Posts Tagged ‘time management’

Handling Holiday Stress

November 20, 2017

From pumpkin spice to peppermint mocha, there’s a tangible feel as the seasons change. Yet, for every bit of holiday magic, extra stress and confusion can easily spoil the show. Parties, traditions, food, and scheduling conflicts can add up to a holiday handful. Whether you find yourself dreading or anticipating that annual event, consider these tips to keep your relationships happy and healthy.

  • Pay attention – Expectations, memories, and drama can easily complicate the season’s joy. Be mindful of your feelings and needs, particularly if you’re in a different situation than last year. Grieving the loss of a loved one, relationship, or job can leave you feeling sad. That’s okay. Even though it’s the holidays, you don’t have to be happy.
  • Be realistic – Communicate your expectations of others and yourself. Remember, you are only one person. You can only be in one place at a time, bake so many cookies, and spend so much money. Consider scaling things back to enjoy the most from each detail.
  • Prevent stress – Everyone has that one family member, coworker, or acquaintance that gets on their nerves. Postpone deep or controversial conversations. Stay cordial, stick to the small-talk and form an exit strategy to excuse yourself from a potential disagreement.
  • Say no – Practice the discipline of saying no to preserve feeling overwhelmed and resentful. Cherish your holiday, say no to the good and yes to the best.
  • Travel solo – Double-booked with multiple engagements? Consider splitting the events with your partner. Driving separately so one of you can leave early is another alternative. Stand up for your individual needs to strike the perfect holiday balance.
  • Plan – Reduce last-minute surprises by organizing a plan for who, what, when, and where. Communicate your plans by writing them down or sharing via your favorite mobile device app.
  • Minimize – Consider limiting your sugar, food, and alcohol intake. Avoid holiday hangovers by cutting back.

No matter what holiday situation arises, practice the art of being polite. Keep scrooge locked away and remember your manners. Say thank you, send a note, or consider a donation to your favorite charity.


Stress Management Strategies

May 13, 2014

Stress is something everyone faces, and it is no secret that it can be overwhelming. Moreover, if stress is prolonged or particularly frustrating, it can be harmful. It is important to recognize early signs of stress and do something about them. Doing so can dramatically improve the quality of your life.

Every day there are many tasks that need to be completed. Trying to take care of all of them at once is overwhelming. In the end, you may not accomplish anything. Make a list of the tasks you have to do; then work on them one at a time, checking them off as they are finished. Give priority to the most important ones and take care of those first.

Avoid self-prescribed medication to deal with stress. Although some people use prescriptions or over-the-counter medications to temporarily relieve stress, they don’t remove the conditions that first caused the anxiety. This means the problem continues. In fact, medications may be habit-forming. This often creates more stress, rather than decreasing it.

The best strategy for keeping stress out of your life is learning how to relax. Take time to tune out worries about time and money. Focus on relaxing and enjoying life.

Managing Stress

Discovering how to manage stress can enable you to better handle life’s demands. Bring more success and satisfaction to your day by using the following strategies from the University of Michigan’s Faculty and Staff Assistance Program.

  1. Set small goals
  2. Do your best on everything
  3. Learn to laugh under pressure
  4. Take time to be organized
  5. Avoid leaving loose ends
  6. Prioritize responsibilities
  7. Handle multiple tasks efficiently
  8. Enjoy your commute
  9. Plan ahead
  10. Identify your problems
  11. Examine your motives
  12. Be ready for challenges
  13. Avoid procrastination
  14. Find your productive time
  15. Let music soothe your worries
  16. Make time for fun
  17. Escape stress with relaxation
  18. Discover a new perspective
  19. Defeat anxieties by facing them
  20. Take inventory of your stressors
  21. Consider every option
  22. Attain a healthy outlook
  23. Increase your job enthusiasm
  24. Look at the positive side
  25. Keep your chin up

Finding Your Balance: At Work and Home

March 27, 2014

For a lot of people, the pursuit of a healthy work/life balance seems like an impossible goal. In our rush to “get it all done” at the office and at home, it’s easy to forget that, as our stress levels spike, our productivity plummets.

While we all need a certain amount of stress to spur us on and help us perform at our best, the key to managing stress lies in that one magic word: balance. Achieving a healthy work/life balance is an attainable goal.

Here are a few practical steps we can all take to loosen the grip that stress has on us and win back the balance in our lives.

At Home

Turn off your PDA. The same technology that makes it so easy for workers to do their jobs flexibly can also burn us out if we use it 24/7. By all means, make yourself available – especially if you’ve earned the right to “flex” your hours – but recognize the need for personal time, too.

Divide and conquer. Make sure responsibilities at home are evenly distributed and clearly outlined – you’ll avoid confusion and problems later.

Don’t overcommit. Do you feel stressed when you just glance at your calendar? If you’re overscheduled with activities learn to say “no.” Shed the superwoman/superman urge!

Get support. Chatting with friends and family can be important to your success at home – or at work – and can even improve your health. People with stronger support systems have more aggressive immune responses to illnesses than those who lack such support.

