Time Management to Prevent Stress

Learn how to manage your time, be more productive, and avoid feeling stressed.

It’s no secret that stress can take a toll on our mental and physical health. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, stress is the leading cause of illness in the United States. While we can’t always avoid stressful situations, there are things we can do to help manage and reduce stress. One of those things is learning how to manage our time better.

Time management is a skill that everyone can benefit from. After all, we all have the same 24 hours in a day. It’s how we choose to use that time that makes the difference. When we manage our time effectively, we can get more done, free up some extra time for ourselves, and reduce stress.

What Is Time Management?

Time management is the process of organizing and planning how to use your time efficiently. It involves setting goals, creating a schedule, and sticking to it.

Why Is Time Management Important?

Office supplies on a desk with a clock and a sign that reads "How Good is Your Time Management"Time management is important because it allows you to make the most of your time. When you manage your time effectively, you can get more done in less time. This can lead to greater productivity and success in both your personal and professional life. Additionally, effective time management can help reduce stress by ensuring that you are using your time wisely.

How Is Time Management Related to Stress Management?

Time management is closely related to stress management. If you feel like you are always short on time, it can lead to stress. Conversely, if you are able to manage your time effectively, it can help reduce stress. This is because when you feel like you have a handle on your time, it can make other aspects of your life feel more manageable as well.

Symptoms of Stress Caused by Poor Time Management

Stress can manifest itself in many different ways and can be different for everyone. Some common symptoms of stress caused by poor time management are:

  • Keep a task list and refer to it often
  • Feeling rushed or constantly behind
  • Procrastination
  • Poor prioritization
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Irritability

Stress can wreak havoc on just about every system in your body and negatively impact your health. High stress levels can lead to:

  • Heart disease
  • Asthma
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Headaches
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Accelerated aging
  • Premature death

Biggest Time Wasters

  • Laptop open on a table with a social media page open and person holding their phone using a social media app.Social media
  • Checking email too frequently
  • Surfing the internet
  • Procrastination
  • Watching television
  • Video Games
  • Alcohol 

Time wasters can be bad for a few reasons. First, they can take up a lot of time and prevent you from accomplishing important tasks. Second, they can be a source of stress since you feel like you’re not doing anything productive. And finally, they can be addictive and keep you from enjoying your free time.

There are a few things you can do to reduce the number of time wasters in your life. Be mindful of how much time you’re spending on social media, checking email, surfing the internet, playing games, etc. Make a note of where you struggle the most. You may find it helpful to install a screen time tracker app on your phone. These apps will track how much time you spend on each app and give you a breakdown. Often people are shocked to see how much time they spend playing games or scrolling on social media.

Once you know which time wasters you need to work on, set a plan to reduce them. You could do this in several different ways. If your time waster is on your phone, you could install an app that will limit your screen time for a specific app or apps. For example, you might give yourself 30 minutes a day to scroll on social media. Once you’ve reached this limit, the screen time app will prevent you from opening the social media app until the following day.

You could also set a timer, and once the timer goes off, you have to stop whatever you’re doing and move on to something else. This is a good method for people who struggle with procrastination. Once the timer goes off, they know they have to start working on their task even if they don’t feel like it.

Set an alarm near the end of the day and commit to not starting any time-wasting activities after this point. This will help avoid staying up late. When you stay up late, your productivity the following day is significantly reduced. It can also feed into a cycle of not being productive with your time or accomplishing important goals that you have set for yourself.

Eliminating time wasters from your life can be difficult, but it’s worth it. Not only will you be more productive, but you’ll also reduce your stress levels. So take some time to identify your biggest time wasters and develop a plan to reduce them. Your future self will thank you!

