Much of your stress starts with either lack of a plan or a bad plan.
Lack of a plan means that you have no (known, valid) reason to say no. Requests, demands, suggestions, obligations, interruptions come at you. You stutter and stammer and end up obligating yourself to 157 things you don’t want to do.
But without a plan, you have no direction. You have not claimed your time, stated your purpose, so others feel free to claim it themselves. (I’m not saying this is right, but it’s going to happen.)
A bad plan can be bad in a lot of different ways.
- You’ve crammed too much into the time you have.
- You’ve filled your day with stuff that doesn’t really matter to you.
- You’ve added a bunch of other people’s priorities to your plan.
- You don’t have the resources or tools you need to do what’s on your plan.
This is a bad way to spend your life.
Make a better plan
Start with planning your day before the day arrives. Don’t wait for the impulse of the moment to guide you in the right direction.
Planning can become a means of procrastination, so if that’s a struggle for you, set a time limit.
Have a plan for your day on paper (or your computer or your smartphone, whatever). The point is to write (or type) your plan out because doing so signifies commitment.
Block out your top three tasks for the day, note your other obligations, get rid of anything you can get rid of before the day arrives.
Take ten minutes once the day begins to review your plan.
- So you remember what your goals for the day are. This helps you stay focused and on task.
- So you can once again assess what’s in your day and get rid of anything you can get rid of.
Planning to tackle more than three major tasks in a day? Don’t do it. Spread it out over the week.
Block in time for rest, family, yourself, whatever you need. Make appointments. If you want to reserve some time but don’t know what for, exactly, just don’t want it to be available, block it out with some sort of imaginary commitment. Nobody but you has to know it’s imaginary.
Plan your top priorities, stick to them, and let the rest of the details fall in where there’s space.
Think about what you want to have accomplished at the end of this week. Think about what’s realistic. Divide the week’s goals into daily actions and assign them a time/space in your day.