Treat your body right. Being in good shape physically increases your tolerance to stress and reduces sick days. Eat right, exercise and get adequate rest. Don’t rely on drugs, alcohol or cigarettes to cope with stress; they’ll only lead to more problems.

At Work

Set manageable goals each day. Being able to meet priorities helps us feel a sense of accomplishment and control. The latest research shows that the more control we have over our work, the less stressed we get. So be realistic about workloads and deadlines. Make a “to do” list, and take care of important tasks first and eliminate unessential ones. Ask for help when necessary.

Be efficient with your time at work. When we procrastinate, the task often grows in our minds until it seems insurmountable. So when you face a big project at work or home, start by dividing it into smaller tasks. Complete the first one before moving on to the next. Give yourself small rewards upon each completion, whether it’s a five-minute break or a walk to the coffee shop. If you feel overwhelmed by routines that seem unnecessary, tell your boss. The less time you spend doing busywork or procrastinating, the more time you can spend productively, or with friends or family.

Communicate effectively. Be honest with colleagues or your boss when you feel you’re in a bind. Chances are, you’re not alone. But don’t just complain – suggest practical alternatives. Looking at a situation from someone else’s viewpoint can also reduce your stress. In a tense situation, either rethink your strategy or stand your ground, calmly and rationally. Make allowances for other opinions, and compromise. Retreat before you lose control, and allow time for all involved to cool off. You’ll be better equipped to handle the problem constructively later.

The Key to Balancing Family and Work? Prioritize.

May 31, 2013

Keeping a healthy balance between your work and your family can seem almost impossible to a parent or spouse with full-time employment. However, making conscious choices to prioritize the most important events in both spheres can help you live a balanced, happy life. If you let your work define your entire life, there is a good chance you will miss out on precious family bonding time that you can never get back.

Put Your Family First. Amidst the importance of both your career and your family, a balanced life is not easy, but making the decision to value your family will point you in the right direction. A practical way to get focused on your family is to collaborate to create family goals. Find out what your kids want to do as a family (i.e. to visit a local attraction or play a family game) and do it! Put it on your calendar, and be sure not to miss it.

Dealing with the Difficulties. Though we can endlessly discuss the decisions you should be making, even if you make all the right choices, there will still inevitably be times when work takes over. Sometimes responsibilities will mount that cannot wait and you will miss out on a family event. Accept this possibility now so that when the time comes, you aren’t overwhelmed or disappointed in yourself.

In the meantime, you can take positive action to ensure that your time at work is spent efficiently so that you can get home to your family as quickly as possible. Don’t let endless distractions and procrastination rule your life.

Practical Tips for Parents. The most important decision for parents to make is to be present where they are. Don’t come home to your kids with you mind still at the office. Separate your roles, leaving work at work so that you can more fully enjoy the time you have at home with your family. In doing so, you’ll quickly notice more of the little things that make life special, both at work and at home.

Plan Regular Family Dinners. The concept of family dinners may seem too simple, but plenty of studies have demonstrated that kids whose families regularly eat meals together are less likely to do drugs, smoke, drink, get depressed, develop eating disorders and consider suicide and more likely to eat fruits and vegetables, do well in school and communicate with their parents. That being said, make your family dinners a priority. Use the time together to catch up with each other, figure out what it is that your kids want to do as a family, discuss upcoming family events and delegate responsibilities for those events.

Have Fun with Your Kids. Don’t just split your attention all the time – make intentional plans with each child to make sure that they are all nurtured and loved in the unique ways they need. Also, many people today work so hard that they never take a break – don’t be afraid to take a family vacation! Those memories will be invaluable.

Don’t Forget Your Spouse. The trap of focusing all your energy on work and the kids is far too dangerous. Be intentional about one on one time with your spouse as well. Your relationship still requires work, even after years of marriage. Plan romantic dates, or just meet up for coffee in the middle of a workday. Find ways to keep on dialoguing, no matter where each day finds you.

The Benefits of Balance. Although balance may appear to be a daunting goal, difficult to achieve, any steps you take towards it will seem like a heavy load lifted off your back. Small choices can make a huge difference in your family life. Assess your responsibilities carefully and decide which ones make the cut of your priorities and which ones are not worth your time and energy.

Using Acceptance to Become Self-Motivated

February 8, 2013

Even in our busy world of scheduling, calendars, and planning, we may have the best intentions, but sometimes, things just don’t turn out the way we expected them to. If everything works out the way you planned, that’s great. If things don’t work out the way you planned, that can actually be a positive thing too, because change can open up new possibilities that you had not even imagined.

Give your best thought, effort and attention to the factors that you can control, but also give your full acceptance to the factors you cannot control.

What’s the best response when some unforseen event beyond your control prevents things from working out as planned? Acceptance. If you accept the situation, you will find the very best of the new possibilities that have been created and can move forward with those options, rather than dwell upon what could have been.

Acceptance does not mean that you agree with it or that you can resign yourself to live with the outcome of events that have occurred. Acceptance means that you see it for what it is and make positive use of it.

