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Three Strategies to Manage Time and Reduce Stress

Updated: Apr 3, 2021

Lack of time is considered by many as one of the biggest nemesis’ and triggers of stress. Often, we become increasingly stressed when we feel we are constantly racing against the clock to complete our most important tasks. What many seem to be unaware of (or fail to realize) is when managed effectively time can be on your side rather than working work against you.

Finding effective ways to improve time management skills, may significantly impact the ability to manage stress, this stems from the fact that as humans we like to be in control of the events in our lives. When we feel even the slightest hint we are not in control, stress creeps in and begins to fester. Effectively managing time may help to keep stress at bay and provide a greater sense of control which helps reduce stress thus contributing to a better quality of life.

Develop Better Time Management Skills

Time management is a prized skill that with purpose and focus anyone can possess. With proper time management it is possible to do more in the same amount of time and increase the potential to reduce or eliminate stress, increase productivity, and improve the quality of output.

While there are many factors that may induce stress the most common factors, the common struggle for many is failing to plan and prioritize accordingly. As a result, time is often allocated to non/low value activities which in turn impedes the person’s ability to focus on their most important tasks. To help overcome this here are three best practices that may help develop better time management skills and potentially reduce stress levels.

1. Prioritize, Plan, and Repeat

One key skill to learn when it comes to proper time management is prioritization. Prioritization is the action or process of deciding the relative importance or urgency of things. When it comes to task prioritization it is important to identify the most important tasks that need to be completed, when they must be completed, and why they are the most important. There are numerous resources and methods online to help with task prioritization and I recommend people conduct their own research to find one that best to meets your individual needs. One method I have found useful is the 3-MI / 1-MI from Jason Selk’s book Organize Tomorrow Today. This method places focus on organizing tasks into two categories: the three most important (3MI) and the one most important (1MI) task. Once prioritization has been determined, equally as important is scheduling time to plan. Commit scheduling 10-15min daily to do nothing but plan the next day or week and schedule time blocks on your calendar for each specific task. Lastly faithfully commit yourself to completing these tasks based on priority before moving on to something else.

2. Identify and Eliminate Time Saboteurs

Time Saboteurs are all around, fact is you may be reading this on one right now. Time saboteurs are those non-value things or activities that prevent you from completing your most important tasks. Take a moment and identify the things that most commonly get in your way and cause you to waste time that could be allocated more productively. Look around your physical surroundings and identify those saboteurs that are starring back at you begging for your time. Once you have done that identify one thing you can do immediately to reduce (and eventually eliminate) that time saboteur when it comes to completing the things you must get done.

3. Acknowledge the Tradeoff

It is important to continually reflect on how well you are prioritizing your time and keeping those time saboteurs at bay. Once you’ve done this it is important to acknowledge the trade-off when not spending the time on achieving your goals. In some instance the tradeoff may well be worth it and others not so much. The point here is not to isolate yourself from the world, it is rather to be aware and ensure you are effectively using your time in a way that will increase the probability of achieving your most important goals. By doing so you will regain control, be happier, and less stressed.

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