When I am speaking to a group of women and ask them “How many of you are stressed and overwhelmed,” hands immediately go up, frantically waving like someone who is drowning and needs help. If you are like so many of them, you experience stress on a regular basis, wishing you had more time every day to do the things you must/should/wish you could do.
In my last blog post, I began a series addressing the Top 10 Everyday Stressors of Women based on a devotional written by Becky Johnson and Rachel Randolph.
I can categorize their ten stressors in to four major categories.
- Time management & setting priorities
- Managing relationships
Last week, I wrote about self-sabotage, primarily fear and perfectionism. Today, I will focus on time management and setting priorities, which, if left undone, can lead to exhaustion, chaos and feelings of failure.
The good news is that we are in control of our own calendars! Though we tend to let our calendars control us.
Here are seven tips for achieving better time management while reducing your stress
1. Set your intention. If you begin each day by declaring your intention for the day, it will set the mood for whatever you want to create. You might want to be productive, to achieve a certain goal, to have a sense of peace throughout the day, or to handle a situation at work with grace. Your intention might be tied to your physical health, emotional wellbeing or relationships, but it should always support your purpose.
2. Live with purpose. The core of your daily routine must revolve around your life’s purpose. What are you called to do? What gifts and skills are you using to live out that calling? You were created for a specific role in the universe, and fully equipped for your life’s journey which was planned long before you were even born. If you are focused on living out your purpose, no matter what your season of life, then everything falls in to place much easier. Knowing your God-designed calling provides the foundation for the next steps.
3. Don’t multi-task. It is true that multi-tasking means you get several things done at one time, but none done will be done very well. As women, we think we have to do it all, and it must be done right now! But multi-tasking leads to being disorganized, forgetful and totally frazzled. The next tips will help you put down some of those balls you are juggling.
4. Prioritize. Most of us have to-do lists that are a mile long, and we feel overwhelmed just looking at them. At the beginning of the week, make a list of everything you want to accomplish, and rank them 1, 2 or 3, with 1 being highest priority and 3 being lowest. Tackle the most important items first, and leave the lowest until later. Delegate when you can, and tell people you will get back to them in 48 hours.
5. Use time-blocking. It’s amazing how much you can get done when you are highly focused and not distracted. Look at your to-do list, choose the top priorities, and block out sufficient time early in the day when you have greater clarity, energy and creativity. Unplug from email, social media and your phone, and set a timer if you have to. Then reward yourself for accomplishing your goal in record time!
6. Don’t overbook your calendar. A full calendar is not a badge of honor. It only leads to stress, guilt, resentment and a whole host of other negative emotions. See how much white space you can leave in your calendar each day to simply Plan for traffic delays, expect some tasks to take longer than you anticipated, and allow yourself some time to unwind. “Life happens,” and there will often be something that disrupts your schedule. If you are already stressed, you are more likely to have a meltdown.
7. Just say no. One of the biggest factors of stress and overwhelm is our inability to say no. Women simply cannot get that simple word out of their mouths when asked to take on a new responsibility, to do someone else’s work, or to put the demands of others before their own needs. Too often, we accept an opportunity out of obligation or guilt, and afterwards are filled with resentment and frustration.
Think of it this way…when you say “no” to something, that allows someone else to say “yes!” And that person may really want to do that task, unlike you who feels obligated. The more you say “yes,” the more people will let you say yes, assuming that you want do it all, taking advantage of your good intentions and your valuable time. Plus, when you learn to say “no,” that opens up the space in your life to do the things that align with your purpose and goals
The bottom line is that we all have the same 24 hours in every day. It’s what you do with those hours that makes the difference in your overall mental and physical health. What doesn’t get done today will still be waiting for you tomorrow, and the world will still be turning.
What time management strategies are working for you? I’d love to hear about them!
The next blog post in this series is all about self-care. Read the 3 Life Changes Guaranteed to Reduce Stress Every Day.
If you are overworked, over-stressed and unfulfilled, I’d love to be your guide and accountability partner to get you back on track! I offer a holistic approach to coaching, helping you successfully integrate your faith, family and career to create a flourishing life. Click here to request a complimentary 30-minute Clarity Session if you’d like to explore your opportunities!