Time management can be described as the ability to use one’s time effectively or productively, especially at work. In essence, time management is finding the time for everything you want to, or need to, accomplish on a daily or weekly basis. A core feature of time management is prioritisation – the ability to ascertain and decide which tasks are urgent and need to be focused on at a specific point in time, as opposed to tasks which can be attended to at a later stage. Learning how to manage your time may be a difficult skill to grasp, but once mastered can assist in the leading of a less stressful and more meaningful life.
Time management involves a multi-faceted approach. Each and every individual is different and requires their own tailored formula to achieve equilibrium. However, working on these time and stress management techniques as set out below and formulating the time management cocktail that fuels and assists your everyday lifestyle is imperative in unlocking the efficient and stress-free lifestyle we all strive to achieve.
1. Prioritise your tasks:
Lists, lists and more lists. Draw up a list of all your tasks and activities for the day, or the week, and rate these tasks in order of urgency and importance.
Urgent tasks are those that need be done right away to avoid major problems or issues. These are usually tasks that have concrete deadlines.
Important tasks are those that are meaningful or important to you. This may even involve a more personalised outlook where such tasks involve spending time with your friends and family, or focusing on your personal well-being. Leaving an important task until it becomes an urgent one is often where individuals create situations that lead to panic. Focus on these tasks in order to avoid self-created matters of urgency.
Non-important tasks are those that do not need to be done or that are not necessarily important to you.
Once you have created your lists and ranked your tasks according to the above criteria, analyse your list and reflect on how you are spending your time. Taking care of important tasks in a timely manner will create the reality where you won’t have as many urgent tasks to stress about. Redirect your time to tasks that are important and meaningful to you. Perhaps you will realise that you are spending excessive time on tasks that are not urgent or important to you. Perhaps there are even tasks that you do not need to do at all.
2. Avoid procrastination:
The more stressful, boring, or unpleasant the task, the more likely you are to put it off. This only causes one result – an increase in stress.
Controlling your procrastination may be done in the following ways:
Structure your time: Use a day planner to plan your days. Visualising written time constraints helps the brain understand that there are tasks to be achieved by specific time-based deadlines and prevents procrastinating unnecessarily.
Short-term deadlines: The creation of short-term deadlines helps an individual make a habit of meeting deadlines. Similarly, when the long-term deadline arrives, the pressure and work required to attain such goal will not have accumulated to an intolerable and uncontrollable degree.
3. Manage your commitments:
Do not commit to tasks that are unimportant to you. Similarly, do not commit to tasks that you know you are unable to devote your time to. Advising your co-worker that you are unable to commit to a task is not a failure, but the recognition that you are a cog in the wheel of teamwork where communication is imperative to the overall success of a business or company. Ask for help when needed instead of failing to achieve tasks and deadlines due to the inability to delegate or ask for help
On the other hand, and most importantly, once you commit to a task, take your commitment seriously and do what needs to be done to complete your task timeously and properly.
4. Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries:
The importance of clearly dividing your work life and your personal life is imperative. This division allows us to fully control both the personal and professional aspects of our lives accordingly. Try to limit your professional tasks to the confines of your office. If this means spending an extra hour or two at work, so be it. This distinction will allow you to be able to transition from the professional you to the personal you with increased ease allowing you to focus only on your personal self once returning to your home and family life.
No matter the individual, or the profession in question, everyone has their own stresses in life to some extent or degree. However, understanding that stress management and time management go hand in hand is the key to managing the inevitable stresses that arise during one’s lifetime. Focus on improving your time management with the tips as discussed above and you will concurrently begin to lower and manage your stress levels.
The key is in not spending time, but in investing it.