Two common complaints of highly anxious and stressed people are that they have "too much to do in too little time" and they "wish they had more hours in the day." The truth is, the more worried and stressed you are, the less energy and focus you'll have for the tasks at hand because of the draining nature of stress itself.
Therefore, the first way to better manage your time is to decrease your stress and increase your energy.
- Remember to spend some daily time on relaxation. Feeling more invigorated and relaxed for the tasks at hand will result in more output and less anxiety and stress at the same time.
In addition to taking time for relaxation and re-energizing, here are some simple, strategic activities you can do to better manage the time you have for what you need to do:
- Each morning, list every major task you need to do that day, prioritizing your tasks numerically from highest to lowest in order of importance. Then, cross off your tasks during the day as you complete (or delegate) them. If you do not complete or delegate all of the lower priority tasks by the end of the day, it shouldn't matter. By definition, these tasks are "lower priority" and don't necessarily have to be done by the end of the day. Your anxiety and stress will lessen as you strike off the most critical tasks and go lower on the list.
- List all of the current tasks you need to do during the next day, week, month, and year. Rank these tasks: either "3" (critical), "2" (important), or "1" (optional). Cross off the "1s" (the optional tasks) from your list completely. Then, write out a plan for how and when you will accomplish the "3s" (critical tasks) and the "2s" (important tasks). Post your revised list and chart your progress for accomplishing them as you only focus on your essential tasks. Delegate whatever tasks you can and systematically work to accomplish the rest. Remember, you can't do everything, so just do the best you can with the time and energy available.
- Regularly clean up and organize your main work and living space. Don't worry about cleaning and organizing the areas of your home or office you use least. Organize your work materials so you know "what is where" in a logical, user-friendly system that works best for you.
- Use a planner every morning, night, and throughout the day. Plan, check off, and re-plan again and again. Make sure your planner is portable, user-friendly, and attractive (no one will use an ugly planner!). Your planner can either be of the old-fashioned paper-and-pen variety or a sleek, electronic organizer like a Palm Pilot. Be selective and only choose a planner you like and will use.
Remember, the small work you'll invest in all of these activities should be more than worth the invigorating, time-saving results. The above time management strategies are an investment in your self. This is an excellent avenue to make your life easier. See yourself as a worthwhile person deserving of the help and assistance you will be giving yourself.
From "The Coping with Stress and Anxiety System" by Randy A. Gilchrist, Psy.D.