Time Management Strategies for Workplace Stress Relief

Many workplaces around the world have transitioned employees to remote work, either fully or as a hybrid arrangement of home and office-based. Working from home means the lines between the office and your personal life may blur together. Whether it be family, roommates, pets or home-based hobbies, the parameters between work and personal life have grown closer, making time management between the two more difficult.

Time management and stress management can go hand in hand and to help you avoid going down that rabbit hole, we have some tips for establishing time management strategies to reduce stress at the workplace – wherever that may be.

A Typical Five-Step Plan for Time and Stress Management

Benjamin Franklin is thought to have coined the phrase, “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” There’s no doubt that preparation is a key component to completing a task successfully. When looking for time management best practices, mapping out the different parts of a project into a plan should be top of your list.

According to accomplished wellness coach, Elizabeth Scott, “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 can you avoid falling into this trap? Start to map out your projects using the five-step time management plan below.

1. Understand the steps required to get a particular task completed

Pro Tip: Avoid procrastinating. Start writing your thoughts down as soon as you think of them. Use the notes app on your smartphone or a pen and paper.

2. Record and schedule the steps to completion – in order

Pro Tip: Kayla Sloan, a financial productivity expert, suggests automating as many of the steps in your plan as possible.

3. Identify items on the list which may cause a “bottleneck”

Pro Tip: Things don’t always go as planned. You may not be able to foresee potential project disruptions ahead of time. Allow for flexibility within your timeline to account for roadblocks to completion.

4. Update the status of each step as it occurs

Pro Tip: Use a project management application, like Microsoft Planner, to track the status of each component.

5. At completion, evaluate your processes for future improvement

Pro Tip: Did you enjoy the process? Did the process allow you to better manage time and allow you to remain relatively stress-free throughout? Pick your favorite process and create a template to model future projects on.

Other Time Management Tips for Professionals

Set boundaries: Pick a time where you transition between work tasks and your personal life.

Set mental deadlines: Do you have a project due in five days? Set your internal deadline at three days to allow for added flexibility.

Prioritize tasks: This ensures you’re spending your time and energy on the things that are most important to you. What needs to be done now and what can wait? You may consider organizing your tasks into three categories: urgent, important, not important.

Learn to say no: Before you agree to take on additional tasks, ask yourself if it’s in line with your goals. Attempting to do too much can lead to additional stress and ultimately getting less out of each activity. If you find it hard to say no, try to use phrases like “can I get back to you later?” or “let me think about it.” This will buy you more time to weigh your final decision.

Break large tasks into small pieces: If you know you won’t be able to focus on a project for three hours continuously, break up your work into one-hour blocks over three days if possible.

Avoid tech distractions: Besides the tech you’re using to get your tasks done, consider muting notifications or setting screen time limits on other apps that may distract you during work hours.

Take coordinated breaks throughout the day: Walk around, make a coffee or tea, or give a friend a quick call to say hello. Taking short breaks throughout the day can provide for a much-needed mental reset.

Take a vacation: Use your allotted vacation time and completely disconnect while you are away from the office.

The Bottom Line: Use Time Management Strategies to Find Your Balance

There will be very few people that can admit to having found the perfect strategy for time management at work. Most people can only hope to find something that works in the moment. The reality is that managing time is an ever-changing process. It evolves based on day-to-day task disruptions, sudden projects, new roles and more. One of the biggest roadblocks to managing time happens when we emphasize task completion over maintaining a balanced schedule. Taking this approach will undoubtedly create stress, rather than reduce it. Implementing time management strategies at work can improve your life in the long run by making it less stressful and more meaningful.