Ongoing stress has often been documented as a source of serious mental and physical health concerns. It is essential to understand that one of the major stimulants of stress and anxiety is the perceived lack of control we have over time. This kind of stress creates a constant feeling of urgency. This is usually coupled with the disappointment of not doing enough even when we actually attempt to complete all of our goals.
By understanding how to more effectively manage your time you will feel more relaxed, focus and in control. It should be noted that a difference exists between quality and quantity of time spent. Those who usually feel stressed in relation to time constraints rarely realise that this is the case. They automatically equate more time spent to be the same as quality time spent. More often than not, this formulation leads to more stress. Hence, more time is wasted, and even less time spent focusing on enjoyable pursuits.
If you feel like your work life is spilling over into your family life, a good way to make sure this does not continue to occur would be to set time boundaries, e.g. Work 4pm – 6pm; Family time 6pm – 8pm. Be sure to try and remain strict in relation to these boundaries, not letting them stretch too far over their times.
To-Do lists are extremely handy. Especially when trying to schedule all of the many errands or meetings you need to attend. Start by jotting down all of the day’s goals which you wish to achieve. Then rewrite them in a numerical list format. Start with those you want to complete more urgently at the top. Try to focus on each list point and completing just one point at a time, rather than focusing on the whole day.
Very often people who become stressed tend to blur the line between items which are ‘important’ and items which are ‘urgent’. This is usually because poor time management skills have resulted in important items not being attended to. Thus these become urgent as well. A handy trick is to note which items on your daily schedule fall under which heading. “Important”, “Urgent”, “Important but not urgent”, or “Urgent but not Important”. Be clear about the difference and create folders or a symbol scheme so you can easily recognise what needs to be done and when.
No one can do everything, all the time. It is just not possible. So why do we expect this from ourselves on a daily basis? Creating this impossible-to-achieve threshold is another catalyst for stress. Learn how to delegate your tasks to those who may have more experience in a certain area or who may be able to offer an insight you did not know was lacking. By doing so, you are able to tick off a box mentally (or on your To-Do list) and begin your next task.
Incorporate these small changes into your everyday life and reap the benefits! You will be able to understand the difference between quality and quantity of time spent. You will also create more time for yourself to enjoy your own personal pursuits.
Remember, time management shouldn’t take your time, but rather make extra time for you.