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Reducing stress is so critical in the world in which we live these days. Generally speaking, life is stressful. And, from experience, I have found that time management goes a very long way in reducing my everyday stress.
In fact, “Reduce your stress,” is one of the key mantras my chiropractor expresses every time I go see her. For those who have read other posts, you know that I have problems with neck pain. So, I am work to ensure that I have an ergonomic office. I also ensure I do my exercises, sit correctly, get up and walk around. All the right things to avoid back and neck pain.
But, still some days, I hurt. And I find those days are mostly the ones that I have let stress get out of control. Yes – just stressing out causes neck pain. If you feel stress, your body tenses, your neck muscles get tight and you start to feel pain – in your back, your arms and sometimes in your head. Yup, stress is bad.
In earlier posts, I discussed the use of essential oils for reducing stress. I highly recommend that you use a diffuser in your office (and your home) with essential oils that have properties that combat stress. However, I also highly recommend that you look at changes you can make to reduce as much stress as you can before it even starts. Time management is one of the changes you can make.
Stress can be overwhelming
Those of us who work from home often find that without some type of time management, the stress can overwhelm us. When you put too much pressure on yourself or you become overwhelmed by duties, demands, and responsibilities, it can lead to snowball effect. Simply put, very unscientifically, the more stress you feel, the more stressed you become.
Stress comes in many forms. And, it is caused by many things. But, when your stress is just from having too little time for all your responsibilities, it might be a great opportunity to work on your time management skills. Time management helps to reduce stress while working to eliminate that horrible feeling of being overwhelmed.
Getting your thoughts under control before managing time
Before we take a look at some time management strategies, it would be helpful to “get your mind straight.” One of the best ways that I have found to do this, is first take a deep breath. Okay. Good. Now take another. That’s right – keep taking deep breaths until you feel a sense of relaxation. Seems too simple, but it does work to get more oxygen to your brain.
With a sense of calm, you can now work on some time management activities.
Begin with the beginning in mind
What does that even mean? If you want to better manage your time, you need to start at the beginning by choosing your priorities. Let’s face it. You can’t get everything done at once. So, what needs to happen first? What can you relegate to later? Setting your priorities will help to relieve some of your stress. The good thing about reducing stress is that it allows your brain to function better overall. Because of this, you are able to get more accomplished.
Then, how do you figure out what the priorities are? Here are some things to consider when setting task priorities.
Is there a deadline?
Think about tasks that have a strict deadline. Assign those tasks to the top priority and get those tasks done first. These should be a priority, since they MUST be done by a certain date and time.
I highly recommend visuals when managing your time. A good way to keep track of these priority items is to put the tasks with deadlines down on a calendar planner. If you are a list person, then you can use a list to prioritize your tasks. Once you have the tasks with a deadline on your calendar or list, then begin assigning a priority to the rest of the tasks you have to complete. Tasks without a deadline are more open-ended, so they can be added to a later date on your planner or list.
Just prioritizing your tasks should help reduce your stress. Making a visual of all the things that need to be done can bring a sense of relief. You will now have all the tasks ordered and assigned priority for completion. With this prioritizing, you can see the things you have to do and when they will need to be completed. But you are able to look at them as individual units rather than a crazy, overwhelming mess in your head. If you have the plan to accomplish each task rather than worrying about doing everything at once, you will eliminate some stress.
Look at the big picture and decide if the task is really critical
When you are building a business, you may find that you simply have too much to do. Instead of insisting that you have to get everything done, consider whether each task is NECESSARY. Think about each task and what the end result is going to be. Especially think about what would happen if the task was NOT done. Is it more like busy work that you think you should
be doing, or is it actually critical that it get done?
Especially in the building phase of your business, you will need to let go of some tasks. Think this, “What is the worst thing that could happen if I don’t complete this task?” The honest answer to that question should help you to decide whether the task really needs to be done or not.
How do you feel when working on the task?
If there is something you start working on that immediately causes more stress and frustration, re-think whether this is a priority or not. Now, some things that HAVE to be done cause stress. If this is the case, then perhaps chunking the task into smaller blocks of time will help.
My recommendation for these tasks, however, is to get them done as quickly as possible. If a task causes stress when you are doing it, then it causes a constant and nagging stress in the background when you avoid completing it. This can override any joy you might feel putting the task off. Bite the bullet and get the task done if it is a priority.
Does the task affect people in your life?
You might also want to think about certain tasks that could affect your family and friends positively or negatively. Tasks related to taking your kids to doctor’s appointments or helping your friend with moving might be a priority. But make sure you have them on your calendar or list to complete when scheduled.
In time management, schedule your work first to reduce stress
Brain clutter. That is what I call a huge mess of tasks that you know have to be done but have no idea how you will complete them. Brain clutter leads to brain fog. Which leads to feeling stress. Which leads to being overwhelmed. OK – you get the idea.
Take a deep breath now and first schedule as many of your work tasks as you can. Listing the tasks with a due date for the tasks prevents the added stress caused by missing deadlines, not going to appointments, or letting all of this clutter muddle your brain.
Time management is difficult, if not impossible to do effectively without having a schedule. It is okay to make changes as life happens, but at least start with tasks that will be worked on and when. Then you will have a better idea of how to spend the rest of your time.
Include your personal life in your calendar to reduce stress
When you have your own business, scheduling personal time can be the hardest thing to do. Especially at first. But, make sure as you schedule your time, you remember to schedule your personal life! That’s correct. I said to schedule your personal time.
No matter what you do or how busy you are, you need to have time for yourself, family, and friends. If you don’t schedule “you” time, you will hit burnout very quickly. This is why time management is so helpful in reducing stress. You not only schedule all your work tasks, but you also see where you have time for your personal life and leisure time.
Try logging your activities when you begin time management
Especially when you begin working on time management skills, consider keeping a detailed log of everything you do and when. You can easily do this by keeping a daily time log at your desk, and jot down what you are doing each hour. Of course, the more detailed you keep the log, the more it will help. But, don’t stress yourself out by spending a huge amount of time logging your time.
The log will help you to look back and see how you have been spending your time. It may alert you to what are time wasters for you. It will also help you to see where you go right, and where you might be going wrong in managing your time.
Perhaps at the end of the month, you feel like you should have accomplished more and don’t understand where your time went. If you keep a log of everything you did, you could see problems that occurred. Maybe you worked late for too many days so your personal life suffered. Perhaps you took an extended vacation that dipped into your work responsibilities.
Maybe your breaks were too long, or you simply didn’t manage your time correctly. All the documentation is going to help you understand where all your time went. Time management can be different for everyone. Sometimes it just takes a little trial and error to figure out what works best for you to give you the most balanced life.
Effective time management reduces stress
Let’s face it. We all have the same 24 hours every day. But some people seem to get more done with less stress. Others run around stressed and overwhelmed trying to get everything done and seeming to get nowhere. As a business owner, you want to be in the first category. You want to manage your time so that each day is productive and as stress free as possible. The sooner you get a handle on managing your time, the more successful you will feel. And, the more successful you will be.
Using time management to reduce stress allows you to spend your “brain time” accomplishing tasks rather than wasting it wondering how you will get everything done. It will also ensure that you enjoy your personal time, rather than spending it worrying about what you still have to do. If you feel stress about all the things you have to do, I recommend that you get a handle on managing your time today. Set aside some time to list and prioritize all that you have to do. Once this is done, you will notice that you feel less stressed. And that sure does feel good!
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