It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.
You like to maximize your time, but you have an arm long list of things that continuously fight for your attention. Even worse, the list includes things you have no interest in doing. Ideally you have 16 waking hours each day to get things done, but managing time can be challenging when you have stress and anxiety. This adds to your frustration and makes you angry and forgetful.
When your life feels complicated, frustrating, or boring, what things are you giving the most of your attention?
Number these activities in order (1 being where you spend most of your time)
- Fun – entertainment
- Yard work
Now write this list in the order where you would like to be spending your time.
If you’re your number one priority is your health, and you have no time to exercise, you will mentally and physically feel the effects of inactivity.
Things You Can Do To Get Control Of Your Time
De-clutter Your House
Getting control of your space is one of the most important things you can do when your goal is to gain more time and have a purposeful, organized life. When you are spending time organizing/cleaning your house daily and on weekends, you are losing several hours a week that you could be doing something else. Initially, you will need to give up time to complete this task, but you’ll get months/years back if you simplify your belongings and your life, for good. There are many other benefits you will experience from simplifying. Commit going through your entire house and figure out if you use and love the stuff you have. If not, you could donate it to someone who would be grateful to have it, or throw it out.
You only have 52 Saturdays a year, and limited time at night after working all day. Be more selfish with your time and with whom you are spending it with. If you are asked to do something that doesn’t excite you, say no. The frustration you feel by saying yes is going to be greater than the guilt you will feel for saying no. The more you do this, the easier it gets, and the better you will feel.
Manage Your Time By The Hour
Plan your day out by the hour at first, to get a better idea of what you are actually doing and what it is you can accomplish. Be realistic about what you can do in that hour. If you have a few appointments in a day with limited time, try not to add more stops to the store, dry cleaner, and pharmacy in between where you might make yourself late. This just adds stress and more anxiety. Planning your time also gives you more control of your day because you are consciously making an effort to make it work for you. You will also see how much time you’re wasting.
Take Your Time
Leave 10-15 minutes early for wherever you have to go, put on your favorite music and drive in the slow lane. This minimizes the frustration of cars trying to get by you or cutting you off. You will be safer and less stressed as you get to where you’re going.
Don’t Waste Time
If you have an appointment and it takes a half hour to get there, give yourself 45 minutes to an hour and take your time. Before you leave, plan ahead and have something worthwhile to do if you’re early or have to wait. You could read, plan your meals for the week, or brainstorm ideas for your project. This brings a sense of accomplishment without the added stress. It’s better than wasting time on your phone.
Consider using a nice leather journal to make a daily list of what you’d like to get done. Get up 10-15 minutes earlier to enjoy your coffee and plan your day. Whatever you don’t finish carry it over to your list for the next day. Lower your expectations of what you can do and be kinder to yourself.
Spend Time Alone
With anxiety, being alone can be uncomfortable. Try not to fill up your day with too many activities so you won’t have to be alone. Relaxation with imagery or meditation even for 10 minutes a day can help you feel more peaceful. There are lots of great apps for either. It gets easier with practice and having alone time can be the best part of your day. You can relax with your coffee and wake up slowly, or take the time for yourself after work or before you go to bed.
Go To Bed Earlier
Try going to bed earlier so you can wake up earlier. An extra hour in the morning will give you time to yourself – wake up slowly- leisurely get ready for your day. Leave your phone in another room so you can daydream- look out the window- sit outside. It’s helpful to wake up 15 minutes earlier for several days, then move it to a half hour, then 45 minutes, and work your way up to an hour. Giving up an hour of TV each night is worth not having to rush in the morning.
Our minds are flooded by our thoughts because that’s what they are made to do. With anxiety, the thoughts are mostly negative. Meditation helps you to focus specifically on what you are thinking and doing in the present moment so you can slow down your thoughts. It reminds you to question what you are thinking – so you can re-channel negative thoughts into truthful thoughts, which relieves stress and anxiety. Focusing on one thing at a time can increase your happiness and productivity.
10 Minutes A Day
Practicing meditation for just 10 minutes a day helps you to pay attention to what you are doing, when you are doing it. It will remind you to be grateful for the little things. If you are focusing on the present, then you can’t be worrying about the future or dwelling on the past. Jon Kabat-Zinn is one of my favorites with many meditations to choose from.
Stop Watching The News
When I had anxiety disorder I stopped watching the news altogether because bad news added to my already high levels of stress. There are other ways to get information about what’s happening in the world. If you aren’t able to give up watching the news completely, try limiting it as much as possible. We could also do without the constant reminder of the opposing political party. Our vote is our way to make a difference, which can help us skip all of the grief in between.
A walking meditation allows you to do two things at once – focus your mind and exercise. Try paying attention to what you are seeing, hearing, or smelling as a way to stay present. Your mind will wander, but the practice of recognizing this and bringing it back to paying attention means you are having success. If you can get to the woods your stress levels will decrease even more.
If I’m walking around my neighborhood, sometimes I count to 10 over and over. I picture the numbers in my head and use my fingers as I say the numbers out loud. Doing this for 5 to 10 minutes helps me to stay in the present. I’ll go as long as I can before my mind wanders. When it does – I acknowledge what I’m thinking and get back to counting. When my walk is over my mind is clear. Meditating helps your mind relax in the present and the future.
Prepare For the Next Day
When you get home from work (or if you’re already home -do this in the afternoon) Make lunch for the next day- pick out your clothes – get the coffee ready – get your sneakers and exercise clothes out (the day before to minimize your excuse not to go) – empty the dishwasher – get dinner stuff ready – throw a load of clothes in.
All of this will take 20-30 minutes. When you get up the next day, you don’t have to think. Who wants to think?! You can relax with a cup of coffee. If you’re rushing out the door, you are going to forget your phone, lunch, grocery list or or whatever else. The frustration will probably continue when you get to work. In addition, If your house is clear of clutter – you will not have anything else to do at night except make dinner and maybe watch something good on Netflix.
Realize that you can’t do it all. You’d be surprised to see how much gets done when you let go of trying to do everything. Ask for help. Let others take responsibility for themselves. Before long you’ll feel less stressed and wonder why you didn’t delegate sooner!
Have A Good Sleep Routine
Get into a good sleep routine. Your body has a natural rhythm of sleep. If you go to bed around the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning, you will sleep better. It’s OK to stay in bed for an extra hour on weekends but drastically changing your sleep routine (especially on weekends) may negatively affect your week’s sleep.
Just Start it
Once you begin something that you’ve been putting off your attitude will change once you start. Your attitude comes from your behavior. Reward yourself for the tough projects that you accomplish with a dinner out – a new book –a day trip!
We all have the same 24 hours in a day, and hopefully sleep for 8 them. If we’re stressed, anxious, bored, or frustrated, we will feel triumphant when we are able to consciously manage our choices to maximize our time for the 16 waking hours that we do have.
What helps you manage your time?
by Gretchen Rubin
Gretchen Rubin wrote this book because she realized that time was passing and she was not focusing the things that really mattered.
This is a wonderful, light read about her adventures, scientific research, lessons and wisdom from people around the world on how to live a happier life.
When we make very small changes in our lives, it can make a big difference!