A Time Management Trick Guaranteed To Reduce Your Stress
Stress is something that impacts each one of us. One of the major sources of stress is not having enough time to get everything done. We can all relate to that one!!
So … here’s a simple yet powerful time management trick guaranteed to reduce your stress levels:
The Physical Dimension
In a recent radio series, I had the opportunity to talk about the things that we can do at a spiritual and emotional level to reduce our stress. To be honest, that’s where stress management begins. If you don’t have things right on the inside – if you haven’t discovered the power of the peace of God on the inside – no amount of stress reduction tips, training and techniques are going to make one iota of difference.
But neither does stress management end with our spiritual and emotional state. God didn’t just make us to be spiritual and emotional beings. He made us as physical beings too – that’s what makes us human.
And the physical reality is that a whole bunch of us have way, way …. way too much to do. When it comes to that reality, I am what the psychologists would call “an ideal type” – straight out of central casting. I have enough work to keep me going twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year and then some. Yet, I generally don’t work in the evenings (I’m an early starter) or on weekends. I make sure I have three or four weeks a year of holidays.
But back to the here and now. Here is what my diary looks like, for next week:
The detail’s not important. It’s the volume and consistency of work that makes a visual impact.
And as things turn out, I will be working next week – as I am on a speaking tour in a regional area of the southern Australian state of Victoria.
How did my diary get that full? Am I poor at prioritising?
Here’s the Problem
I have a “To-Do” list a mile long – it spans 4 typewritten pages. There are simply too many things on it to be able to do them all each week. I’m guessing that if you’re a busy, efficient person, you too have a To-Do list a mile long. One that you’re constantly juggling and updating.
The stress, comes from not being able to get everything done. You look at your To-Do list and it’s overwhelming.
At the same time, you have meetings to go to, people to see – and before you know it your diary is so chock-a-block full, there simply isn’t enough time to get done, the things that you know are really important.
The key to the problem is this:
We each have a To-Do list and we each have a diary. And 99% of people have a complete disconnect between their To-Do list and their diary. When you think about it, what is it that determines how you spend your time? It’s your diary. If you’re booked up with meetings – that’s where you’re going to spend your time.
The reason people don’t get done the things that are important to them on their To-Do list is that their dance card is their diary, and their To-Do list plays second fiddle!
So – here’s the answer. Here’s the stress reducing tip!
The answer is to put the important things on your To-Do list in your diary!
This is something that I’m doing all the time. In fact, go back up to the picture of next week’s diary, and most of those large blocks of time (other than the weekend speaking tour) are things that I put in there before you had the chance to call me and ask me for a meeting. (By the way, the person who arranged that speaking tour called me several months ago!)
So, if you rang me today to ask for a meeting , I’d be flicking through my diary, telling you the next two weeks are full, and making a time with you in 3 weeks time.
So now, my dance card is being filled by the things that I think are important, rather than the things that everyone else thinks are important. (Although as you’ll see in the diary, I have left a few blank spots for things that pop up at short notice – but then that was a proactive decision on my part.)
In other words, all of a sudden, by doing what I’m suggesting, you’re back in control of your time and how you spend it!
The process of looking through my To-Do list and blocking out time to do the things that I need to get done is a process of prioritisation. It causes you to think about what’s important and how you are going to spend your time.
So – at the risk of belabouring the blindingly, glimpsingly obvious – I’m now taking the steps that I need to take, to do the important things that I have to do.
Of Course It’s Always a Juggling Act
We don’t live in a perfect world. Interruptions come. Priorities change. Sometimes people need you to ditch the diary and spend time with them right then and there. I get that.
But, if I get to the end of the week having achieved over 75% of what I set out to achieve, that’s a whole bunch better than dancing to other people’s tunes all the time, and getting maybe 10% of my important things done.
Am I right?
And here’s what else happens. The sense of satisfaction that it gives you, to have achieved a large chunk of your important things, is a huge stress reliever. Having achieved most of what you knew was important to you (leaving things that weren’t so important on your list until another time) you’re no longer stressed.
This process of regularly and dynamically linking my To-Do list and my diary is one of the most important things I ever learned, in getting things done, and reducing my stress.