Stop Stressing: Time Management Tips for Reducing Stress
Poor time management increases stress. Difficulties with time management can develop from a variety of habits and often manifest in a number of ways including; procrastination, perfectionism, overcommitting, distraction and inefficiency.
In a world where stress comes from every direction and from so many life experiences; work demands, familial challenges, illness, loss, failure, and more, it is important to develop the appropriate skills for managing stress and to make the lifestyle changes necessary for eliminating unnecessary stressors. Stressors come from both internal and external (and/or a combination of the two) sources-Some are unavoidable and others are largely self inflicted due to lifestyle habits (like poor time management skills), distorted thinking patterns and/or poor stress management skills. While you can’t always control all external stressors (illness, financial hardship, or significant familial loss, for example), you ARE in control of how you think about and manage certain stressors AND making small changes to your lifestyle in order to minimize or eliminate the stressors you CAN control (like those related to time management skills), can help.
Take control of your time to stop stressing- Here's how: Say No Saying no can help you from over committing-which is a common cause of stress. Often, we fear that saying no will disappoint others or perhaps we don’t want to admit that we can’t do it all. But the truth is, late cancels, the fear of disappointing others and a lack of follow through can cause stress to increase and will ultimately impact relationships with others. So, say no as soon as you know that something is not an option for you. If you aren’t ready to decline an event, a plan, a task or an opportunity but aren’t 100% sure you’re in, be honest. Saying things like “I’m not sure if I can take this on, but I will let you know” or “I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it to the event but I will do my best,” can help to give you some wiggle room. Be Clear On Your Priorities and Non-Negotiables Decide what habits and priorities are most important for you on a regular basis. Developing a list of your non-negotiatiables can help in creating a healthy work life balance and self-care regimen. What are the things you want to do for yourself everyday? These are your non-negotiables. Is working out or making time to meditate every day essential for you? What about sleeping a certain number of hours, prepping meals or taking a bath each day? Once you evaluate your needs and establish your non-negotiable(s), set and stick to these priorities but check in with yourself often and make sure to give your body and mind what it needs. Look For Ways To Be More Efficient Efficiency is key for time management. Habits for efficiency include; starting early, clustering errands, keeping an organized work/home space, breaking down larger tasks into smaller parts, mapping out your tasks throughout the week based on location and proximity to each other, establishing a work/break schedule, etc.. Be Flexible Having a general outline of the things you wish to accomplish in a particular day (or even week) can help to build efficiency and minimize overall stress, but make sure to build margin into your day for unplanned events. When things get in the way or take longer than expected, it can be beneficial to use flexible thinking skills and when you regularly build time in for unplanned events, you allow yourself the time to fit it in on another day when it’s more convenient.
Write Out Your Agenda Writing out your plan for the day (week or even your month) and prioritizing more crucial items, doing the most important things first, is a helpful way to manage time. In addition, developing a work/break schedule so that you can practice focused/deep work for periods of time and allow your brain and body to rest for specific periods, can help to improve focus, mental clarity, efficiency and reduce stress. Minimize Social Media, Group Chats, Texts Limiting screen time can help to boost productivity by eliminating time spent engaging in “mindless” or “meaningless” lurking, scrolling and clicking. Social media specifically, is not only addictive (which makes it incredibly time consuming/wasting) but studies show that it can also decrease feelings of overall life satisfaction as we compare ourselves and our lives to the idealized versions of others’ lives. Engaging in excessive screen time can produce or exacerbate feelings of pressure (to be or feel a certain way), stress, anxiety or worthlessness, AND it encourages procrastination. Logout of Facebook or Instagram after each use, set timers to limit screen time and/or allow yourself to use technology (texting, group chats and social media) during specific times throughout the day and/or after completing certain tasks.