Was there a time in your life when you got so stressed because you didn’t know which task to do first? Do you feel like the hours of the day aren’t enough to get things done, and you get anxious? If your answer is yes to both questions, then it’s time to learn time and stress management.
We all have stressors in our lives, and not finding the balance to manage time and stress is a recipe for disaster, particularly for our emotional and mental well-being. Family and work responsibilities can get very demanding, but taking control of your life is very possible if you know how to manage your time.
Time management is defined as planning, organizing, and dividing your time for specific activities. Managing your time properly enables you to work faster and smarter, not harder.
It is important to learn time management techniques to stay healthy, happy, and productive even when you’re experiencing a lot of stress. The ultimate goal is work-life balance, stress relief under pressure, and overall mental well-being. There are no one-size-fits-all time management steps; what works for you might not work for others.
You may have noticed that you get too stressed when your schedule doesn’t go as planned. Or you’re getting too overwhelmed because you’re overworking. You feel more stressed when you face this situation every day. Frustrations start eating you up, which may affect your family life, relationships, and mental health.
The connection between time and stress management is learning how to manage your time properly to be more productive to avoid feeling stressed. If you know how to manage your time correctly, tasks seem to be easier and stress-free in the long run.
Suppose you’re experiencing chronic stress because you’re unable to get things done. You might want to start asking yourself why you are stuck in this situation. Here are some questions to answer so you can start making changes when it comes to your time and stress management.
- What causes my stress? How can I identify my stressors? Do I practice stress management techniques?
- Does my stress affect my relationship with my family? (Ask a loved one if it’s starting to negatively impact your relationship.)
- What are the signs that I’m overstressed? Is it because I can’t manage my time correctly?
- Why can’t I manage my time correctly? Is it because I don’t stick to my schedule or don’t know how to prioritize?
- What is more important to me, achieving more work or finishing the more important activities first?
- How can I be more organized in the workplace, at home, or in school?
- Am I doing the proper techniques to put an order in my everyday life? Or do I need to change how I go about my schedule?
- Do I focus on being busy, or do I focus on achieving results?
As you answer these questions in your mind, you will begin to realize if your lack of time management hinders you in achieving your daily grind and how you can avoid getting stressed. Start making changes now so you can stop wasting time or feeling unduly stressed over things that are mostly within your control.
How to Reduce Stress Levels with Time Management
Following a schedule causes less anxiety, forms healthy habits, and increases productivity in your everyday activities. Here are some tips you can follow for better time management:
It is a given that having a schedule allows you to be more organized in your life. Avoid procrastination by coming up with a to-do list for the day.
You can try journaling every night and list down your activities for the next day. Plan out your week accordingly, like writing down what you need to achieve on Monday, Tuesday, and so on. Place a whiteboard on your fridge, list this week’s task, or write it down on your desk calendar.
Set reminders on your phone calendar so you won’t forget a meeting, return a phone call, or your dinner date with friends. Planning what needs to be done daily, weekly, or monthly will help give you a clear head on what to do next and not scramble over the things that need to get done.
Being all over the place and not being sure what to do next causes a lot of stress. Waiting until the last minute to finish an important task will only make you very anxious. Stressors like this can be avoided if you learn how to manage your time properly.
Another time and stress management technique is to follow the SMART method in setting your goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Using the SMART method with time management will help you become more focused on long-term and short-term goals and ultimately reduce your stress levels. This section briefly explains every component of SMART goal setting and provides scenarios and examples to make every step clearer and more concrete.
Set specific goals for the day, week, or month. For example, assign Monday as your grocery shopping day. Set a specific time of the day to go to the supermarket. Make a list of the specific things that you need to buy.
Your set goals must be clear, well-defined, and detailed. This way, you won’t stress out about what needs to be done.
There must be a specific criterion by which you can achieve the progress of your goal. Let’s say you’re preparing for your LSAT exam and, at the same time, have full-time work. Set a criterion like dedicating at least 2 hours a day of studying on weekdays and 5 hours of exam review on weekends.
A task must be achievable and attainable. If you’re taking an exam and you know that calculus is your weak point, ask yourself if you can ace the test by yourself. Maybe you can hire a tutor to make your goal of passing the test achievable.
The goal must be realistic and relevant to your purpose. Setting high standards and expectations for yourself that are not realistic can be a stressor. This is something you don’t want.
Too many expectations lead to too many frustrations. Instead, set a realistic goal one step at a time. You know that for now, it’s impossible to pitch to five clients in one week. Instead, start with two clients a week and move your way up as you make adjustments based on what’s currently possible.
The goal you need to accomplish must have a timeline and a deadline. This enables you to prioritize the work to be done and avoid procrastination. For example, if you’re writing a book and do not set a deadline for the draft, you’ll find yourself delaying it. It would cause you to stress out because there’s no sense of urgency.
Another time and stress management technique is learning how to organize your space. One study showed that having an organized space can help you think more clearly. In addition, you won’t waste your time panicking or looking for whatever it is that you need.
Have you experienced looking for a file for many hours? Have you lashed out at the people around you because you can’t find something on your office desk? You don’t have to waste your time looking for your things and getting stressed out if you are organized. You can focus your energy instead on the more important tasks at hand. This makes you more productive every day.
At times, it’s okay to say no or delegate your tasks when the tasks at hand are starting to overwhelm you. Know your limits in the workplace or at home.
Your body can get run down very easily if you don’t watch your stress levels. Why do it all yourself when you can ask for help from other people? Why sacrifice your sleep when you can delegate the tasks?
Admitting you need help is not a sign of weakness. You can delegate tasks like doing the grocery shopping to your spouse. Approach your friends if you need help with de-cluttering your garage. You can also ask your colleagues for assistance if you’re overwhelmed with deadlines.
Convince yourself that you don’t have to do it all, and that you must avoid stressors caused by having too much on your plate and not getting enough rest. You are a human without superpowers, after all.
- Take a break. Remember to take a break every now and then. Do a leisure activity that will make you happy. Remember that we work to live, not to live to work. Do not let stress get the best of you.
- Take care of yourself. What happens if you don’t take care of yourself? Stress will overwhelm your mind and body.
One study explained that being constantly exhausted can cause your body to get sick. This is why self-care is imperative, no matter how busy you get. Spend time in nature, exercise, eat healthily, try relaxation techniques, hang out with your family, and get enough sleep.
We all cope differently with stress. Figuring out which strategy works best for you is often a trial and error method. But what if your stress levels get out of control and is starting to affect your performance at the office and your family relationships?
People who are always under stress are prone to mental health problems, most especially depression. If your stress has reached an unmanageable level, then now is probably the best time to talk to a therapist. The therapists at Kentucky Counseling Center can give you insights on different coping mechanisms, teach you how to manage stress in a healthy way, and most importantly, help you prevent mental illness.