How Time Management Can Reduce Stress

Stress is a topic familiar to most of us in the Western world and they say that stress is a normal part of life for everyone.

The physiological response to stress, sometimes known as the ‘fight-or-flight response’, is a system that switches on when the brain perceives danger, setting off numerous reactions within the body to create a rapid boost of energy and high state of arousal.

When the need to fight or flee has passed, the body then adjusts the ‘stress thermostat’ and all the hormone levels go back to normal levels.

This rapid response to any threat to our survival was particularly useful to our ancestors in the face of a marauding sabre-toothed tiger or a hungry dinosaur.

In modern society, we face this kind of immediate life-threatening danger relatively infrequently. However, we still may experience this physiological response on occasion in certain situations, such as during altercations, when receiving some shocking news or when we are required to do something that we may find scary, like pubic speaking.

More common these days is a different kind of stress.

It’s an insidious, more chronic underlying kind that never seems to switch off and physiologically, it’s like the body is in a permanent state of ‘fight or flight’.

And this is not good.

Because in case you haven’t already heard – stress is bad for you.

It enhances inflammation within the body and leads to the deterioration in everything from your gums to your heart and can make you more susceptible to everything from the common cold to cancer, which can lead to lowered immunity and various illnesses and conditions.1

So, acute stress is your reaction to challenges and situations around you and it can serve a useful purpose at times. Chronic stress is not so useful, but the good news is that it is not inevitable and it can be managed.

There are many things in life these days that might cause stress, but the most common source is probably the workplace.

Although there can be several contributing factors, such as demanding bosses and friction between co-workers, the biggest culprit is the overcommitment of your time, yourself simply having too much to do and not enough time to do it.

And so taking control of how we manage our time can go a long way towards reducing our stress levels.

Here are a few suggestions for making the workplace a much less stressful place.

1. Audit your time

Sometimes we think that we are working efficiently, but are we working effectively? Are we being productive or are we just being busy?

Taking an audit to establish exactly how you spend your time each day can reveal some telling truths about what you actually do with your time.

Check out this post: How To Audit Your Time

2. Create a daily schedule

Scheduling your time helps you to control your time. I like to use time blocking, which entails blocking out periods of time for certain activities throughout the week.

If you don’t schedule your time, someone else is going to be controlling your time for you and that invariably leads to having to take on more than you have time for, which results in stress.

Check out this post: How To Create A Schedule

Stop juggling tasks /Image by Theodor Moise

3. Stop multi-tasking

I don’t care how good you think you are at juggling several tasks at once, it’s an ineffective way to work and there are scientific studies to support this.

If you find yourself multitasking at work, you’ve probably overcommitted your time, which usually ends up in stress.

Instead, try to single-task. Focus on one task alone until you have completed it and then move on to the next.

4. Set life-work boundaries

While technology and the wonderful versatility and portability of our devices have made work easier in so many ways, there is also a dark side to it.

And that is, the lines between home and work have now become blurred.

It used t be that when you finished work at 5 pm, you left the office, went home and didn’t have to think about work again until the following morning. Now, we end up taking our laptops home and it is almost expected that we are accessible via email and phone 24 hours a day.

Creating boundaries between work and home life will help you to relax in the evenings and will help to reduce work-related stress.

5. Control your Inbox

Many of us spend way too much time in our Inboxes. Email is a fantastic communication tool, but it is not our job. If you are in the habit of checking your Inbox regularly throughout the day, you are working in a way that is not only inefficient, but is also likely to create added stress.

Since I started using the Inbox Zero technique, my productivity has rocketed and I no longer feel compelled to check my emails several times each hour. I now process my email once a day at a set time and don’t go near it again except maybe to send out a few emails at the end of the day if required.

Checking your emails compulsively serves no purpose unless you are actually going to take action.

Also, if you are constantly checking your emails, you are working to someone else’s agenda reactively and you don’t have control over your time. Result? Stress.

Check out this post: Does Inbox Zero Work?

6. Understand your role

Sometimes we are not super clear on what our job actually entails. And if we are not clear on our role, we end up spending time on tasks that have a low value and tasks that have maybe been foisted upon us but are actually somebody else’s responsibility.

Make sure you are clear about your responsibilities and focus on the high-value tasks that create the biggest results.

Just say ‘no’ / Image by Jon Tyson

7. Learn to say ’no’

A crucial time management technique that I have learned is the power of ‘no’. You can’t take on everything and if you really want to be in full control of your time, you have to start rejecting requests and demands whenever you can. Otherwise, you will end up overcommitting your time all the time.

Check out this post: How To Say ‘No’

Time Hack Hero Takeaway

While there are many causes of stress, a major contributing factor these days is work and the workplace. And being disorganized with your time at work is a recipe for chronic stress.

Improving your time management by using some of the techniques described above will help you take control of your time and reduce your stress levels.

Remember that although stress induces a physiological response over which you have no control, you do have some control over how you react to situations around you and you certainly have control over how you manage your time.

[Featured image credit: Unsplash]


1. Information Source: Science Daily

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