You’ve Got Your Whole World in Your Hands
By Jeff Davidson, MBA, CMC
All things in your life might seem as if they’re running together into one big blur when you don’t feel in control of your time. You end up feeling overwhelmed and highly stressed. Our rush-rush, go-go society doesn’t help… it exaggerates our sense that “time is slipping away,” and contributes to our rising stress levels.
The key to regaining control of your day is to understand that you do have choices, you can institute measures of control over your life. I’m not referring to more items for your to-do list. Rather, these are ways to change the way you view time and in turn, have more control over your environment.
To help illustrate the choices we all have, here’s an example of a typical morning routine: You wake up to an alarm clock, and flip on the radio or TV first thing for the news. Then you rush to find something to wear, wolf down some breakfast (if you eat anything), scramble to find your briefcase and keys, then jump in the car. You navigate through snarled traffic to get to work, and by the time you sit down at your desk to start your day, you’re already exhausted and stressed about the day ahead. And it’s no wonder – if you begin the day “out of control,” how can you expect the rest of the day to go well?
How Could it Be?
Now let’s look at that same example and examine other choices you can make: You wake up to an alarm clock. Yet, if you need an alarm to get you out of bed, you’re not getting enough sleep. Sleep is essential to your productivity, your sense of control and your good health. You should be able to wake up naturally at the same time each morning, so if you’re not, go to bed earlier.
Next, you flip on the TV news or fire up your smart phone. You want to be informed, but in reality, you’re simply being bombarded, often with information you can’t use. Since you have little or no connection to the news, it comes across as noise, which heightens your stress. You’re better off using that time visualizing how you want your day to go.
You rush to find something to wear. If you’re running late in the morning and simply grab any old thing, you won’t feel as polished as you would if you had laid out your clothes the night before. It only takes 10 seconds to pick out what you’re going to wear, but mentally, it’s an extremely valuable tool – you eliminate the rushed decision-making in your morning that adds to your daily stress.
You wolf down some cereal or eggs. Skipping breakfast or wolfing it down leaves you without the nourishment you need to lead a productive day. You don’t need a three-course breakfast – just have some cereal or fruit on hand and, here’s the key, eat it slowly. Eating slowly gives the nutrients a chance to do their job.
Your scramble to find your briefcase and keys. Again, this is a matter of spending a few seconds the night before placing items you need for work by the door, so you can take them on your way out. Better yet, automatically leave your keys and briefcase by the door as soon as you get home from work, so you’ll always know where they are.
Change Your Approach to Lower Your Stress
By slightly altering your daily routine to better “manage the beforehand,” you can begin to take back control of your day. You have to be brutally honest with yourself and admit that no one is making you stay up late, no one is making you eat a certain way, or dress a certain way. How you approach your day is solely up to you, they are your choices.
If you’re feeling stressed as a result of your choices, you can’t blame that on your boss, or the mortgage you have to pay, or your commute. You can exercise personal mastery and freedom of choice to lead the quality life you deserve, but it’s up to you to do it. Start today.
Jeff Davidson, “The Work-Life Balance Expert®,” is the world’s leading personal brand in terms of speaking, writing, or reflecting upon work-life balance issues. He is the author of “Dial it Down, Live it Up,” “Simpler Living,” “Breathing Space,” “The 60 Second Self-Starter,” “The 60 Second Organizer,” “The 10 Minute Guide to Managing Your Time,” and “The 10 Minute Guide to Managing Stress,” as well as 24 iPhone apps in the “Work-Life Guide” series. His books have been published in 19 languages, and in aggregate 141 times. Jeff is an Advisory Board member for The Organized Executive, a monthly publication of the Columbia Books, Washington DC. He holds the registered trademark as “The Work-Life Balance Expert.” Jeff can be reached at http://www.BreathingSpace.com