We all feel the pressure to get it all done. Time management is the first step in reducing stress. Trying to be present for our families, friends, and employers can wear us down if we are not managing our time to the fullest. The morning can set us up for a productive day or can lead to a day of frustration and disappointment. Here are a few ways in which you can maximize your time in order to feel more balanced and enjoy your life in our busy world.
Being organized can seem daunting to some. Making habits long term can have great rewards in time management. Preparing for your day can take more time then most realize and if you are rolling out of bed and hurrying out the door it can set you up for a bad day. Instead prepare as much as you can the night before. Setting up the coffee and knowing where your keys are can shave minutes off your morning. But more importantly these habits reduce stress.
Having routines throughout the day can reduce stress and limit decision making. leaving you the ability to make harder decisions throughout the day. Steve Jobs wore the same outfit every day (jeans and a black shirt) he did this to reduce the stress of thinking about his daily wardrobe because he felt he could utilize those decisions elsewhere. Having a schedule or routine seems mundane to some however, even a small morning routine can save you time. The more time you free up to start the day the better your day will go. At work we are often required to multitask. However, even in doing so you can have a routine. Committing to completing a call, email or project before you take a break or move on to the next item can be part of your routine.
Bedtime routines can also be helpful for a good night sleep and a good start to the following day. If you are not a morning person, prepare as much as you can the night before to start your day off right. Try going to bed at the same time each night as well as reading instead of watching tv . This might take a few weeks to implement but you will find it gets easier. Should you get sick or something present itself that is unexpected these routines can save you much needed time.
How often do you ask someone how they are doing and get the response “I’m tired”? As important as time management is to balance your life style so is re-energizing your mind, body and spirit. This is different for everyone but equally important. Self-care is non-negotiable. Finding time to refresh ourselves is usually the first thing to go on our to do list. Have you ever been dealing with a problem to find you are so frustrated you can’t find the solution? The advice I have received and works well is walk away and come back to it later. This often works well for me because I’m either tired or overwhelmed within the problem. Taking just ten minutes or so to redirect our thoughts can bring new ideas to any problem.
Finding activities that excite you and give you new energy are as important as food and water to balancing your life and time. You will learn to make time for those activities as they will allow you to be more engaged in the everyday life struggles, we all experience. Whether you enjoy sports, reading, going to church or group activities find something and practice as much as you need to have the energy to follow through on your daily commitments.
The final time management tool is rest. We live in a society that is constantly busy. We need on average 7-9 hours a night of sleep. Setting up good sleeping habits is important to preforming at our best. Take a week and notice what time you go to sleep each night, did you sleep through the night, have trouble staying asleep or waking up? Take note in how you rest well. Some people just need quiet time through out the day. Others can go on four hours of sleep and be productive all day long. Each person is different and figuring out what works best for you can help you determine how much time you need to sleep. Reducing electronics up to an hour before bed could be the difference in a good night sleep. Our devices such as TV, phones, tables and computers are great for being productive but can have consequences if used at night. More on that next time.
Managing our time better can be achieved. We all are given twenty-four hours a day. How we chose to use them is up to us. Yes, we have responsibilities to others, but we also have a responsibility to ourselves. My last fortune cookie said it best “Sure you have duties to others, but what about to the duty to yourself”.
Author: Kelly Baldwin, MS, LCMHC