Reduce Stress and Stop Settling for Less Than You Deserve
If you don’t set a standard for what you’ll accept in life, you’ll find it’s easy to slip into behaviors and attitudes or a quality of life that’s far below what you deserve. ~Anthony Robbins
Does it feel like all you ever do anymore is work and there’s nothing you can do about your ballooning stress level … because after all the bills aren’t going to stop coming, there will never be more hours in the day for all your errands, and your career or family responsibilities will always be demanding.
But the truth is you have a lot more control than you might think. In fact, managing stress is all about taking charge: taking charge of your thoughts, your emotions, your schedule, your environment, and the way you deal with problems.
The ultimate goal is a balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation, and fun – plus the resilience to hold up under pressure and meet challenges head on. That’s where personal time management can make a difference.
Personal Time Management is not just about organizing your email, clearing your desk, or organizing your schedule … it’s about everything you do; with the ultimate desired outcome of creating a balanced life-style. To put it another way, it’s not about doing more and being busier, it’s about achieving more rewarding results.
Let’s first take a look at the 6 areas of focus in personal time management:
- Physical: Developing a healthy body; this will mean less stress and fatigue.
- Intellectual: Making connections, seeing the worldviews and values behind ideas and behavior in the world around us.
- Social: Cultivating rewarding personal relationships and actively contributing to society.
- Career: Continuing education and finding or creating self-fulfilling work.
- Emotional: Learning to control your emotions rather than allowing your emotions, or those of the people around you, to control you.
- Spiritual: Intentional focus on one’s spiritual and interior life.
Take heart, thoroughly planning and creating a detailed “to do” list for each of the key areas is neither practical nor desirable; however where personal time management planning can serve a purpose is by determining which area in your life is not being giving enough attention. Each area combines to create the whole you, if you are ignoring one area then you are ignoring an important part of yourself.
Alert! No matter how good the time management tip, won’t make a bit of difference if you don’t “replace” the behavior
It’s important to keep in mind, especially before beginning any effort to organize your time, that it won’t matter how good the time management tip, skill or technique is – in order for it to make a difference in your life – you have to have a plan to replace the task(s) you’ve just eliminated with some other activity.
Let’s say you have a goal to spend more time with your family each day – and I give you a time management solution that ends up saving you an extra two hours a day – now what will you do with that time to achieve your goal? If you don’t have a plan ready on exactly how you’re going to spend that newly freed time, you can count on it being sucked up with other things and you’ll end up wondering where the time went, probably feeling like time management didn’t help you at all, and still wishing you could spend more time with your family.
Taking the first step …
We need to start with a little tough love. It’s easy to focus on the big things in your life like work and family as the primary time zappers, but the truth is we all waste time every day in many more ways than we realize (or are willing to admit).
- We waste time when we surf the web “to take a break” when we’re really avoiding doing work that makes us uncomfortable.
- We waste time when we flip channels looking for something interesting when we’re actually avoiding doing something meaningful that would require work we don’t feel like doing.
- We waste time when we engage in escape activities that are disguised as “unwinding” – afterwards, we end up feeling like we haven’t relaxed at all.
- We say “the day got away from us,” but in a lot of cases, we gave the day permission to go where it pleased.
So, the first step is commitment. You must decide that change is more important than almost anything else. If you don’t feel you’re saving your life then you won’t make the tough changes needed.
Set your priorities
- Determine your goals and priorities in life. Really think about the things you actually have to do as opposed to things you think you have to do. Often times the lines are blurred because we over commit or feel obligated to do things that aren’t in line with our goals and rob us of valuable time.
- Don’t do other people’s work. Focus on your projects and goals, learn to delegate, and teach others how to do their own work.
- Keep a goal journal. Start a journal and write down your progress for each goal. Go through your goal journal each week to make sure you are on the right track.
- Beware of “filler” tasks. Be careful not to get distracted by “filler” tasks – organizing your bookcase or filing papers can wait until you tackle the items that have the highest priority.
- Utilize “productive procrastination.” Procrastination doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing if you use it to delay working on low priority tasks that may not need to be done at all
- Apply the 80/20 rule. Some tasks have a much greater return on your investment of time and energy than others. Use prioritization to identify and focus your time on these high payoff tasks.
- Avoid attempting to do too much. If you spread your time and energy over too many different projects, you may not be able to make meaningful progress on any of them. Good time management often requires that you focus your time on a smaller set of objectives.
Myths about Time Management
Myth #1: Planning my time just takes more time. Research shows just the opposite.
Myth #2: I get more done in more time when I use caffeine, sugar, alcohol or nicotine. Research shows that the body eventually has to “come down” and when it does, you’re likely to lose energy and momentum.
Myth #3: A time management problem means that there’s not enough time to get done what needs to get done. No, it’s not using your time to your fullest advantage, to get done what you want done.
Myth #4: The busier I am, the better I’m using my time. Look out! You may only be doing what’s urgent, and not what’s important.
Be prepared …
Anytime you decide to stop settling for less and to start changing your life, you’re very likely going to have to overcome resistance from the people who you are closest to. We tend to live in a “flock” – our peer group’s standards tend to drive our own –so when we raise the bar, we rock the boat.
When you walk away from the television to do something more meaningful, expect some rolled eyes from those on the couch. When you decline a lunch out with co-workers so you can study something that will change your future, be prepared for whispers behind your back. And when you say no to seconds or dessert, be ready for your overweight friends telling you to “live a little” and to “stop being so serious all the time.”
From the moment “quality” becomes a priority when determining how you’ll invest your time, you begin opening the door to new opportunities and to a greater sense of freedom born from the realization that you are, in the truest sense, creating your best life.
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