Time management is essential for stress and anxiety reduction, because without managing your time, beating stress would be near to impossible!
There are some great tips in order for you to be able to manage your time, so that stress becomes reduced. But why?
Don't forget, stress comes as a perceived threat. It isn't the action that causes the stress, but the meaning we give to the action.
Let me give you an example.
Lets say that it is raining outside, and you can hear the rain on the window. Now some of you might be irritated by that, as the rain might be making a noise, preventing you from going to sleep.
Some of you might be relaxed about it, as it might be making a meditative rhythmic noise which could make you feel sleepy. And some people (lets just say a farmer), might actually enjoy it, because they know that their crops are getting a good healthy does of water. Do you see what is going on? It's not the rain that is causing the emotions, it is the meaning that we give to the action/event.
Don't forget, no event has a meaning, apart from the meaning that you individually give to it. So with that in mind, it is imperative that we manage our time, our workload, or our day, so that we can keep stress at an all time minimum. These are the little things you can do, to make your life a lot easier.
- Prioritising your tasks– We will talk about this more later on
- Taking the, '10 min exercise'– Do a task that you have been avoiding, and do it for 10 mins. You may find that as you are starting it, it gets a little easier. Who knows, you may also end up finishing it as well;-)
- Concentrate on the outcome, and not the process– Don't focus your energy on how badly this is going, focus your energy on the ultimate outcome. This should give you peace of mind as well as the ability to work smarter and not too hard!
- Start a stress journal- Try and quickly record what things stresses you out, how you felt physically and emotionally, what your response was, and what you did to feel better. If you can, you can try EFT to help alleviate the stress, to try to prevent it coming back in the future over a particular trigger (we will deal with EFT later in this book).
- Let go of life, and accept everything that comes your way– I know, this is a hard one…but there are simply things that we cannot change. You have to control the controllable, which is always your response to a given task, and let the uncontrollable go. What I mean is, it's very easy to get stressed out when there is a bad client to deal with, a horrible meeting to attend, or lots of emails to catch up on. We all have deadlines, but you cannot change that. Stop thinking that you can. Simply focus (as best you can) on the outcome, and let life takes it course. Try to remain focused!
- Keep a healthy diet- Drinking coffee first thing may be nice, but it scatters your thought, messes with your internal thermostat, and before you know it, even the slightest noise is distracting. Try to drink more water, not caffeine, and don't forget the fruit (don't forget the chapter on foods and drinks, which will complement this nicely). When you have a break, try to relax and do the opposite that you were doing during work time, that is to say, give a chance for your mind to recuperate. If you can find a private place (like a car), try and meditate. This alone will work wonders (I'll show you how you can do this later).
- Make sure you have plenty of sleep- I know from personal experience, that when you barely have 7 hours of sleep, you feel groggy at work. The result? Poor productivity at work, and a bad mood. Do this for a long period of your life, and suddenly your subconscious is re-trained (and not for the better!). You can become depressed (even chronicly) and be, in extreme cases, suicidal (and trust me, I've been there).
Get your sleep! Once you feel (at least) remotely refreshed, you've just improved your day by 50% (and that's big, by the way). It will allow you to Concentrate, be more focused, get less distracted, and (if you avoid the morning coffee rush, and stick to water) be more healthier.
- Try and share a good laugh, when a joke comes your way- This will help lift up your mood, allowing you to concentrate and get the task done quicker.
- Place down all of the tasks on the left hand side
- On the right, mark from A to C which level of priority it has. A is very important and C is not that important…can be done later.
- Look at the A's, and do those first, making sure that the B tasks are done afterwords.
- On the left hand side, you label, ‘High Importance', on the right hand side, ‘Little Importance'.
- Below the table, you put, ‘done now', on the right, ‘done asap'.
Of course, these are two fairly simple exercises, that many courses and books cover. But I thought these two will at the very least, get you on your way in prioritising tasks. The stress reduction strategy This is one that I came across, and thought it would be fitting to include it here. The trick is to look at the 2 C's. Either change the situation, or change your reaction. You can change your reaction, by either trying to adapt to the stimulant/ what is causing the stress, or accepting the stimulant/ what is causing the stress. You can change the situation, by either trying to avoid the stimulant/what is causing the stress, or by trying to alter the stimulant/what is causing the stress. Lets look at each one in particular, to see how they fit into reducing stress. Part 1: Adapting to the stimulant/what is causing the stress
- Try to look at the bigger picture/ broader view- This goes a long way, and you'll be surprised that understanding the bigger picture can help change your perspective, which in the long run will reduce the stress.
- Try to alter your own personal standards- we all want to be perfectionists, but we don't live in a perfect world, and no event is perfect either. Don't set your standards too high, and set out to achieve perfection. Something always happens that will knock you down. Learn to be happy and at peace when things don't appear to go your way, and learn to accept the old cliché, ‘it's good enough'.
- Try to re-frame the picture of the problem in your mind- Don't forget, it's not the event that is stressing you out, it's the meaning you are giving the event. Try to remain positive, and learn to adapt this as your attitude. Despite what cynics say, being positive does more help than harm (and you'll start to feel good in the process;-).
