We live in a society where the definition of time is becoming more subjective; meaning that time is more about an individual’s perception and less about an apparent collective value. Now, before anyone gets upset with me about the “true” definition of time, let me explain…
Have you ever tried to count the number of decisions that you make in a given day? If you’re like me, . . . Your alarm goes off, you prepare for work, you commute, you work, and then, you go home and start the process all over again. As you complete this process, you realize that each step requires decisions, such as what to wear, what to eat for breakfast, what task to do first at work, and what to do after work? The point is that each of us will complete different steps, and each day the steps will be different from the next!
So…what does this have to do with stress, you ask? Everything! Every decision that you make is based on your available choices. Sometimes you have more choices than others, but nonetheless, there are choices to be made in everything you do.
Dictionary.com defines stress as “the physical pressure, pull, or other force exerted on one thing by another.” In a society driven by (and through) information and time, those ‘other’ forces have the potential to wreak havoc on your daily activities.
Within a given day, most individuals will make thousands of decisions. Since time is associated with decisions, you begin to see the problem here… too many decisions, not enough time . . . welcome to one of the primary stressors in your life!
It’s true that every decision takes time, and there isn’t enough time to make all the decisions that are needed…so, what are you supposed to do? With this realization comes an understanding of stress. As you try to make all the necessary decisions and realize that there isn’t enough time to do so, you begin to feel stressed. You begin to second-guess your decisions or arbitrarily make decisions without any rhyme or reason. Either way, you’re not happy with your decisions, which only adds to your stress!
Knowing that you’re incapable of stopping time, decisions continue to demand your attention each and every waking hour. Before you give up and claim that time has won, consider five ways that you can gain control over time to reduce the stress in your life.
- Avoid overbooking – How busy are you? Do you try to fit too many things into your daily schedule knowing that you’ll never get them all done? Perhaps it makes you feel better knowing that you have everything scheduled? Trim it down! Realistically determine what you must do and then prioritize your activities to become a better time manager.
- Just say “no” – Are you incapable of turning down your boss regardless of how busy you are? Although saying no may seem difficult, your boss will think less of you if you accept every assignment and complete none, rather than selectively accepting assignments and completing them in an orderly and efficient manner.
- Take a vacation – Too busy to vacation? You can’t afford not to. Take time away from the office to recharge your batteries. Clear your mind of the responsibilities that you hold on to dearly and return to work refreshed and ready to tackle the next project. Prevent burnout before it starts.
- Unplug from technology – You live in an information age where you are connected 24/7. Unplug outside of the office and during vacation–leave the laptop closed, turn off your cellphone, kick off your shoes and enjoy the sunset AND sunrise. Enjoy the world as it was meant to be, without distractions from the workplace.
- Ask for help – Can’t do any of the above and you are still stressed? Then, ask for help! Just because you’re busy, doesn’t automatically mean that your colleagues are busy, too. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign that you value the contributions of others. Teaming invites fellowship and networking with peers and subordinates alike. You’re all part of the same company, why not help each other in your quest to achieve common goals?
Still stressed? Perhaps, but now you may have a better idea of what may be causing it. Trying out these ideas couldn’t hurt and could just give you that measure of control over your time which you may not have felt you previously had.