Some helpful points on what it looks like to actually be in control of your time and your day, from Do It Tomorrow and Other Secrets of Time Management:

  1. You are able to complete your work every day. Even though your to-do list never ends, it is possible to know exactly what you need to do in order to get your work done each day.
  2. You know what a days’ work is and thus when you’ve finished it. “Before you can say that you have completed your work for the day, you need to know what it consists of” (49).
  3. If you can’t get through a days work in a day, you can diagnose the problem and fix it.
  4. You can complete all your routine daily actions very quickly.
  5. You can complete projects in the quickest possible time. “Knowing how to get projects started and how to keep them moving is a major skill” (51).
  6. You can identify exactly what the right workload is for you. When you take on (or are given) too much work, it doesn’t all get done, or done well. The problem is that what does and doesn’t get done tends to happen at random, rather than by deliberate choice. It is much better to make conscious decisions. This is easier when you know what constitutes the right workload.
  7. You can bring new work online without disrupting existing work. To do this, you need to have mastery of the previous point—knowing what the right workload is for you.
  8. You know how to deal with genuine emergencies, without being pulled off track by things that seem like emergencies but are not.
  9. You can get moving on all the things you dream of doing “someday.”
  10. You know how to follow up properly.
  11. You can keep track of the tasks you’ve delegated.
  12. You can deal with other people’s bad time management. “Even when we’ve solved the problem of our own poor time management, we still have the problem of other people’s poor time management to contend with” (53). When things are out of order for us, we tend to respond to the things that make the loudest noise. It’s the same with others. You can utilize this principle to get your stuff accomplished with them.
  13. You can motivate yourself to power through the days’ work.