Stress management is a complex subject. Hundreds of books have been written about it. Courses, seminars and workshops are held around the world about managing stress better. An entire branch of medical specialists have evolved around the concept of eliminating stress or mitigating its ill effects.
Yet, essentially, stress management is actually simple.
Once upon a long time ago, I would worry about a lot about things.
- Like unanswered emails (there are now over 6,000 in my inbox I’ve not even read).
- Like partnership offers from people I know (there’s now a system I follow to deal with these).
- Like a notebook full of profitable ideas, but each needing a week or two to execute (I’m now on notebook #4).
I no longer obsess, worry or stress about these things. The small things I ignore. The bigger things often look smaller after a while, so I’ve started letting go of them too.
And even if they continue to remain important, I’ve learned to stop worrying if I really don’t have the time to tackle them. After all, worrying about it won’t bring me an extra hour a day to get the task done. Instead, it only stresses me out so I’m not able to focus attention on the things that need to be done.
Cutting out the worry and adopting this simple stress management attitude alone has saved time and helped achieve more in the limited time available. There’s a lot more that can be said and taught about stress management. But unless this basic tenet becomes a part of your philosophy of life, you’re going to suffer from stress.
A lovely book that places stuff in the right perspective is “Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff” (with a wonderful sub-title, “And It’s All Small Stuff”).
How many times have you rushed off, dropping everything else, to carry out a task or project that seemed urgent – only to discover later on that it really wasn’t so critical, really? Yes, there are emergencies. But unless you’re on call in the ER of a busy hospital, chances are these emergencies aren’t really as urgent as they first seem.
Keeping the right perspective, learning to prioritize correctly, and staying focused on getting the important things done first will all combine in stress management, helping you avoid ‘sweating the small stuff’.
Another effective technique for stress management is to be better organized and to work on a plan. There is nothing as sensible as having a practical plan. A plan as we know it is something that is well thought-out and charted in advance before starting work on it.
But even when you know the benefits of working on a plan, many of us only rarely resort to planning before we start a course of action. No, I’m not referring to a mental picture that we chart out in our minds that is vague and unclear. A real plan in black and white, that is put down on a piece of paper, is quite unusual.
Do not underestimate the power of a written down plan. Once we write down something it clears up a lot of hazy areas and opens aspects that we might overlook. And, most important of all, you’ll get a rough estimate of how much time it will take to complete. All these things help manage stress effectively.
Plans should always be time bound and there we get the relation between time management and planning. In fact planning is as fundamental to time and stress management as organizing and prioritizing. It’s at the heart of the Time Management Tao approach which is based upon learning how to
- Find your center – know WHAT to do
- Understand your order – know HOW to do it
- Pick your timing – know WHO to use & WHEN
There are many other techniques to manage time that will help in lowering stress. You’ll learn them by exploring other sections of this site, and from the Ming Vase Time Management series of guides. You can also sign up to the free “Time Taozine” to receive time management tips by email.