Monday, February 6, 2012

Manage Stress by Managing Your Time

I've recently come to the conclusion that is not easy to simultaneously:

Work a full-time job
Be a full-time grad student
Plan a wedding
Have a social life
Work out
Keep my apartment clean
Prepare healthy, home cooked meals
Keep up with my writing and my blog

I've been balancing them decently well so far, but I'll be honest, when I'm doing one thing, I'm feeling guilty about not spending that exact moment on the all of the other things I have to do--and it's starting to stress me out!

Sounds crazy, right?
How can anyone do more than one thing at once?

Sound familiar?

I'd love to hear what tips and skills you've developed to improve your time management and maintain a low stress level, but in the mean time, I wanted to share something that I hope will be an encouragement to all who have plates that are simply too full!

 One thing at a time
    Many of us have bought into the delusion that we can do it all. The bad news is we can't, but the good news is it's okay. At the beginning of your week and beginning of each day, write out a list of tasks--be sure to include things you want to do and not just what you have to do. Then, prioritize and when you're completing one task, be all in. If you're going out to lunch with a girlfriend, put the project you have next out of your mind and enjoy yourself. If you're working on a project, don't worry about what's for dinner tonight. By allowing yourself to do one task at a time you'll be simplifying your process and therefore eliminating wasted time.

    Learn when to say no
      Hi. My name is Nicole and I'm a people pleaser. Oh? You too? Stinks, doesn't it? Our inner approval addict yearns for nothing more than to make sure everyone is happy. But having little to no time to ourselves and to complete the things that are important to us just isn't cutting it. To remedy this, create clear boundaries at work, at home, and with your friends. I've tried it an learned that if you don't cater to the needs of everyone else, before your own, you'll not only will you live, but you'll be healthier, happier and better able do the things that are important to you and those you love.

      Learn when to say yes
        Just like it's sometimes hard to say no when we don't have time, the other side of the coin is fear of overcommitment. Whether it's coffee with a girlfriend or attending a concert, I often find myself worrying that saying yes to anything other than the "essential work" will force me to fall behind. However, it's important to remember that cultivating meaningful relationships is even more important than getting items checked off of your to-do list. It's all about the balance.

        Take mental health breaks to just breathe
          Even if it's just five minutes, sometimes taking a break to stretch and slow down your breathing throughout the day can make all the difference. Taking these little breaks allows your brain to temporarily disconnect and reboot. You'll return to your task/work  a little bit more relaxed and better able to focus. Try doing two or three of these a day and you'll be amazed how much they help!

          Cut out the non-essentials
             This takes discipline, but after you evaluate the ways in which you spend your time, start cutting out small things. I did a time audit recently and I found that I was spending quite a bit of time on Pinterest and facebook... both websites I enjoy, but don't further my future. In fact, wasting time on either of these leaves me feeling stressed out. Now I "treat" myself to checking Facebook and Pinterest for two ten minute periods (total) a day. It's remarkable how much time I have to do other things. 

            Ask for help when you need it
            If you're truly swamped, make small adjustments to be smart about your workload and ask for help if you need it. Whether it be carpooling, hosting a potluck instead a four-course meal, asking a friend to do a guest post on your blog or have a friend help you with something you really need, there is no shame in asking for help. While you may or may not get it, and you certainly shouldn't take advantage of people, it never hurt anyone to ask for a helping hand! When things slow down you can always repay the favor!

            Hope these help!
            What are some things you do to help eliminate stress?


              hlpie said...

              As a co-sharer-of-stress of most of these things (replace wedding planning with job-searching!) :) I think your list of ways to tackle the crazy is a great one! I hope you are doing well and be encouraged - you are and will do great things :)

              Anonymous said...

              Oh I needed to read this! I have been so stressed! But I deleted Facebook (shocking and sadly hard at first but now I feel great) and it is amazing how much time opened up! :) Hope you are feeling less stressed!

              tammyhelfrich said...

              Great post! Sorry we didn't get to meet at Quitter. I look forward to following your journey!

              Anonymous said...

              This was a great post and I was thinking of putting something similar on mine - great tips! I very much struggle the same way and am looking for tips on motivating myself and managing everything on the never-ending to-do list!