Time Management Tips To Reduce Your Stress
April is National Stress Awareness Month but don’t stress…we’ve got you covered! We see how clutter, disorganization and chaos in our clients’ homes and offices has lead to unwanted stress and a little gray hair too!
Stress stems from not managing your time, space or your emotional reactions to stressful situations.”While we don’t have the power to prevent stressful situations from occurring, we can control our reactions to them. The practice of mindfulness – cultivating focused awareness on the present moment – has been shown to lessen stress reactions and decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol.” (Huffington Post) When you think about the future, your long To-Do list, or the upcoming event you’re planning for, it can all become incredibly overwhelming. When you stay in the moment and focus on the task at hand, you can get from one to another without the excess stress.
Taking time to transition between activities is crucial for stress reduction and time management, whether it’s a five-minute breather in between household chores, a fifteen-minute break while doing your taxes, or a quick nap after a big event. How often do you go to the grocery store, spend an hour or more shopping, load and unload the car, put the groceries away, just to jump into the next item on your To-Do list immediately after? Try giving yourself a moment before jumping into the next thing; we guarantee it will help you to accomplish the next task more efficiently.
When working with our clients, we remind them to take frequent breaks, get a drink of water and let us do the work. We want the experience to be enjoyable and to remind them that getting and staying organized doesn’t have to be a stressful process.
We found a great equation on Life Hacker to help you see how you spend your time each day. “Time management can be tough, but it often comes down to not being truly aware of how you spend your time. This formula forces you to examine your time usage while making it plain and clear what you can and cannot do in the time you have. Like many formulas, there’s a constant. In this case it’s 24 hours since we only have that many hours in the day. The rest of the formula’s variables are entirely up to your needs:
(External Expectations) + (Internal Expectations) ≤ 24 hours — (Self-Care)
(8 for work + 1 for house and pet duties) + (2 for games and TV + 1 for reading + 1 for side projects)
≤ 24 hours – (8 for sleep + 1 for eating + 1 for personal grooming)
(9) + (4) ≤ 24 hours – (10)
(13) ≤ (14)
When you add it all up, is the left side of your equation less than or equal to the right side? If not, you’re over-committing yourself, and that can lead to burnout faster than you think. Don’t be afraid to break things down even further if need be. See where you can make sacrifices or change things up if you need to. Time is a precious resource and you really don’t want to try and spend more than you have.”
1. The 15 Minute Rule
Take 15 minutes each night to get ready for the next day. Pick out your outfit each night, pack your bag and set items on the table so you don’t forget them during the morning rush. This can help you have a smoother morning and reduce your stress around getting out of the house on time.
2. Put away your digital devices
“Today we’re all carrying around an office in our pocket in the form of a smartphone.” (HBR) When you get home from work, try putting your phone out of sight or turning it off completely so you’re not checking your email during dinner or while watching TV with your family. Not only can this help you relax at home, but it will also allow your body to increase your natural melatonin levels before bed. Melatonin is a hormone that helps control our sleep and wake cycles, our bodies have internal clocks that control our natural cycle of sleeping and waking hours. Smartphones disrupt these natural cycles by emitting blue light. “This light is picked up by special cells behind our eyeballs, and it communicates to the brain that it’s morning.” (The Atlantic) This blue light stimulates the brain when it’s trying to rest, which is why people often feel so tired the next morning.
While we’re talking about finding balance between our work and home lives, why not try using an email scheduling tool like SendLater for Mac. Gmail and Outlook already have this kind of tool built in but we love iMail so we found a work-around for ourselves and our clients. Once purchased and downloaded, SendLater allows you to write emails and set a timer for when they actually leave your inbox. This is a great tool to help you find that balance because it allows you to write the email when you’re thinking about it, but not have to enter into a conversation at 9 PM on a Thursday night with your co-worker. You can program the email to send at a specific time the next day so you can stay on top of your work first thing the next morning.
There are so many products available to help manage time, but finding the right one for you is really important. I always get a few raised eyebrows when I say that I don’t bother trying to remember my To-Do list or where I need to go next. I rely heavily on physical reminders like my FitBit watch that vibrates every hour to keep me aware of the time, my Google calendar, and I use Asana for my many To-Do lists. The alarm feature on your smartphone can be used to help manage your time and labeling your alarms specific to each action can be very helpful, for example, “change laundry”, “take a break”, “take your medicine”. You can also set these through your digital calendar which will allow you to add more detail, choose multiple reminder alerts, and even add addresses and phone numbers if needed. Asana is a project management tool that can help manage your time and To-Do’s. You can set due dates and receive email alerts for upcoming deadlines. If you have multiple people using the system together you can assign items to other people. Wouldn’t it be nice to add your grocery list and then assign it to your spouse, nanny or teenage son to stop at the store on their way home? And if you all have it set up on your smartphones, then they can get an alert the moment you assign it to them so that you can focus on the other tasks on your list.
Stress can be caused by poor time management in our lives, but there are so many other ways stress can creep into our daily routines. Another huge stressor is the way our space is (or maybe isn’t) organized. Our next blog will focus on how to physically organize your space in order to reduce stress. Check back on April 25th to read more and remember to try and stay in the moment until then.