Instead of constantly worrying that something will come along to disrupt your plans, remind yourself that you can adapt to whatever may happen. Instead of being paralyzed by the fear of what you cannot control, be confident in knowing that even the most difficult situations harbor positive possibilities.

Learn not to fight against what has already happened or to be impeded by what “might” happen. Instead, choose to accept what is and use it as a springboard for magnificent success.

-Adapted from Ralph Marston from

Setting Goals

January 17, 2013

Now’s the time to set new goals and start achieving them. If you’ve had goals in mind, but aren’t sure how to proceed, the following tips can help you and your children successfully set and achieve them:

Be specific. When thinking about your gaol, be as exact as possible. People wo set specific goals are more likely to succeed. For example, instead of saying that you want to save money, set a specific goal to save $20 (or whatever your goal amount is) per week.

Put it in writing. Write down exactly what you want to achieve and post it in a place where you will see it every day. This will help remind you what you’re working toward. When you write, use positive terms. For example, instead of writing, “I will stop eating junk food,’ reword your goal in more positive terms: “I will make healthy food choices.”

Set realistic goals. When you think about setting goals, make sure that they are within your reach. Be mindful of your finances, schedule, and other personal affairs. Many people forget to think about these important factors and, as a result, they set unrealistic goals for themselves.

Develop an action plan. Create a time line with steps toward your goals. Set deadlines for each step and cross them off as you go. Sometimes just crossing things off and watching your list get smaller can give you a sense of accomplishment and help you to keep going.

Believe in yourself. Stay positive about your progress. Share your goal with a friend and ask him/her to help keep your spirits up.

Be flexible. Keep in mind that setbacks can happen. Don’t get discouraged and give up. Your hard work will pay off!!

Reward yourself. Acknowledge your achievements, even the small ones. Reaching a goal takes hard work, and you should be proud of your efforts.

How To Stop Procrastinating

December 20, 2012

Procrastination comes in many forms, whether you are a college student putting off a dreaded paper, or a homeowner putting off doing chores like cleaning the gutters. We all procrastinate, thinking that tomorrow will be a better time to tackle undesirable duties and chores, but it can have negative consequences.

Procrastination is a curse, and a costly one. Putting things off leads not only to lost productivity but also to all sorts of hand wringing and regrets and damaged self-esteem. For all these reasons, psychologists would love to figure out what’s going on in the mind that makes it so hard to actually do what we set out to do. Are we programmed for postponement and delay?

As reported by the Association for Psychological Science in January 2009, an international team of psychologists led by Sean McCrea of the University of Konstanz in Germany wanted to see if there might be a link between how we think of a task and our tendency to postpone it. In other words, are we more likely to see some tasks as psychologically “distant” – and thus making us save them for later rather than tackling them now?

The psychologists handed out questionnaires to a group of students and asked them to respond by e-mail within three weeks. All the questions had to do with rather mundane tasks like opening a bank account and keeping a diary, but different students were given different instructions for answering the questions. Some thought and wrote about what each activity implied about personal traits: what kind of person has a bank account, for example. Others wrote simply about the nuts and bolts of doing each activity: speaking to a bank officer, filling out forms, making an initial deposit, and so forth. The idea was to get some students thinking abstractly and others concretely. Then the psychologists waited. And in some cases, waited and waited. They recorded all the response times to see if there was a difference between the two group, and indeed there was a significant difference.

The findings, reported in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, were very clear. Even though all of the students were being paid upon completion, those who thought about the questions abstractly were much more likely to procrastinate – and in fact some never got around to the assignment at all. By contrast, those who were focused on the how, when and where of doing the task e-mailed their responses much sooner, suggesting that they hopped right on the assignment rather than delaying it.

The authors note “merely thinking about the task in more concrete, specific terms makes it feel like it should be completed sooner and thus reducing procrastination.” They conclude that these results have important implications for teachers and managers who may want their students and employees starting on projects sooner. In addition, these findings are also relevant for those of us resolving to have better time management skills.

Manage Your Time and Stop Procrastinating

Do you typically put off work, chores or other duties until the last minute? One way to stop procrastinating is to learn better time management skills. Here are a few quick ways to better manage your time.

Get organized. To use time more wisely, organize your life and keep it that way. Go through paperwork, etc. and filter out the un-needed items. Eliminate clutter in your work area.

Make “To Do” lists. Good time managers make “To Do” lists a regular part of their lives, whether it’s on the computer, a PDA or a simple piece of paper.

Finish one task before moving on. Save yourself time by finishing one project before moving on to another.

Reward yourself for finishing tough projects. The hardest tasks are those that we have to do but which are difficult or boring. Get over the drudgery of these tasks by promising yourself a reward after finishing a tough project.

Eliminate non-productive activities. Watching television or aimlessly surfing the Internet isn’t a productive use of time. Good time managers create time by ridding their lives of these and other big time wasters.

Plan ahead. So that you’re not cramped for time, plan ahead. If you are working on a large project with a pressing time line, do a bit each day, make it manageable, so that you can avoid a huge amount of work in the end.