Question: I'm Just Too Busy. How Do I Find More Time?
"I feel like I'm always rushing, always stressed, and still don't have enough time for the things in life that are most important to me. This stresses me out a lot. What can I do?"
Answer: Yours is a common problem. Many people find themselves too busy these days, which causes stress. The reasons vary from person to person, but the following are some main ones why people find themselves too busy, along with time management and stress management ideas to help:
- It's OK To Say No: Many people end up overscheduling themselves because they feel uncomfortable saying "no" when people ask things of them. This may be because they don't want to admit to themselves that they can't "do it all," or perhaps because they don't want to disappoint others. Unfortunately, they ultimately disappoint themselves by not having enough time to do what's important to them. Does this apply to you? If so, learning to say no might be a good time management priority. Here's a resource on how to say no. Use it to create space in your schedule for what's important to you.
- Be Clear On Your Priorities: Others become overscheduled because they add activities to their schedules for the wrong reasons, and end up spending their days doing things that don't reflect their values and priorities. Then they find themselves struggling to fit in what's important to them. Necessities like adequate sleep and other healthy habits fall by the wayside. Is this you? To find out, make a list of what's most important to you. List things like family, friends and career. Then look at how you spend your days. See how much time goes to these things. Is it a good match, or are you spending an inordinate amount of time doing things that aren't as important to you? It's never too late to make changes. (See this article for more on setting priorities in your schedule.)
- Map It Out: A common time management trap many people fall into is that they don't know where their time goes, or they overestimate the amount of time they have available and underestimate the amount of time each activity takes to complete, and become overcommitted. How many times have you found yourself adding new activities to your schedule when you don't really know how you'll find the time to do them? If you remember several such instances, you may need to keep a careful schedule, writing down everything you do. Don't agree to new activities until you've found a way to pencil them in, overestimating the amount of time you think it will take to complete them.
- Manage Money Wisely: It's become increasingly common for people to work more than they'd like because finances demand it. Many people are working longer hours and even more than one job. Do you find that you're working hard to pay the bills, and when you're not working, you're still worrying about money? Do you know where your money goes? To get out from under debt and financial woes, you need a plan that involves spending less, saving, paying off debt, and possibly earning more (not by working more but by getting paid what you're worth). The Financial Stress section of this site can help you with all of that.
- Stay Organized: In addition to keeping an organized schedule, as mentioned above, it's important to maintain an organized home. Most people don't realize how much time and money are sucked up (not to mention stress created) by living in an environment where things are difficult to find and relaxation is a challenge. This section on staying organized can help you to stop the drain on your time that a messy home can create.
- To Thine Own Self Be True: Knowing yourself well can also help you to avoid getting overwhelmed. How? For one thing, by knowing your limitations, you avoid taking on too much. For example, if you know you're not the best manager of people, you can avoid putting yourself in a position where you'll be asked to do management-type tasks, saving yourself stress and the extra time and energy it would take to learn to do this better. Also, if you constantly put yourself in a position of taking on more than you can handle, take an honest look inward to help you figure out what's behind this. That way, you can stop.
These resources should give you a good start on a less harried lifestyle. In the meantime, here are some more time management tips for moms, and stress relievers for busy people. They fit easily into a busy schedule to keep you more calm, cool, and collected. For more tips, research, and resources on stress management, subscribe to the free weekly Stress Management Newsletter. You can also connect with us right now on Facebook--see you there!