Monday, September 22, 2014
By DONNA M. WHITE, LMHC, CACP
When you learn and maintain good time management skills, you’ll find freedom from deadline pressure and from stress in general. You’ll be more productive, procrastinate less, and have more time to relax, which helps further decrease stress and anxiety.
Time management skills are like shoes or a good pair of jeans — you may have to try several pair before you find just the right fit. They’re different for each person and you have to find what works best for you. Below are a few that work for me which you may want to borrow.
- Make a list.The thing about making lists is that you actually have to use them. You may want to set reminders on your phone and computer.Lists really do work if you use them. One of the most important things is to make sure your list feels attainable. No one wants a 30-item to-do list and have to, at the end of the day, look at the 20 items that didn’t get done. Prioritize yours and others’ needs and plan accordingly. You might even want to make three lists — personal, home and work.
- Set deadlines. Again, there is no point in setting deadlines if you make executive decisions to always push them back. Set a deadline and try your best to stick to it. Set your deadline a few days before the task absolutely has to be done. This allows for the possibility that other things will get in the way, but also allow for you still to get the task done.
- Stop multi-tasking. Multitaskers often seem to think they get more accomplished, but it’s not always the most productive or efficient route. Let’s face it, our minds work better when we are truly able to focus and concentrate on one thing.
- Delegate responsibilities. For those of us who like to be in control the very thought of this is likely to provoke a bit of anxiety. The truth of the matter is that no matter how good we are, we can’t do everything. Sometimes we take on more than we can handle. Delegation is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of intelligence. Find competent, reliable people and share some of the responsibilities. It will allow you to be less stressed and more productive.
- Use your downtime. This tip requires some balance. Using all of your downtime for planning and prioritizing is bad and can lead to increased stress and burnout. However, if you find yourself sitting in early morning traffic, this may be a good time to start prioritizing your day or making plans for dinner. If you’re waiting in the doctor’s office, this may be a good time to write the grocery list. (Just don’t forget it.) If you have opportunities like these make the best of them, but also remember to use them for relaxation as needed.
- Reward yourself.When you accomplish something, celebrate it! How you celebrate is up to you. My word of advice is to keep whatever you choose to do healthy, make sure it’s something you really enjoy, don’t do it in excess, and don’t let it cause you to get further behind.Time management skills are an essential part of making your day just a little easier. Find what works for you and stick to it.