Jul 03 2012

How to Reduce Stress through Effective Time Management

Talking about stress has become one of the new national pastimes. Even children are said to suffer from stress and the pressure to perform consistently well throughout a busy day. Everyone talks about multitasking as if it is some great virtue, when it often just means we are living in a perpetual state of distraction and anxiety as a result of so much to do, but little getting done because we lack focus.

Everyone seems to feel a day late and a dollar short, as the phrase goes, working as hard as s/he can just to try to keep up, but in many cases feeling like s/he is barely able to pay the bills due to the recession and increases in prices.

We work hard and still feel like we have not been able to give things our best. We also feel guilty about putting in longer and longer hours when we really just want to spend time with our families and have a day off to just relax.

The truth is, however, that a lot of this stress can be relieved though effective time management and learning how to work smarter, not harder. You may feel powerless in the face of a demanding boss, but are you really doing your best, or are you actually sabotaging yourself and thus triggering even more pressure and stress in your life?

There are a number of smart choices you can make to help get the vast number of things on your to-do list completed without driving yourself crazy in the process or getting even less sleep than you already are. Here are a few suggestions.

One of the simplest ways to reduce stress in your day is to prepare for each day the night before. This could be as basic as laying out your breakfast dishes before going to bed or as thorough as packing your briefcase, laying out your clothes, and showering before bedtime. Find out what works best for your schedule and then stick to it. You may be surprised at how smoothly your morning goes once you try this simple method.

If you then apply the time you save running around like a headless, stressed-out chicken each morning, you can then give yourself an easier commute.

Then you can get into the office earlier, and sit down at your desk in a less stressed and frazzled state of mind.

Once you get to your desk, you can read over the to-do list for the day that you prepared the day before, about 15 minutes before you left for the day. Check your list three times a day, morning, noon, and evening, about an hour before you plan to leave. Tea time can be a low-energy period of the day for many people, so wind down by looking over your list to make sure you have not missed anything important that needed to be done that day.

Then complete a few short tasks to end the day on a high note. Cross them off the list, and then create your prioritized to-do list for the next day. In this way, once you get into work the next morning, you can start tackling the list at once.

Getting in early might also mean more peace and quiet in order to get your tasks done more quickly without any distractions. It can also mean more preparation time for that big meeting or presentation.

Checking your list throughout the day, crossing off and adding new projects, can help keep the work flowing and lead to less stress and more productivity.

The habit of preparing in advance is also an excellent one to cultivate because it can carry over into the rest of your life as well. Taking the time to prepare for events in your children’s lives, such as a school play, parent-teacher meetings, holiday planning, and even family meals will pay off because you will find them all more simple, less stressful events.

Your final strategy is to eliminate time wasters. Sure, you got a good giggle watching that comedy show, but if there is no food in the fridge because you did not go shopping or you have no clean clothes because you forget to pick up the laundry, then that was a completely wasted half hour that you will not get back.

You will also want to avoid the little free time that you do have being eaten up in other ways. We have never figured out why families all decide to go grocery shopping together on a Saturday or Sunday when one parent could accomplish it in a fraction of the time on a Wednesday night after work. Having a household to-do list can also help you make the most of your time and live a better life that is more in balance.

Working to minimize wasted time can reap a host of benefits by finally freeing up time for rest and relaxation, and quality time with the people you care about.

FURTHER READING:

How to Manage Your Time Each Day: Essential Time Management Skills

How to Create an Organized and Productive Home Office

Transforming Stress Into Success: How to Minimize Stress and Maximize Success in Today’s Economy”

How to Get Started as a Do-It-Yourself Mom