Welcome back to the Follow Your Dreams Like a Realist Series!
I am not a naturally organized person. I am a type B. I’m “forgetty.” I couldn’t tell you how old my kids are. I can’t even tell you how old I am. Because my brain tends more toward “creative,” than “organized,” I had to find some coping techniques for keeping my time and stress under control. Here are three life-changing time management and stress coping techniques.
First, if you remember nothing else, please remember this:
TIME MANAGEMENT IS STRESS MANAGEMENT.
There is no such thing as stress management. Being disorganized with our time leads to stress. Being disorganized makes bills late, which makes them more expensive. Missing a meeting makes your bosses not trust you enough to promote you which leads to a loss of income. Being frazzled makes you looks disorganized, which makes people not want to hire you. Failure to manage your time makes everything in your life worse.
Managing your time well, on the other hand, is the key to managing your stress levels. Here’s how I’ve learned to make my mind an organized place.
The Calm List
Take five minutes and write a calm list. These are quick things that you know work for you when panic sets in. When I am feeling stressed, I don’t have to worry about how to calm down; I just pull out my list and choose the thing that is calling to my soul at that particular moment. Whether it’s a yoga sequence, taking a walk, a quick prayer, or standing like Wonder Woman, write down what helps you.
When the feeling of overwhelm sets in, sneak away for five minutes and do something from your list.
When you KNOW you are too busy to take a five-minute break, that is a sure sign you will have a breakdown if you don’t take a quick time out. Taking a quick five minutes changes your outlook to give enough clarity and peace to manage the rest of the day.
The Top Three
Each night, I make a TOP THREE LIST for the next day.
This is a list that are my top priorities for the next day. If I accomplish nothing else besides these three things, I will still have been productive. I find that three deep work sessions are what my brain can handle in one day. Any more that three, and I’ve lost a good bit of concentration and creativity.
How does it work? For me, writing is a priority. I do my writing before I do anything else. If I don’t write, I don’t have a business, so I make sure I fit that in first. Doing the most important tasks first ensures that I have plenty of time, willpower, and energy to do the most important thing.
Then I pick my next two big tasks, usually grading student papers or client work.
Finally, I put errands and small tasks on a to-do list, but these are smaller activities that don’t require a lot of discipline or brainpower. These non-urgent tasks can be moved to the next day if I don’t get to them.
The Calendar Review
Finally, always review tomorrow’s calendar the night before. Choose the appropriate outfit based on the activities you’re doing. Pack the bags accordingly. If you’re going to be on the road, pack some low-carb snacks and water bottles. Check if the kids have any matches or practices. Any appointments or meetings? Gather your notes and materials.
Discovering a dirty tennis uniform is easy to fix the night before, and nearly impossible to fix the morning of a big match. It’s impossible to count how many times I’ve been saved by this night-before-calendar-review.
Photos by Ashim D’Silva & daydesigner.com.