Mastering the Agenda Battle: Own Your Day

Wed, Feb 28, 2024

“Your email inbox is a to-do list created by other people.” ~ Chris Dixon

It doesn’t stop at emails.

Your entire day and life is beset on all sides by people pushing their agenda on you.

You must learn how to push back.

Getting through my emails was a step toward my goals. The same is true with meetings; I used to pride myself when I looked at my calendar and saw a busy day ahead. Especially as a new entrepreneur, being busy meant I was making traction. Or did it?


Here’s a solid exercise: Think about your most important goals.

Got ’em? Good. Now, open up your email inbox and scroll through it. How many of those emails have anything to do with your goals? There may be a handful in there, but I doubt it’s more.

Do the same thing with your calendar. Take a look at how you spent last week. Look over every meeting you took. How many of them actually brought you closer to your goals? Seeing how much time you spend on other people’s agendas should make you a little angry.

You have things to accomplish that are vitally important to your existence. Those things need a champion. That champion must understand exactly what s/he is fighting for and, most importantly, how to fight.


Step one, your agenda comes first.

You get prime-time placement.

Most business owners relegate their most crucial work to nights and weekends. The work most likely to yield the most significant results is pushed to the periphery as it allows the noisiest problems to take center stage. Why? They aren’t advocating for their agenda.

The best advice I’ve ever received was the simplest: Pay yourself first.

This is as true with time and attention as it is with money.


Before you accept another appointment, schedule time with yourself daily to work on the things that matter most to you.

You’ll notice I didn’t say “block time off.”

Time blocks get booked. They’re like fattened hogs, ripe for the slaughter. This isn’t a time block. This is an actual, honest-to-goodness appointment. And it’s one you need to commit to keeping, come hell or high water.

If something or someone tries to infringe on your agenda, ask: Is this more important than my goal? The answer may be yes; that’s fine. Now you know what to do.

Otherwise, you now have the rules engine necessary to eliminate distractions and permit yourself to say no.


No is the magic pill for all entrepreneurs.

Learning how to use it with strength and decision is critical.

We are the people to whom other people bring their emergencies; that’s what we signed up for. However, we can’t let that be at the cost of what we’re here to accomplish.

So, ignore your emails. Clear your schedule. Say no to distractions (a “distraction” is anything that doesn’t bring you closer to your stated goals).


Focus on what you need to get done and carve out your most productive hours for yourself.

Don’t let other people dictate what you do.

What tools do you use to keep yourself focused on what you need to do and eliminate other people’s ability to dictate your agenda?