Stress is like spice –
in the right proportion it enhances the flavor of a dish.
Too little produces a bland, dull meal;
too much may choke you.
Stress that is work-related is often the result of improper use of time or a lack of time management skills. With so many things going on, there is seemingly never quite enough time to attend to work responsibilities within the alloted time. And this leads to a stressful working environment. This applies to both small and complex projects alike. So careful planning with regard to your schedule is crucial.
But, before we press on, let’s be realistic. There will always be those factors in life and at work over which you have no or minimal control. All of this can add up to a higher level of stress than what like to have to deal with. But, deal with it, you must. So, stress management and time management often need to be addressed in a side by side fashion because they are often interrelated.
Skip the time wasters
When you talk about stress and proper time management of your activities, it is usually pointed toward the goal of increased your productivity. Although stress may serve as a good occasional stimulus to help drive you toward achieving more, you need to also look at managing your time properly for higher productivity, and having less stress overall.
Listed below are a few of the things you need to look at avoiding to help make the best use of your valuable time, while simultaneously reducing your stress levels.
• Interruptions. No matter what your job entails, there will always be some source of interruption. It is important that you learn how to deal with those interruptions in an effective and efficient manner to save yourself some time and to be able to get back to your work as quickly as possible.
• Plan. You have heard the old adage that goes along with this: “If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.” Make sure that you carefully plan out what you need to get done and how you plan to do it. This will make it much easier for you to visualize later when it comes time to actually execute your plans.
• Communicate and Delegate. If you are working with other people on a project, having proper lines of communication and good delegation skills are vital to teamwork. This involves your ability to share the workload with people. But more than just sharing workload, it also involves your ability to determine which people are best suited to perform specific tasks for higher efficiency.
Effective time management can definitely be a great help in bringing some of your stressors under control while boosting your level of productivity. In order to get started on a more efficient time management technique, you must search out a strategy that you can easily implement. Not all systems work well for everyone. Eventually, all of the training and new ways that you will find yourself thinking about how you use your time will become second nature once you get used to your new schedule.
But an equally, if not more important step toward making those changes is recognizing whether or not you have poor time management skills that are causing you to be stressed out. It is obviously a pointless exercise to work at fixing an issue, expecting it to cure all of your ills and get you back on track, only to find out or figure out that you are working on the wrong issue.
There are a few tell-tale signs that you need to look out for and consider revising if they are part of your current life.
- You increasingly easily irritable while doing your task. At first it was little things that bothered you. Suddenly, its everything!
- Constant state of fatigue.
- Losing your ability to concentrate well, and remain focused.
- Difficulty concentrating on what you need to do.
- Inability to track your activities. You can’t figure out where your time leaks are, or how the whole day has slipped past you.
- Inability to sleep well at night due to anxiety or unexplained worries.
How do I improve?
Proper management of your time can very often directly translate into increased productivity. Therefore, this should be one of your top priorities if you want to reduce the level of stress you have to deal with on a regular basis. Try out a couple of strategies below and see if what fits you best.
• Plan your daily activities. We talked about this a bit above. When you sit down and write out your list of the activities you need to get done for a given day, the next thing you need to do is rank them according to importance and urgency to avoid rushing through the things that you need to take care with.
• Learn to say, “No” more often. Stop agreeing to do other people’s stuff when you already have a full plate of your own to manage.
• Delegate, delegate, delegate. Work on your ability to delegate tasks appropriately so that the tasks get done efficiently by people who are trained and/ or have time to do them well. You cannot do it all or be it all.
• Step back and evaluate. In between your tasks, make the time to evaluate whether you are spending your own time efficiently and effectively. If you feel that you are not, then switch over to another more effective plan…and quickly!
• If possible, avoid any form of distraction.
• Remember to take a break. This step alone will reduce stress and increase your productivity.
Time management and stress management are often linked. If we can sort out the stressors and manage your time, you will magically find that eventually yuo will be less stressed and have more time to do more of what you love.