Time Management: The Formula for Stress Relief
Have you ever noticed how many authors and life coaches are making full-time careers out of advising us on how to shift schedules and sort priorities? How do you balance your personal life when there are so many people competing for your time? Your kids need to go to the soccer game or music lessons. Your mother, father, sister, or brother just went into the hospital or is having a birthday, graduation, or anniversary you need to be at. With a goal of reorganizing our lives along more disciplined, chronologically elegant lines, these gurus prescribe everything from broad, common sense solutions to the insistent micro-management of every detail of our days and nights.
These conflicting time management issues are particularly present for a business owner. And like your personal life, no matter how well you plan your day or prioritize the “to-do” list, in business, unforeseen circumstances will throw the ubiquitous monkey wrench into the picture.
The authors and life coaches are noble in their efforts and techniques. But the goal for all of them seems to be liberation from the monstrous anxieties caused by overwhelming responsibilities and deadlines.
At its heart, the time management industry is selling you tools to redraw some of the boundaries that modern life seems to be intent on dissolving, especially the boundaries between what you feel you need to do and what you actually have to do.
Worry and inefficiency feed on this overwhelming confusion. The key to straightening out your priorities, most will tell you, is to keep a close log of what you are doing, for how long, and, most importantly, how you are feeling about the task. This should be done for a typical week. That is, if there is a typical week!
With these facts you can see the wasted time, the conflicts of overlapping activities, and the productive time. Deciding what actions can be grouped together, what ones you must do, and the ones that someone else can do or that should be ignored in the future, can be very liberating.
A good portion of any book that provides undoubted wisdom on how to shape and run your life is irrelevant in many cases. There is no standard, geometric shape that can be substituted for different situations. There is no critical path analysis. You will get small advantages using somebody else’s vision of how to manage time and the anxious moments of approaching deadlines.
In the end, you can expect diminishing returns if you try to systemize every moment of the day. The roots of creative time management as it applies to your business and personal life, on which only you can draw, lies in the sudden connection of unexpected circumstances and ideas, often in an environment you do not control. So build a framework with your own and others’ ideas to make your time work more efficiently and effectively for you. Don’t let time manage you. You will become more productive, efficient, and hopefully, you will feel better with a little less stress.
I am no time management expert. But here are five common tools that seem to be in the many lists of time management techniques offered to you in bookstores and on the web:
Stay Ahead of the Curve
There’s nothing like arriving prepared. So start the day a little earlier. Even if it is a half hour, this is time you can reflect and organize your thoughts as to what lies ahead and how you are going to react.
Manage Your Interruptions
Assign an hour in the morning and an hour at night to deal with your correspondence. Try switching off your email in between to avoid scratching the send and receive itch every five minutes. In many cases, a response during the same day, even at the end of the day, can be sufficient. Unless you are expecting an important call, try to shut off your cell phone for three hours. Turn it on, check for important messages then turn it off for another three hours. Return your phone calls at the end of the day.
Never underestimate the power of managed disruption. A change of scene for half an hour can be a very stress relaxing therapy. Walk around the block. If you don’t have time, plan for this. You want to manage your time, not the other way around.
Design Your Own To-Do List
Sure you can list everything that needs to get done. You can even prioritize them. But why not embellish the list. How long do you estimate each task will take? Can you be interrupted? Who do you have to coordinate with so they can plan their time too?
It may seem like wasting time or an emergency measure, but when the calendar is full and you’ve just started page three of the to-do list, you’ll be surprised at how refreshing a few minutes of light sleep can be. Here is a link http://biznik.com/articles/afternoon-nap-is-the-new-trend-in-productivity that talks about a scientific study supporting the idea that sleep refreshes not only the body but also the mind. Science suggests that making it a regular feature of your time planning will enhance your performance and well being.
There is no guarantee that you will be more relaxed and less stressed if you try to manage your time. It seems if you get a free minute the hands of time reach in and take it from you. There are 1,440 minutes in a day and 29,020 days in an 80 year lifetime. Take control of your time and make this year the year you do what you want.