Tips for Better Time Management

  1. Man sitting at a desk making a detailed to do list in a paper planner journal.Set realistic goals. Setting goals is critical when it comes to time management. But it’s important to make sure those goals are realistic. If you set goals that are too high, you’re likely to get overwhelmed and stressed.
  2. Create a schedule. Once you have your goals in mind, it’s time to create a schedule. Knowing what you need to do and when you need to do it can help you better manage your time. Try to be as specific as possible with your schedule. For example, rather than saying you’ll work on a project from 9-10 am, say you’ll work on it from 9-9:30 am.
  3. Stick to your schedule. A schedule is no good if you don’t stick to it. When you create a schedule, make sure you commit to following it as closely as possible. Of course, there will be times when things come up, and you need to deviate from your schedule. That’s okay. Just try to get back on track as soon as possible.
  4. Create a list. Seeing what you need to accomplish for the day or week should help motivate you to get those items done before you consider doing something else. Checking things off of a list should help motivate you and keep you on track for accomplishing your goals.
  5. Prioritize. Not all tasks are created equal. Some are more important than others. That’s why it’s important to prioritize your tasks. When creating your schedule, start with the most important tasks first. This will help ensure that those tasks get done even if something comes up and you can’t finish everything on your list.
  6. Take breaks. It’s important to take breaks throughout the day. This will help you avoid burnout and stay fresh. When taking a break, make sure you’re doing something to relax. Don’t just check your email or scroll through social media. Instead, get up and walk around, take a nap, or read a book.
  7. Learn to say no. One of the reasons people have trouble managing their time is because they try to do too much. If you find yourself constantly taking on more than you can handle, it’s time to start saying no. You don’t have to do everything that’s asked of you. Instead, prioritize your commitments and only say yes to the most important things to you.
  8. Delegate. Another way to manage your time effectively is to delegate tasks. If you have people working for you, assign them tasks that they can handle. This will free up your time to focus on more important things.
  9. Avoid Procrastination. Procrastination is the enemy of time management. If you find yourself putting off tasks, it’s time to start changing your habits. One way to do this is to break down large tasks into smaller ones. That way, you can get started on a task without feeling overwhelmed.
  10. Eliminate distractions. Distractions can quickly derail your day and make it difficult to get anything done. When you’re trying to focus on a task, eliminate all distractions. Turn off your phone, close your email, and put away anything else that might take your attention away from what you’re doing.

How To Create a Schedule

Creating and following a schedule is often the #1 tip for effective time management. Creating a schedule can help you make the most of your time.

To create a schedule, start by listing out all of the tasks you need to do in a day. Then, estimate how long each task will take. Once you have an estimate for each task, start grouping them together into blocks of time. For example, you might group all of your work tasks together and block off a few hours for them. Then, you can block off another few hours for family time. Make sure to leave some free time in your schedule so that you can relax or take care of unexpected tasks.

Another way to create a schedule is to start with your current routine. Spend a couple of days making notes of what you’re doing throughout the day. Next, organize all of your notes into a scheduling app, spreadsheet, or paper. This will allow you to see how you currently spend your time visually. Make adjustments as needed.

Once you have created your schedule, try to stick to it as much as possible. This will help you use your time more efficiently.

Schedule Apps / Daily Planner Apps

Digital rendering of a smart phone with a calendar app open.There are many apps that can help you create and track your schedule. Some popular options include:

  • Google Calendar
  • Apple Calendar
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Wunderlist
  • Todoist
  • 30/30
  • Moments

If you find it challenging to stick to a schedule, consider using an app to help you track your time. This will allow you to see how you’re spending your time and make adjustments.

Tips for Following Your Schedule

Once you have created a schedule, there are a few things you can do to make sure you’re following it.

First, try to set reminders for yourself. This can be in the form of an alarm on your phone or a reminder on your computer. If possible, set up multiple reminders so that you don’t forget to follow your schedule.

Second, try to create a routine. This means doing the same thing at the same time each day. For example, if you have a daily work schedule, try to start working at the same time each day. This will help your body get into a rhythm and make it easier to stick to your schedule.

Finally, be flexible with your schedule. Things happen, and sometimes you need to deviate from your plan. That’s okay! Just try to get back on track as soon as possible.

Creating Time for Both Work and Family Responsibilities

It is important to make sure you’re dedicating time in your schedule for both work and family. Most people remember to schedule work time, especially since going to work involves leaving home for most people. However, it’s easy to forget to schedule family time. People often report they feel disappointed they seem to ‘run out of time’ and don’t have time to spend with their children and spouse as much as they’d like.

If you struggle to balance your time, consider outsourcing some of your work tasks or hiring a babysitter to free up some extra time. Additionally, try to make a schedule and stick to it as much as possible. This will help you use your time more efficiently.

