BY ANDREW MCDONALD
Stress destroys both our mental wellbeing and physical health. It can ultimately lead to chronic or even terminal illness. Stressful situations often develop when we feel we don’t have enough time but we can take back control of this with a few easy steps.
First, are you doing too much and do you know how to say “no”? Frequently we feel ourselves up against the clock because we are too obliging and end up with more to do than we can manage. When someone asks you to do something, do you automatically say “yes”? If you can’t say “no”, people inadvertently pile more on you because they assume you can handle it. It isn’t rude or selfish to say “no”. You know how much you can manage and if you start politely refusing what you think you can’t reasonably achieve, you’re likely to do much better at what you feel you can.
Use to-do lists and prioritise. This saves on time spent trying to remember what you need to do. It also means that important tasks get done first. I’ve got a busy day today, I need to write this article, another for another publication, do jobs around the house, do a day’s work etc. I also want to watch a couple of sports matches. I’ve put these last two at the end of my list for today because, ultimately, if I end up not seeing them, it isn’t the end of the world whereas it’s much more important that I complete the other tasks. It also means that when I do sit down to watch them, I can give them my full attention.
Try to avoid multitasking. Many people think trying to do more than one thing at once is a great way to get things done more quickly. Actually, it doesn’t work like that. You end up doing half jobs which need redoing to get them up to scratch. Allocate a reasonable length of time to do each task and stick to it.
Avoid distractions. You know the pattern. You sit down to do something, then you get an email from work or a text from a friend and this pulls you away from what you first intended to get done. Sometimes urgent things do happen which need your attention immediately but most of the time we can continue to concentrate on the task at hand and then give what popped up our full attention later.
Don’t procrastinate! We frequently put things we don’t want to do or which seem difficult on the back burner. Avoid doing that like the plague! It only makes what we don’t want to do seem even more daunting and leaves us racing against the clock to get it done rather than being relaxed whilst completing whatever task it is.
We can’t remove all stress from our lives. A little time management goes a long way to reducing it though. Your mind and body will thank you for it.