accept the things we can’t change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

So here are the top ways I stay in control.

  1. Without question, my number one way is simply to wake up earlier. I know I repeat this a lot, but my God, does it work. Perfect example today – I overslept. (I’m not perfect.) Wednesday is the one day I don’t work out at 5am, so I slept in until 6am. The alarm went off and I simply ignored it or shut it off, I don’t remember. But I open my eyes and it’s 7am. Oops! Out of bed, got to the gym by 9am, (fed and watered the kid first, etc.) But then when my workout was done, I had to rush to the airport, and the air train was late. Then the connecting train to the terminals was late… And I felt my blood pressure start to rise… By the time I got through security, I had maybe twenty minutes before boarding. I was still “early,” by definition, but I wasn’t happy. I was anxious.Compared to all the other times I get to the airport hours ahead of schedule so I can go to the lounge, get work done, etc., this was practically late! So avoid the madness – Easiest way? Get up earlier.
  2. Do homework. Nothing makes you feel out of control more than feeling like you don’t know what’s going on. When I have meetings somewhere I’ve never been before, I try to go there a few days before the meeting and snoop around. How long does it take to get there from my office? What’s the closest subway stop? What exit of the subway? (The wrong subway exit can cost you ten minutes or more!) How’s security at the building? Are there lines? Is it crowded? These are all things that can get you frazzled before a meeting – And let’s be honest – Do we really want to be frazzled before a meeting?
  3. I always any mandatory information about my day in a small piece of paper and throw it in my pocket each morning. If the worst happens and I lose a phone or worse, my shoulder bag, I still have what I need in my wallet. This is also great for when the power goes out or you don’t have mobile service.
  4. Find a calendar application that works for you – Explore them all! I did a ton of research on my calendar apps when I switched from Android to iPhone. For me, what matters most is being able to look at my calendar and see, in one second, what I’m doing, where I’m going. chose Google Calendar for my purposes, but your mileage may vary. Once you have a good day-organizer like that, staying in control becomes a lot easier.
  5. Finally, focus on deep breathing. Sometimes there’s traffic, and there’s nothing you can do. If it’s truly out of your hands, take that deep breath, and know you’ve done the best you can do. That feeling of control will come back shortly. Wait for it, and smile.

What’s your secret for staying in control? Tell us in the comments – Share your best hacks and tricks, and we’ll feature them on the site!