How Time Management Reduces Your Stress
Whether you’re a student, an athlete, a young professional, or even all three, sometimes we all feel as though there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. Especially when you get your first taste of being an adult – the freedom to manage your own hours – you may find that sleeping well, eating well, working, and finding time for hobbies and socializing is a challenge of epic proportions… and that can be a very stressful realization. It also helps to explain how time management reduces stress, and what you can do to get started on easing your burden.
What is Time Management?
What feels like a basic question is actually a great place to start exploring how time management reduces stress. Time management can mean a lot of things: it can be a strategy you employ to keep ahead of your deadlines, a skill you possess that helps you avoid procrastination, or an instinct that lets you know how much time you need to complete a task. No matter which form it takes, however, it helps you to assess the long list of things you need to work on so you can feel more confident about taking each task on.
To put it simply, managing your time removes uncertainty from your day. You can even start small: if you know you have a one-hour class at 12:30pm, and you know you want to hit the gym for 2:00pm, you can start working the rest of your schedule around these two things. For example, you can decide to eat your lunch at 12:00pm, leaving you with a half-hour window between class and the gym that you can spend working on homework. Now that you have a reasonable deadline that precedes something fun and healthy, it becomes much easier to tackle your schoolwork.
This is how time management reduces stress: by being the opposite to an unknown in your life and creating certainty. You know that if you don’t get your schoolwork done, your grades may suffer, so knowing how you’re going to find time to get it done will help you to feel better and at ease!
It isn't always easy; you might find you have troubles with procrastination or over-planning. You might have difficulty sticking to your schedule, or you might find you don't or can't schedule yourself enough free time to make up for it. A mistake made that increases time on a particular project can throw the whole thing in disarray, and that can be disheartening too. Remember that time management is also a skill, and like any other, it needs to be trained and practiced. Don't give up! And do your best to adapt as needed.
How to Improve Time Management and Reduce Stress
If you’re not so good at time management, don’t worry! You can practice a few different ways to work it into your routines:
- Know yourself and your habits. If you study best at night, for example, leave that time open on your calendar and stick with it!
- Practice prioritization. If you’re the one putting the calendar together, you can change it too – resist! If 7:00pm to 8:00pm is time spent studying, practicing your sport, or relaxing, treat it the same as you would a class or appointment: unchangeable, except in an emergency.
- Consult an agenda or calendar regularly. This makes it easier to visualize your time management, reducing stress further and helping you assess the feasibility of your strategy.
Time management reduces stress by giving you more control over your day. Strong organizational habits make it much harder to stress over difficult assignments, upcoming games, or big projects; they allow you to react to the work itself, rather than the time you need to find to do it. Smart compression can make it even easier to stay organized and keep focused! And once you start putting in that work, you will be amazed at how much easier working can be.
1. Ma, J. (Y.), Kerulis, A. M., Wang, Y., & Sachdev, A. R. (2020). Are workflow interruptions a hindrance stressor? The moderating effect of time-management skill. International Journal of Stress Management, 27(3), 252–261. https://doi.org/10.1037/str0000149
2. Macquet, A. -C & Skalej, Vincent. (2015). Time management in elite sports: How do elite athletes manage time under fatigue and stress conditions?. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology. 88. 10.1111/joop.12105.