How to Manage Your Stress and Time Even Better

Time management is the key to efficient working

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Myths about Stress and Time Management

  1. All stress is bad.
    No. There's good and bad stress. Good stress is excitement, thrills, etc. The goal is to recognize personal signs of bad stress and deal with them.
  2. Planning my time just takes more time.
    Actually, research shows the opposite.
  3. I get more done in more time when I wisely use caffeine, sugar or nicotine.
    Wrong! Research shows that the body always has to "come down" and when it does, you can't always be very effective then after the boost.
  4. A time management problem means that there's not enough time to get done what needs to get done.
    No. A time management problem is not using your time to your fullest advantage, to get done what you want done.
  5. The busier I am, the better I'm using my time.
    Look out! You may only be doing what's urgent, and not what's important.
  6. I feel very busy, so I must have a time management problem.
    Not necessarily. You should verify that you have a time management problem. This requires knowing what you really want to get done and if it is getting done or not.
  7. I feel OK, so I must not be stressed.
    In reality, many adults don't even know when they're really stressed out until their bodies tell them so. They miss the early warning signs from their body, for example, headaches, still backs, twitches, etc.
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Major Causes of Workplace Stress

  1. Poor planning - not knowing what you want or if you're getting it
  2. The feeling that there's too much to do (or feeling even if there's hardly anything to do at all)
  3. Not enjoying your job. This can be caused by lots of things, for example, not knowing what you want, not eating well, etc. However, most people always blame their jobs.
  4. Conflicting demands on the job.
  5. Insufficient resources to do the job.
  6. Not feeling appreciated

Biggest Time Wasters

  1. Distractions & interruptions. This includes IM chats, messaging etc.There will always be interruptions. It's how they're handled that wastes time.
  2. Procrastination - putting off tasks.
  3. Not being able to say 'no'
  4. Poor delegation skills. This involves not sharing work with other
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Common Symptoms of Poor Stress and Time Management

  1. Irritability. (Co-workers notice this first).
  2. Difficulty concentrating
  3. Simple decisions become big problems
  4. You become edgy and unreasonable
  5. Your muscles tense and you may also experience chest pains and nausea
  6. Fatigue. How many adults even notice this
  7. Forgetfulness. You can't remember what you did all day, what you ate yesterday.
  8. Loss of sleep. This affects everything else!
  9. Physical disorders, for example, headaches, rashes, tics, cramps, etc.
  10. At worst, withdrawal and depression.

Wise Principles of Good Stress and Time Management

  1. Create or maintain a balanced lifestyle - this includes balance at work and home
  2. Identify issues in your working environment that cause you stress - poor lighting, messy area, chair the wrong height etc
  3. Be organised - plan your week, plan your day the night before, delegate activities
  4. Learn to say no - there are times when this is appropriate
  5. Breathe deeply and lower your voice - when we are stressed we tend to take short, shallow breaths. A few deep breaths can calm you down.
  6. Do not accept the stress that a colleague subjects you do. If someone is not pulling their weight this must be addressed instead of taking on extra burdens.
  7. Make time for you! Plan one treat everyday that is for you. This could be anything from watching your favourite TV programme to reading a book or going for a walk. This helps create the balance needed to manage time and stress more effectively.
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Simple Techniques to Manage Stress

There are lots of things people can do to cut down on stress. Most people probably even know what they could do. It's not the lack of knowing what to do in order to cut down stress; it is doing what you know you have to do. The following techniques are geared to help you do what you know you have to do.

  1. Talk to someone. You don't have to fix the problem, just report it.
  2. Notice if any of the muscles in your body are tense. Just noticing that will often relax the muscle.
  3. Ask your boss if you're doing OK. This simple question can make a lot of difference and verify wrong impressions.
  4. Delegate.
  5. If you take on a technique to manage stress, tell someone else. They can help you be accountable to them and yourself.
  6. Cut down on caffeine and sweets. Take a walk instead. Tell someone that you're going to do that.
  7. Use basic techniques of planning, problem solving and decision making.
  8. Concise guidelines are included in this guidebook. Tell someone that you're going to use these techniques.
  9. Monitor the number of hours that you work in a week. Tell your boss, family and/or friends how many hours that you are working.
  10. Write weekly status reports. Include what you've accomplished last week and plan to do next week. Include any current issues or recommendations that you must report to your boss. Give the written status report to your boss on a weekly basis.
  11. "Wash the dishes". Do something you can feel good about.

Simple Techniques to Manage Time

There never seems to be enough time in the roles of management and supervision. Therefore, the goal of time management should not be to find more time. The goal is set a reasonable amount of time to spend on these roles and then use that time wisely.

