Stress Management For Dummies
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An important step in changing the way you manage your time, which in turn relieves every day stress, is becoming aware of how you use your time. Without awareness, your time management can become a victim of your time-wasting patterns.

You repeat the same patterns of thinking and behavior, failing to step away and consider how you’re using your time. The price you pay ranges from the minor (lateness, procrastination, missed deadlines) to the more dramatic (missed opportunities and life experiences). Here are some tips for how to be more mindful about time management to get the results you want.

One good way of becoming mindful of your time is to use naturally occurring cues and prompts as signals to stop for a moment, take a breath, and consider how you’re using your time. A prompt or cue can take various forms.

It can be as simple as turning on your computer or beginning a new task. These basic behaviors prompt you to mentally step away from what you’re doing and take a more careful look at what you have done and what you will do.

You can also introduce cues or prompts that are not naturally occurring. Stick a small paper dot on your watch face or use that photograph of your last family vacation as reminders to become more mindful of what you’re doing or not doing.

Here are some other possible cues and prompts that could act as reminders:

  • Hanging up after a phone call

  • Feeling the urge to check your e-mail

  • Leaving your office or cubicle

  • Sending the kids off to school

  • Finishing a task

  • Taking a bathroom break

  • Ending a meal

  • Checking the time

  • Turning on the TV

  • Thinking of visiting your favorite social-media site

So, instead of automatically checking your e-mail every ten minutes or turning on the TV every time you’re bored, use the behaviors as your cues to stop what you’re about to do, step back mentally, take a breath or two, and gain some emotional distance. When you have that distance and awareness, ask yourself some pertinent questions that can help you evaluate how you’re about to use your time.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Allen Elkin, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and the director of The Stress Management & Counseling Center in New York City. Nationally known for his expertise in the field of stress and emotional disorders, he has appeared frequently on Today, Good Morning America, and Good Day New York.

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