Stress, and the link with time management

Stress is related to pressure but is not the same stress is when the pressure is more than you can handle. Different people find different things stressful (I would rather speak at a conference of 300 people than queue at a post office) and different people can handle different amounts of pressure.

Whilst the largest causes of stress are the big life events: marriage, divorce, job change, house move, bereavement etc, most of your day to day stress right now is probably coming from bad time management.

All those small things, not written down, too many to remember, too many to do in the time you’ve got, untidy desk, people interrupting, jobs being procrastinated, etc

Reduce the amount coming in, by

Reducing the activities that you do: are there any that you no longer enjoy, which you could cut out?
Reducing the contact with people who add stress to your life, or improving the way you handle them.
Avoiding particular situations that you know cause you stress
Delegating more in order to reduce your workload
After delegating, monitor progress so you know that all tasks are in control and are going to plan.
Never taking work home with you without questioning “Is it really necessary?”

Improve your ability to cope by using techniques, such as

Having clear goals: not only does this help you to decide what is important, but it also gives you a real feeling of making progress.
Reducing the time spent responding to non-important tasks by focusing on your goals, saying “No”, and doing some jobs less well.
Increasing the time spent on planning and self development in order to reduce the number of urgent problems.
Taking action rather than procrastinating.
Get all the facts rather than speculating and worrying.
Fear of the unknown and pessimism about the future can be reduced by getting the facts. If you let fear of bad news prevent you facing up to issues, you will be living with stress and the issue is unlikely to go away.

Improve your ability to cope by using techniques, such as

Practicing assertiveness as a substitute for submission or aggression.
Thinking: no one else has the right to make me angry: I decide that.
Controlling interruptions.
Keeping your desk tidy.
Writing everything down, especially jobs-to-do and problems that need attention.
Having a clear plan for tomorrow (a jobs-to-do-list).
Realising that a perfectly dove-tailed day with 100% of time allocated before it starts is a recipe for lateness and stress. Plan in some spaces for unspecified events which will probably crop up, and use these for box 3 tasks if the events don’t crop up.
Writing a list of all the problems, their worst possible outcomes, and listing the possible action choices.

Improve your ability to cope, as a person, by Physical improvements:

Spend 20 minutes every other day on fitness.
Enjoying “release” sports, like squash, cycling or weight training.
Doing exciting / frightening sports like rock climbing, which help put small worries into context.
Taking up relaxing activities like fishing or walking.
Getting enough sleep

Improve your ability to cope, as a person, by Getting your close relationships right

Improving the balance of home and work.
Spending enough time with people who are important to you.
Being open in your relationships: expressing feelings and giving sincere compliments.
Overcoming your Be Strong driver if necessary.
Listening, and showing that you have understood.
Talk frankly to your boss about your objectives and progress.

Enlist the help and support of others

Ask for advice.
Listen to advice and weigh it up impartially before judging it.
Don’t play “Yes But…”.
Take the advice, act on it, and thank the provider for it.

Self development

Read (develop a list of books to investigate by looking in the bibliographies of books you found useful).
Associate with and learn from people whom you would like to emulate

Positive thought

Let go of the past: grudges and regret are like little coiled springs in your head which take mental effort to maintain, adding stress and reducing your ability to be positive and make progress.
Consciously enjoy the present: say to yourself “This is great!”, “This is the life!”, “This is an adventure!”. Saying these words, either in head or, preferably, out loud, will influence your subconscious and become true.
Practice seeing problems as opportunities.
Avoid dwelling on negative possibilities.
Visualise good outcomes in situations.
Visualise a good long term future for yourself.