USA Wellness Café
Stress Management Take-Out Course:
Time Management Techniques

Written by Staff Writers of USA Wellness Café ™

Stress related to lack of time will create personal pressure for almost every U.S. worker. That torn feeling of rushing back and forth to manage various tasks leaves most of us exhausted in today’s busy world.

When we lack focus, it takes a lot of energy to power through any given work day. The good news is this: there are specific ways to manipulate time. However, we have to wake up and pay attention.

Time is a powerful tool in life. It’s critical to saving lives in a hospital setting; it’s also critical to getting into the right school or landing a job interview. A lost moment can mean we miss meeting a deadline or receiving a much-needed phone call.

Time holds a huge amount of power over any person, whether they wish to recognize it or not. By understanding the principles of managing time, we take back personal power.

Look at Lost Time

First, we have to get time in perspective. Consider a young girl who dates the wrong guy for 10 years. Or, consider a young man who decides to drop out of college for a couple of years. Each of these young people may not comprehend what a big time loss over one’s life span these issues can present.

Those of us who are older will instantly feel the impact these young people will face one day. Time will hand them a report card of how well they managed their time allotted on this planet. It can be a painful accounting for anyone who takes time for granted.

Time is irreplaceable. You can’t borrow it, save it up or buy more of it. You can only spend it. When you’re really young, you may not comprehend this. You believe times is endless and there’s no need to worry. Later, when you do comprehend time more fully, it’s too late to conduct a life makeover.

In reality, there is no way to “manage” time itself. Instead, we each have to manage our personal energy, which includes mental and physical energies, so that we “maximize” the time we have available.

The clock, which you might deem as your enemy, is really your best friend. By paying attention to time slots, you can learn to work more efficiently -- and get everything done that is truly important. This adds up to more overall life satisfaction in your later years.

The clock ensures that we will notice what strategies actually work for getting things done. The ticking of time requires each of us to acknowledge what doesn’t work so well. It forces us to monitor what’s going on.

Develop Habits That Make Life Flow

How you proactively choose to get things done can free up time slots. This will lessen your daily stress.

You will need to establish habits that work well repeatedly. If a habit is worth keeping, it will work well day after day.

Your goal in time management is to accomplish tasks related to work and family, plus have some time left over to take care of your personal needs.

A productive habit to save time would fit this type of scenario: When you wake up and grab your coffee, try getting in the habit of returning to the bedroom to make up your bed. Don’t leave your bed unmade, even if you won’t be home until much later.

Why would this habit affect anything else? Can making a bed save time in reality?

Consider this: A smooth bed is a great place to lay out your clothes to get dressed, lay out your clothes for the next day, fold laundry after work, and sort paperwork from your briefcase. It’s one of the best “work stations” imaginable.

Keep these points in mind to gain control of your time:

  1. Invest time in task planning. Review responsibilities to brainstorm ideas for developing a better work flow from week to week.
    For example, pay your bills on Sunday nights only. Write out a chore list for your family every Saturday morning for the entire week.
  2. Invest time today to save time later on. For example, every time you make spaghetti sauce, cook three times what you need for dinner and freeze two extra batches. When you make soup or bake chicken, do the extra batches as well.
  3. Hire help, delegate tasks or barter for help. You might, for instance, pay a teenager in the neighborhood to mow your yard. Delegate 10-minute tasks to co-workers or employees whenever possible. Swap skills or time to get help as well. For example, pick up someone’s in-laws at the airport if they agree to edit a brochure for you.

* Go over all of the ways you can save steps. Think of how many steps you’ll save by putting three extra plastic garbage bags in the bottom of the trash can. Whenever you take out a full bag, your spare bag will be at your fingertips.

Use Small Bits of Time Wisely

Taking five minutes of time to focus beats dawdling over a project for an hour. For example, if you need to plan a fundraiser or enroll in a college course, use five minutes of time to:

  1. Make a list of five key things you need to do.
  2. Call at least one person who can help you.
  3. Go online to print off information you need.

Do the hardest parts of a project first. This way, you can get the ball rolling. Look at any large goal, whether it’s redecorating the family room or planning a wedding, to figure out which areas will take the most effort. Get the tough stuff out of the way early on.

Managing the time associated with completing a major project usually requires getting other people moving forward. Try these tips to see immediate progress--therefore ensuring you don’t have to backtrack later:

  1. Make a “master list” of the most difficult parts of a project.
  2. Make a list of the key people you will need to assist.
  3. Create lists of small, detailed tasks that break a big project down into manageable bits and pieces.
  4. Starting doling out work to your helpers ASAP.

Practice Awareness to Save Time

Look at your life, goals and daily tasks to go over what’s working. Ask yourself: What have I done appropriately? What needs fine-tuning, so I can save time and get my life on track?

Honesty will be your friend in this situation. Stand back and take a hard look at your time management lifestyle. What you fail to acknowledge will defeat you or set you back.

Review your schedule, daily routine, good habits, bad habits, organizational skills and overall happiness rating (okay, good, great or superb). Then ask: Would I hire myself to manage my life? Would I do a good job, or would I fire myself for not doing things properly?

To make important changes, spend the next two weeks making decisions to improve your time management strategies. Make it a habit to review what’s going on at least twice a month, so you can alter your plans if something’s not working. When you can truthfully state, “I’m managing my time well,” you have the best chance of reaching your goals and creating the life you desire.