«I wish there were more than 24 hours in one day»
I remember myself saying these words over and over again. I didn’t realise at the time that what I needed was not more than 24 hours in one day. I needed a thinner To-do list. And to learn how to set priorities.
As it happens a day has twenty four hours and as far as I am concerned, eight are meant to sleep. To let our body and mind rest. And to regenerate and detoxify. So simple as it may seem, when we divide each day in our diary in time-slots we become fully aware of how much or how little we can actually do!. It helps to accept this for good mental health too. Other people’s demands will not always be possibly attended to unfortunately, whether they come from our kids, colleagues or partners. And we need to accept that too!
TIME PLANNING and TIME STRESSORS
A good Time planning scheme that suits me as the unique human being that I am is the idea for today’s blog entry. We are all diverse. We all have different priorities, circumstances and goals. My «Day plan» doesn’t need to be exactly like yours and will undoubtably be designed in accordance with my wishes, preferences and priorities. In doing so our emotions will need to be dealt with as well as we will need to accept that our priorities are what they are, which might bring conflict in work-life balance outlines that we will need to handle. So we need to be prepared to find out what type of person we are when setting those priorities. Whether we are more of a family person or on the contrary you find we cannot leave work undone. Perhaps we realise we can actually do both better that we expected. Or maybe sport and exercise is far more important than we think and need to leave some work / family issues aside for the time being. Whatever will be is fine. There are no rules but to find a better place for me in my life.
The gallery below may be helpful when setting our priorities: (one) to list those tasks that are important AND urgent, (two) then to define which are important but not urgent, (three) to choose those which are urgent but not important, and finally (four) to understand what is neither important nor urgent.
It is sometimes not easy to say «No» though, although being assertive has a lot to do with the Quality of our Life and with thinning our to-do lists. When we learn to delegate, grow less demanding or perfectionist, and focus on the journey rather than the destination a few unnecessary stressors will certainly disappear. Quality of Life often lies on attitude rather than results. Cultivating relationships, appreciating moments and building up teams is part of our quality of life.
Here are some ideas to be assertive and use a Positive No. In any case, being as truthful as we can will bring genuineness to the persons and the situation involved:
- Honest explanations like «Sorry I don’t feel comfortable doing that»
- Reasoning like «Sorry I can’t do that now because I have another project due in … minutes»
- Alternatives like «Sorry I don’t have time today but I could schedule it in for tomorrow morning»
- Show empathy like saying «I understand that you need to have this paperwork filed immediately but I won’t be able to file it for you until tomorrow» or «I would love to help you by filing this paperwork but I do not have the time right now»
MULTITASKING and PRODUCTIVITY
When multi-tasking our brain is in reality madly switching from one thing to the next, often losing data in the process. For instance, making connectivity our ally not our enemy will reduce stress considerably if we make the question before picking up that call for example: is this a good time to answer?. There are times when replying to that email, call or whatsapp text will in the long term be less productive than finishing what we are doing first. Let’s do one thing first then the other. We will surely find a quieter moment to call back becoming fully aware of the task and devoting our full attention to that person.
Our attention will obviously follow those tasks we like the most first of all and will want to ignore the ones we don’t enjoy doing. Sometimes we will get interrupted by people trying to redirect our attention to other issues. And of course, we will need to leave room for unexpected or unforeseen events. We will therefore be better off setting some extra time for these interferences and will need to be mentally flexible to accept them.
Take care of yourself. Settle down in your life by making things easier for you. You may need to learn how to handle other people’s lack of sympathy or indifference at times… Just listen to yourself and help yourself figure out what you can manage healthily. Learn when it is not healthy to load on and load off until you are prepared for it. Try and identify which are your time thieves and always remember that doing a lot doesn’t always equal being productive. The former without the latter is a time thief. Finally, it would be a good idea to ask ourselves whether «this is the best moment to do what I am about to do».
activity – efficacy = stress
LESS IS MORE
I couldn’t appreciate these words more when I was going through the hardest times and stress took over my life. The motto was pointed out to me during some glorious stress-management workshops run by La Mar to whom I am forever grateful. It has to do with the 80/20 rule, also known as Pareto Principle, which states that 80% of our results come from only 20% of our actions. It really comes down to analyzing what we are spending our time on and whether we are focusing on what really matters in our life.