Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed because of the weight of your daily responsibilities? Do you feel like you are under a lot of stress?
Are you feeling the pressure of managing multiple, often conflicting priorities and tight deadlines?
Stress is like unrelieved pressure which burdens or strains your relationships, health and state of mind and can ultimately break or kill you!
On the other hand stress can also be a positive sign that you are stretching yourself beyond your comfort zone.
Regardless of how you look at it, daily consistent stress can be alleviated with better time management techniques which bring your life into balance and harmony resulting in better relationships as well as professional success.
In this article, I will introduce you to seven (7) techniques for taking better control of your time! Once you put these techniques into practice, you will achieve a better, more productive , less stressful life!
Step 1: Write Down Your Tasks
The first step is to write down everything you need to do on a daily, weekly, monthly, and annual basis.
Make sure to include things like hobbies, family outings, picnics, birthdays, professional conferences, etc. This to-do list must include every aspect of your life.
Don’t worry about the order of things at this time because all you want to do in this step is to take an exhaustive inventory of all the tasks on your plate.
Step 2: Prioritize, Prioritize, And Prioritize
You have made a thorough list of what you will like to accomplish within the next one year, now prioritize your list.
There are several ways to do this. You can put your list in a chronological order, i.e. schedule your tasks by dates on your calendar or prioritize your tasks based on the importance of each.
For example, if you are already working on a certification, you may have to get it done by a certain date in the year and as you get closer to that date, that task becomes even more important.
So, prioritize your list in the order that you feel is important or according to dates when they must be completed.
Step 3: Set Timelines and Deadlines
Unfinished tasks will pile up and create those “unwelcome feelings of pressure” if you do not place deadlines on them and create a timeline for getting things done similar to how a professional project manager plans his / her projects and tasks.
If you are coming across the words; “timeline”, “tasks” or “projects” for the first time, the following definitions will be helpful to you;
Timeline: a timeline is a schedule that shows you when (day and hour) to do something and how much time (hours) you will spend doing it.
Project: A project is a set of activities with a beginning date and an ending date organized with the purpose of achieving a set goal. A project can be compared to all the activities you have to perform to “Buy A House” while a Task may be compared to an individual activity like: “Filling out a Loan Application”.
Creating a timeline will help you avoid procrastinating. It will also keep you from feeling overwhelmed because the pile of work on your TODO list will always be manageable.
Step 4: Manage Distractions
It’s easy to become distracted from your to-do list by distractions like emails, IM chats, text messages, or social networking websites. The trick is to keep these distractions to a minimum by anticipating and block them!
You may have planned to spend a “few minutes” on updating your PROFILE on Facebook only to realize the next time you look at the clock, that you have wasted 2 hours online on an unimportant activity!
To minimize distractions, you can for example, send incoming calls to your voicemail until you complete your current task and if you have an office, you can close the door until your task is completed.
So, using “distraction management techniques” like these two tips will help you keep focused on the task at hand and get more things accomplished.
Step 5: Learn To Say “No”
Do you struggle with saying “no” to extra work, invitations to events, etc. ?
The problem with being the kind of person who doesn’t say “no” is that you are always adding to your to-do list which will again, make you feel pressured or overwhelmed!
Perhaps, you don’t say no because you fear that others may not be able to handle you saying “no” or they may never invite you to another event if you decline.
Regardless of your reason(s), start focusing on building healthy, mutually beneficial relationships instead of unhealthy, one-sided relationships that will eventually ruin your health, career or life!
Developing healthy relationships means being able to say “no” to extra work or invitations without the fear of retaliation.
Keep in mind that once you start practicing saying “no” you will begin to feel less overwhelmed and more in control of your life.
Step 6: Take a Break
Are you a workaholic? The kind of person that is always going and going like the “Eveready Energizer battery bunny“?
While workaholics believe that they accomplish more with their “always at work” lifestyle, the truth is that their performance or quality of work suffers in the long run.
This is why it is important to “learn the art” of taking breaks while at work.
Start by creating a schedule for accomplishing the things you must do (work) but at the same time schedule in lots of time to unwind, relax, regroup and refresh. In other words, have a life!
Make sure you schedule enough time for resting, keeping in mind that going to bed and getting up at the same time each day will go a long way towards getting you the rest that your body and mind needs.
During work hours, “learn to relax” by simply closing your eyes and resting your mind for a few minutes (5 to 15) every 2 to 3 hours.
Step 7: Close the Door On Distractions
Closing the door means taking a look at things that you’re doing that you can eliminate from your life.
For example, if you usually spend time with someone who is a complainer, then you may want to consider closing the door on that relationship.
Why? Because complainers are energy and time wasters who will drain the resources you need to get the things on your to-do list done!
If your diet is high in calories and cholesterol, you may have to close the door on certain foods to become healthy. Just remember that closing the door on one thing allows you to open the door to other things.
Closing the door on whiners and complainers allows you to welcome more positive people into your life. Closing the door on fatty or high calorie foods allows you to add foods high in antioxidants and protein.
So, closing doors on distractions allows you to live a more productive, happier, and healthier life.
You can achieve more than you ever thought was possible by applying these seven (7) time management techniques.
With these 7 techniques, you can create more work-life balance, better, more harmonious relationships and achieve a level of productivity that simply takes your career to the next level.