Managing Your Stress by Managing Your Time Are you one of those people who wishes you had a 30-hour day? Do you long for having enough time to homeschool your children, cook gourmet meals, tend a garden, care for a large, five-bedroom house, play the piano, and sit by the fire reading a good book? The fact of the matter is many Americans today are operating under a time crunch. We simply don’t have enough hours in the day to accomplish all that we want to. The situation creates an enormous amount of stress. We may feel as if we are constantly operating under a deadline. We may feel fatigued and frustrated, and we may wonder if we are missing out on much of life because we spend so much time “doing” and not enough time “thinking.” We’re stressed at work, stressed at home, and stressed at our son’s soccer match. The irony is, the more we do, the more behind we seem to get. We are constantly on the run, yet we may feel as if we are accomplishing very little. As a result, our pessimism grows. We may become short-tempered, especially with those we love. We may feel as if we are constantly running on empty. The good news is there is hope, even in the midst of what might seem a hopeless situation. We can get control of our lives and control of our time. It may take a little bit of effort and time, but it will be well worth it in the long run. The first step we need to take is prioritization. Many people feel as if they lack time to do the important things in life simply because they do not take the time to prioritize. Write down a list of your goals for the week, for the year, and for the next five years. When you do your initial brainstorming, you can list the goals in any order you like. Then go through the goals and rank them in order of importance. After that task is completed, figure out just how much time you would need to accomplish each goal. You may find that just five minutes here or there can make all the difference in the world in achieving the items on your priority list. Next, learn to multi-task effectively. That time you spend waiting in the line at the drive-thru window could be spent balancing your checkbook. Or the time you spend paused at the cash register could be used to read a book or a magazine. In general, you should not think of lines as time-wasters. Rather, consider them opportunities to accomplish some small, yet important, tasks. In order to be effective as a worker, spouse, and parent, you’ll need some alone time. Get an appointment book and actually schedule a block of time just for yourself. Your alone time could be spent praying, re-evaluating your priorities, charting your progress, or just fixing yourself a nice dessert. Just be sure that you have some alone time each day. Otherwise, you’ll be shortchanging yourself, and you’ll feel more stressed as a result. Don’t be afraid to say no. You cannot be a cub scout leader, girl scout leader, fundraising chair, and prima ballerina all at one time. You’ll need to pick and choose your assignments, both your professional assignments and your personal ones. If you simplify your life, you might be surprised at how much time you’ll gain—and how much better you will feel. Sometimes, it takes some backbone to say no. You might disappoint someone. But, in the end, you’ll be much better off, knowing that you have not overcommitted yourself. You should consider your time to be as precious as the President’s. There are a number of duties which make demands on your time, those you love and those you don’t care for. By employing some innovative scheduling techniques, you can set aside the time for those things that are truly important to you. You’ll be less stressed, more relaxed, and better able to cope with the challenges you encounter on a daily basis. As you become less stressed out, you might find that your children, spouse, and friends follow your lead. And your world will become more harmonious as a result.
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