- Try to be grateful/learn gratitude- This is a hard one, I know. Being grateful when you have a client screaming at you, or being made to look like a fool by a colleague is no easy task. But surprisingly, gratitude (when done properly) has a great side effect at reducing your stress levels. Try, when you have 5 seconds of breathing space, to be really grateful for what you have. You should (if done properly) have a healing type of energy spring up, which should cool you down. You'll be surprised at the results;-)
Part 2: Accepting the stimulant/ what is causing the stress
- Try the art of forgiveness- We live in a judgemental world, don't we? The problem is, love is unconditional, so is the world, and guess what, so is our life. Things will happen that is negative and positive in our life, whether we like it or not! The trick is therefore to learn forgiveness, and accept that nobody is perfect and that we all make mistakes, and sometimes there is ignorance around. How do you forgive? Let go of the event that caused your negative feelings. Just let it go. This will also let go of some if not all anger/ resentment and will allow you (if done properly) to feel more better and ultimately, more healthier (negativity has been proven to cause illnesses, and rage can shut down the immune system, which fights illnesses and disease, for up to to 4 hours…food for thought;-).
- Try and share your feelings with someone you trust- This is why therapy can work very well, or having that nice long chat with a friend over the phone. The thing is, we use so much instant messaging and texting, that we forget the benefits of good ol' fashioned socializing. Talking about your feelings lifts you up (and trust me, you will feel better afterwards). Just one word of caution: Don't feel embarrassed about it;-)
- Don't forget, what doesn't take you out, makes you stronger- It's such an old cliche, I know, but it is so true. Try to look at the upside of everything, and you will begin to realise that you are stronger than you give yourself credit for. Don't forget, your higher consciousness will always give you challenges for you to overcome. You may ask why? Is your soul cruel? No! It's simple…to help you feel empowered. Dissolving a fear based situation, using love, is the most empowering thing you will feel. Don't believe me, try it! Do an action that normally scares you slightly (always start small, of course) and using love (because love heals and is the opposite to fear) do the action and walk away. You will feel empowered (and strangely powerful;-).
- Don't attempt to control the stuff that you cannot control- Sports psychologists know this all too well, and convey this to top athletes. Only control what you can control, not attempt to control anything else (leave that to nature). Just do the best you can. Focus and concentrate on the stuff that only you can do, and (politely) ignore the rest. Why worry about something, and waste your precious energy over something that you cannot change? That's crazy!!! Instead, focus on what you can change, and be at peace that you have done the best thing you can! (of course, it goes without saying, don't do anything irresponsible/illegal).
Now lets look at the 2nd C, which was changing your situation! Part 3 – Avoiding the stimulant/what is causing the stress
- Look at your action list, and analyze it- Look at your appointments, schedules, and tasks. Like the priority tactic above, look at the ones that are the, ‘should do now' versus the, ‘can do later'. Prioritise critically.
- Take control of where you work- It sound obvious, but if simple things like the news stresses you out, turn off the TV! If you are in the car, for example, and the traffic gets particularly bad, go another way (even if it is longer, but of course take the time into consideration).
- Learn how to say the, ‘No' word- this one is tricky, especially for those people who love to feel like they are helpful all the time, but just saying, ‘No' (politely of course) is one of the great simple things in getting things done and avoiding stress, because you are able to reduce your workload.
- Learn to avoid the hot button conversations- Again sounds obvious, but if you know someone is going to turn into an angry politician due to a certain topic, avoid the topic altogether! This is another easy way to stop stress. Of course, these topics may flare out of nowhere, despite your best efforts, so remain calm and do deep breathing/ be in the, ‘now' as much as possible if that happens.
- Learn to avoid people who stress you out, period!- Doesn't matter if it is family (that's a big one, I know!) friends (although I would like to think that your friends shouldn't stress you out) or your boss (who probably does it all the time). Of course, when it comes to work, you have no choice but to see your boss for meetings, and informal work related discussions. But limit the time as much as possible. You could save yourself a headache!
Part 4- Altering the stimulant/ what is causing the stress
- Manage your personal time better- Poor or ineffective time management skills really make stress at an all time high! When you have loads of work to do, you're behind, and if you have had a poor nights sleep, you really know it! Your stress levels go through the roof, you are unable to concentrate and results in poor productivity. If you plan ahead (starting with your sleep) you will ensure a better day, a more organised time, better focus and improved productivity.
- Express how you feel, rather then keeping your feelings inside yourself- Bottling up your feelings towards someone that is causing you stress isn't the best way to handle stress, and could lead to lack of focus and a potential argument. Always try to speak to someone in a respectful and careful way, to try to find a productive and constructive solution, rather than bottling up your feelings. Otherwise, the situation will keep taking place, and you've fallen further behind in your workload!
- Be able to negotiate or compromise a situation- Negotiating a situation is one of the few qualities that is under-rated in social and work skills, and can work wonders in keeping your stress levels low! If you are able to alter your behaviour, because someone is willing to alter theirs to keep the peace, this will ensure a more productive outcome to both of your goals.
But at the risk of contradicting…
- Be more firm/assertive- Learn to face your problems straight away by taking issues or problems head on. Don't delay! Try to perceive them ahead of time and avoid them, or work around it. You will start to feel like you're in control, with a better chance of reducing your stress levels.
Hopefully that will give you a good foundation on how to use good time management tips to help reduce stress. Time management is such a big topic, enough to feel many books, but I wanted to give you some quick and simple ways of being able to be more productive. But what do you think? What is your best way of managing time? Let me know in the box below