by Julie Fuimano, MBA, BSN, RN Minority Nurse Writer
Life is so fast-paced today with people trying to do so much that many people find themselves stressed to the max. By maintaining a state of constant busyness, people run themselves into exhaustion. And, at the end of the day, they're thinking, "There's got to be a better way."
Life is not a race to the finish. In spite of your success and accomplishments, you should be enjoying yourself. To which my clients ask, "But I have so much to do, how do I get it all done and enjoy myself?"
Trying to do more at faster speeds isn't the answer. Maintaining that "gotta-get-it-done" mindset causes the body to maintain a heightened sense of readiness and alertness by releasing adrenaline, the body's natural equivalent to caffeine. Over longs periods of time, the constant use of adrenaline as an energy source leads to decreased immunity, heart disease, stroke, insomnia and anxiety. Living a life of constant "up-ness" is not a peaceful or healthy approach to living.
Perhaps the answer isn't to do more, but to do less, and to target your energies to do the right things. By shifting how you use your time and learning to value your time differently, you can do more of the right things, which will help you reach your goals. By learning to take your time more seriously, to do more of the right things and to focus on enjoying the present, you experience greater personal fulfillment while achieving more.
Take Your Time Seriously
Time is the most precious thing you own. What you do today determines what you bring into your life in the future. How you use (or lose) your time is your choice. This means, you can learn to become more effective and experience less stress.
It's easy to get caught up in the minutiae or events of the moment. You remain focused on just getting things done rather than keeping the bigger picture in mind. But staying busy is a trap; it distracts you from what's really important.
If you keep moving long enough you won't notice that you're off course. It's like taking a trip without knowing your destination. By creating clear and inspiring goals, you set the destination for your course. Then you can evaluate whether what you are doing in the moment is contributing to your overall goals and objectives. Is what you're doing at this moment the best use of your time? Are your actions moving you in the direction of your goals?
Value your time by taking it seriously. Become more aware of how you spend your time and whether those things add value to your life or drain your energy and steal your time. Consider the things you do at work and in your spare time, the people you spend time with, the conversations you have and the meetings you attend. Look for ways to streamline processes, eliminate unproductive or negative conversations, interruptions and distractions. By monitoring your time with vigilance, eliminating unproductive activities and adding things that you enjoy or that develop you personally or professionally, you gain control of your time and experience greater levels of personal satisfaction.
Do the Right Things
There are three major parts to doing the right things:
1 Are the activities being performed necessary to meet your company's mission and move you toward goal achievement?
2 Is what you're doing the best use of your time, energy and expertise?
3 Are you delegating most effectively in order to use the resources of your team most efficiently?
Number one relates to your strategy, the road map you're using to get to your destination. Are your strategies meeting your department or company objectives? Are your team members focusing their time on activities that move you closer to those objectives? Clearly, there needs to be ongoing evaluation in order to assess the effectiveness of your current strategy. You have to check your road map regularly to determine if you're headed in the right direction.
Number two is about you and your personal effectiveness. Are you accomplishing what you intend? Do you feel good about your daily work? Are you meeting your objectives easily or are you struggling?
If you're struggling, ask yourself why. It might mean you need additional information or that you don't have the required expertise or maybe you just need a break. Don't resist the struggle; uncover the source so you can move beyond it.
Clarify needs versus wants. There is much that you might want to do or that needs to get done but that may not be necessary or appropriate for you to do. Eliminate those items not essential for goal achievement. Learn to delegate those things best accomplished by others and hold them accountable. Focus on only those things that you need to do yourself or on things that will develop you personally or professionally. The cost for spending time negligently is that you cannot do what's necessary. You cannot retrieve lost time.
Learning to delegate well is an important part of leadership and personal effectiveness. If you're a control freak and can't seem to let others do their work, then you will remain in a state of struggle and stress. There will never be enough time to do it all, you will resent others, you will not be happy-and neither will those around you. You cannot be the expert in everything. Discover what's the best use of your time and delegate (or eliminate) the rest.
Focus on the Present
The present is a gift. You've probably heard that saying before. But what does that really mean? And what's that have to do with time effectiveness and eliminating stress?
If you worry about all of the things you have to do or how you're going to accomplish them, if you live in fear or anxiety over what might happen, then you are living in the future. You cannot worry yourself into a state of well-being.
Worry is stress. It takes you out of the present and puts you in the future.
If you are living an adrenaline lifestyle, then you are sacrificing your future and your present by burning through today at such speeds that you are not truly present-you're just getting it done. By staying busy, you miss out on the pleasure in the moment-the gift of the "present".
Learning to take control of your time and stay grounded in the present is about mastering you and your personal effectiveness. The only commodity you own is your time. You can invest it or spend it; either way, it keeps ticking.