It can be challenging to stick to a schedule 100% of the time, but it is important to try. When you are able to manage your time effectively, it can lead to greater productivity and success. In addition, effective time management can help reduce stress by ensuring that you are using your time wisely.

Taking Breaks and Vacations

Older couple taking a break or vacation outside sitting on a bench talking and laughing.It is important to take breaks to avoid feeling overwhelmed or stressed. This can help you clear your head and come back refreshed. Additionally, try to take vacations when you can. This will give you a chance to relax and rejuvenate.

Many people put off taking vacations because of the expense or feeling like they can’t get away from work. However, research has shown that even short-term vacations have “positive and immediate effects on perceived stress, recovery, strain, and well-being.” Further, this effect is still detected 30 and 45 days after the vacation.

Even if money is tight, it’s still important to consider a vacation at home. You could visit local parks, museums, and attractions. Or you could spend some time at home with your family building quality time together. Vacations offer a break from work and the rest of your busy schedule and are important for reducing stress and allowing your body to recharge.

While it is important to take breaks and vacations, it is also important to make sure you are not taking too many. If you find yourself taking too many breaks or holidays, it may indicate a more significant problem, such as burnout. Try to find a balance that works for you.

Spreading Out Predictable Sources of Stress

While some sources of stress are unpredictable, such as the sudden death of a family member, others are more predictable. For example, if you have a big project at work, you know when it is due months in advance. This type of stress is manageable because you can plan for it.

When you have a predictable source of stress, try to spread out the work so that you’re not doing everything at the last minute. This will help reduce your overall stress levels and make it easier to complete the project.

There are a number of ways to spread out work on a project. One way is to break up the project into smaller tasks and work on one task each day. Another way is to set aside specific days or times of day to work on the project.

For example, if you know you have a big presentation due in two weeks, you could set aside Monday and Wednesday mornings from 9 am-11 am to work on it. This will help ensure that you are making progress on the project without becoming overwhelmed.

Predictable sources of stress can be managed by breaking up the work into smaller tasks, setting aside specific days or times to work on the project, and communicating with your team or supervisor. You can reduce your overall stress levels and increase your chances of success by taking these steps.

Strategies for Saving Time

  • Set an alarm. When the alarm goes off, get up! Don’t hit snooze for the next 30 minutes.
  • Set out your clothes the night before.
  • Plan your exercise time right before when you would usually take a shower anyway (such as in the morning or evening).
  • Group similar tasks together and do them at the same time (phone calls, paying bills, errands, etc.)
  • A meal plan will make fixing dinner quicker since you’ll already know what you’re cooking. Meal planning will also make grocery shopping easier, and you’ll avoid last-minute trips to the store to pick up missing ingredients.
  • Grocery shop online. Many stores offer curbside pickup or home delivery. By shopping online, you’ll save the time of going through the store yourself. It’s also easier to avoid unhealthy treats by shopping online.
  • Use a slow cooker. Slow cookers are great for making big meals that will last you several days. This can be a huge time saver since you only have to cook once and have food for the rest of the week.
  • Stack of many containers of food meal prepped on a table.Batch cooking is another great way to save time in the kitchen. Batch cooking is when you make multiple meals at once and then freeze them. This way, you only have to cook once, but you have several meals ready to go. When you’re short on time, just pull one out of the freezer and reheat it.
  • Automate your finances. Automating your finances can help you save time by manually eliminating the need to pay bills each month. You can set up automatic payments for your mortgage, car payment, credit cards, and other bills. You’ll never have to worry about forgetting to pay a bill or being late on a payment.
  • Use a planner. A planner can help you save time by keeping track of your appointments, tasks, and goals. Having everything in one place makes you less likely to forget something important. Planners can also help you stay organized and on track.

The Bottom Line

Time management is critical for reducing stress levels. When you can effectively manage your time, you can avoid feeling overwhelmed and stressed. There are a number of ways to save time and reduce stress, including breaking up work into smaller tasks, setting aside specific days or times to work on projects, communicating with team members or supervisors, and using time-saving strategies like batch cooking and online grocery shopping. Using these tips can successfully manage your time and keep your stress levels under control.