It may not be intentional, but the second you give up control of your calendar to others, you’re essentially putting them in control of your life. That may sound hyperbolic, but it’s true. Instead of being able to accomplish your goals and objectives, your days are now filled doing things for others.

Over time, your calendar is just spinning out of control like a car stuck in the mud.

To prevent that from happening, you first need to realize what exactly you are doing wrong when it comes to having full control of your calendar.

You just can’t stop saying “yes.”

The first place to start if you want to regain full control of your calendar is by putting your foot down and saying “no.” Obviously, this doesn’t mean saying “no” to everything. It just means that if there’s something you really don’t want to do — or isn’t scheduled — then say “no.”

In fact, Derek Sivers, the founder of CD Baby, has the absolute best advice on this; If you’re not saying “HELL YEAH!” about something, say “no.”

This way you’re not filling your calendar with projects or events that you could care less about. Furthermore, it’s preventing others from hijacking your valuable time.

You can politely or impolitely decline requests.

This may sound harsh, but you can still politely declining requests. For example, if you’re swamped at work, then be honest and tell the other party that you currently don’t have the time to help them out on a project they’re working on. They may be a little disappointed, but hopefully, they’ll respect your time and honesty.

Not prioritizing items.

Obvious? Maybe. But, you would be surprised at how many people don’t practice this effective time management technique.

As Renzo Costarella explains in a previous Calendar post, “On a very basic level you should prioritize tasks based on urgency.” Renzo suggests that you use the quadrant system popularized by Stephen Covey.

“This simple matrix allows you to clearly define which tasks should be completed before others.” However, because “we live very dynamic lives the tasks will often change daily. That said, it’s best to plan for tomorrow at the end of your workday today,” adds Renzo.

You’re not planning ahead.

We’ve all been guilty of this at some point. You wake up in the morning and plan out your day over your cup of coffee. I guess some planning is better than nothing, but the most productive people have their days, weeks, and even months scheduled well in advance.

If you plan you won’t be in a scramble.

The reason is that planning ahead prevents you from scrambling first thing in the morning. When you go to bed the night before, you know exactly what needs to be done for the day and what needs to be done to accomplish those priorities.

Schedules can change.

That’s not to say your schedule will change periodically because of something like an emergency. It just means that if you want full control of your calendar, you need to plan ahead so that someone or something won’t take control of it for you.

Haven’t embraced timeboxing.

“Timeboxing simply means that you open your calendar and enter a block of time that you’ll spend on a certain task in the future,” writes Blaz Kos. “Instead of working on the task until it’s done, you proactively decide how much time you’ll spend on it and when.”

How much time will it take?

In other words, when you have a box of time in your calendar you determine the how much time and effort you want to put into it. So, if you set aside two hours to complete a task, it will help you focus on completing that task within the two hours.

You can use timeboxing to organize your entire calendar by deciding when and how much time you’ll devote to everyday tasks like checking your emails and conducting meetings.

Not using the right technology.

Thanks to tools like Calendar, you can essentially automate your scheduling. Just share your calendar through email or an embedded link and the other party selects the best date and time. Once they do, the event is added to everyone’s calendar.

No back-and-forth scheduling.

This eliminates the back-and-forth of scheduling — which means you can focus on more important tasks.

Since Calendar is a dynamic tool, it also uses previous data to make suggested meeting times and locations.

Scheduling too much in the day.

When you schedule less in the day you’ll have the energy to accomplish more throughout the week. That’s because you’re not burning through your energy reserve because you’re doing too much.

If you need help getting started, focus only on your top three priorities for the day. If you accomplish those, you can work on less important items. But, at least you’re not overwhelming yourself by overextending yourself.

Not stacking your meetings.

Sometimes you don’t have control over this, but if you do, schedule all of your meetings on the same day or two each week. This way you know on these days you weren’t as productive as others, so you can focus on less-taxing tasks. Also, it prevents disrupting your workflow on the days when you need to be as productive as possible.

Focusing on deadlines, not progress.

There are times when you need a deadline — like having a presentation ready for an upcoming meeting or conference. Other times, however, deadlines aren’t all that important. This becomes a problem when you establish unnecessary deadlines for non-urgent work.

This doesn’t mean that you can procrastinate. It just means that instead of committing to getting something that’s not important done by tomorrow, you give yourself a little more flexibility. Instead of “tomorrow,” how about “next week.”

Those who don’t color-coding their calendar.

Color-coding different appointments and tasks make them stand out. This gives you the chance to quickly glance over your calendar to make sure that the time allocations you’ve set align with your goals and objectives without spending too much reviewing your calendar.

Not personalizing your calendar.

Alan Lakein couldn’t have said it any better, “Time = life; therefore, waste your time and waste of your life, or master your time and master your life.

Work is obviously important. But so it making sure that you schedule time for personal appointments and relaxation. It keeps you refreshed, focused, and prevents getting burned out.

Is your calendar in your control?

If you’re starting to feel like your calendar is no longer in your control, take a step back and reevaluate your calendar. Only schedule your priorities and start saying “no.”

If you still feel overwhelmed, it may be time to start delegating tasks to others or hiring a virtual assistant.