  1. Start with the simple techniques of stress management above.
  2. Managing time takes practice. Practice asking yourself this question throughout the day: "Is this what I want or need to be doing right now?" If yes, then keep doing it.
  3. Find some way to realistically and practically analyze your time. Logging your time for a week in 15-minute intervals is not that hard and does not take up that much time. Do it for a week and review your results.
  4. Do a "todo" list for your day. Do it at the end of the previous day. Mark items as "A" and "B" in priority. Set aside two hours right away each day to do the important "A" items and then do the "B" items in the afternoon. Let your answering machine take your calls during your "A" time.
  5. At the end of your day, spend five minutes cleaning up your space. Use this time, too, to organize your space, including your desktop. That'll give you a clean start for the next day.
  6. Learn the difference between "Where can I help?" and "Where am I really needed?" Experienced leaders learn that the last question is much more important than the former.
  7. Learn the difference between "Do I need to do this now?" and "Do I need to do this at all?" Experienced leaders learn how to quickly answer this question when faced with a new task.
  8. Delegate. Delegation shows up as a frequent suggestion in this guide because it is one of the most important skills for a leader to have. Effective delegation will free up a great deal of time for you.
  9. If you are CEO in a corporation, then ask your Board for help. They are responsible to supervise you, as a CEO. Although the Board should not be micro-managing you, that is, involved in the day-to-day activities of the corporation, they still might have some ideas to help you with your time management. Remember, too, that good time management comes from good planning, and the Board is responsible to oversee development of major plans. Thus, the Board may be able to help you by doing a better themselves in their responsibilities as planners for the organization.
  10. Use a "Do Not Disturb" sign! During the early part of the day, when you're attending to your important items (your "A" list), hang this sign on the doorknob outside your door.
  11. Sort your mail into categories including "read now", "handle now" and "read later". You'll quickly get a knack for sorting through your mail. You'll also notice that much of what you think you need to read later wasn't really all that important anyway.
  12. Read your mail at the same time each day. That way, you'll likely get to your mail on a regular basis and won't become distracted into any certain piece of mail that ends up taking too much of your time.
  13. Have a place for everything and put everything in its place. That way, you'll know where to find it when you need it. Another important outcome is that your people will see that you are somewhat organized, rather than out of control.
  14. Best suggestion for saving time - schedule 10 minutes to do nothing. That time can be used to just sit and clear your mind. You'll end up thinking more clearly, resulting in more time in your day. The best outcome of this practice is that it reminds you that you're not a slave to a clock - and that if you take 10 minutes out of your day, you and your organization won't fall apart.
  15. Learn good meeting management skills. Meetings can become a terrible waste of time. Guidelines for good meeting management are included later in this section.

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Role of "Gumption"

Everything good usually starts with gumption. It's picking yourself up, deciding that you could be happier, that you want to be happier - and then doing one small thing to get you started and keep you going. Boredom and blaming are the opposite of gumption. Stress and time management start with gumption. It's the trying that counts. Poor time and stress management often comes from doing the same thing harder, rather than smarter

Secrets of time management

Control your time or others will control it for you
Organise your time so that you don't lose it

Set up a good time management system and stick to it

Do top priority tasks first

Divide big jobs into manageable steps

Do one thing at a time

Do it now!

How does effective time management affect productivity?

Productivity can be described as getting the most done in the least possible time. With effective time management skills, a manager will be able to get more done in less time from himself and from his team.  Let me give you an example – most managers call weekly meetings and this is how they normally flow: 

  • People stroll in 5 – 10 minutes late
  • There is a lot of non-essential talk then takes place
  • Once the topic of discussion is aired it sometimes get’s derailed by newer items
  • Meetings tend to run over time
  • Action points and meeting minutes are circulated and not followed up on 

If you multiply the amount of time taken for an ineffective meeting with the number of people there and the amount of money the company pays them per hour – poor time management can be very expensive.  An effective meeting would look like this 

  • Agenda circulated before hand
  • People walk in on time
  • Points are discussed as per the agenda
  • No derailment is allowed – matters are put on hold for the time being
  • Meetings close on time 
  • Action items are circulated and followed up with before the next meeting takes place.  
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What effect does time management have on your career?

There are numerous benefits of being able to manage time effectively in terms of your career; here are the top ten positive effects of time management on your career:

  • It is a coveted skill and one that will be recognized by your boss, team and supervisors. 
  • It allows you to work on extra projects take on larger workloads or manage bigger projects – all of which could lead to your next promotion. 
  • It helps you manage your team more effectively which is a big plus for a manager.
  • Being able to manage time effectively lets you delegate better which is an important aspect of building up your team.
  • You will earn a reputation for always sticking to schedules and timelines.
  • You can set yourself higher goals and achieve them e.g. earning an extra degree, attending a training program.
  • You will be able to prioritize tasks and do the most important and urgent one’s first therefore avoiding last minute juggling of projects.
  • Will effectively manage interruptions and take control of your time.
  • Manage meetings in order to ensure maximum productivity for your team.

How the understanding of the definition of time management can help managers design more effective plans.

As a manager knowing the rules or techniques of time management can help you design more effective work plans for you and your teams. It helps you identify what are the most urgent tasks that need to get done every day, what tasks are critical to achieving your teams objectives and what tasks can be eliminated altogether. It helps you allocate resources effectively, conduct more effective meetings, meet deadlines and achieve results. It also helps when working on long term projects which can be broken down into short-term daily or weekly goals rather than on large daunting task. Also you team will benefit from learning about effective time management techniques simply by observing you or imitating what you do