'To-Do' Lists Can Provide Instant Stress Relief, But Don't Let Them Stress You Out
To-do lists can be your friend, providing instant stress relief when you need it most. Unfortunately, they can stress you out if you don't use them properly. Once you have the format down so that it fits your pace, you will find to-do lists extremely beneficial for easing stress and making your life run smoothly.
Instant stress relief is something many people would enjoy, especially those of us with too much to do and no real plan to get it done.
People who are disorganized can experience stress simply because of the disaster that they face every day. Rather than jotting down all the things they need to do, they keep the list in their heads. That's a big mistake because eventually, they become overwhelmed with stress-related anxiety.
They seek various ways to achieve instant stress relief. Smokers get it when they light up. Mothers get it when they shunt the kids off to day care and relax in a hot tub. Workaholics look forward to that glass of wine at the end of the day. Meanwhile, the work goes undone.
The problem with these strategies is that they are short term. If the stress comes from having to fit too much into a day, the situation repeats itself day after day without resolution.
A better option is to create to-do lists because they offer a way for you to schedule an otherwise chaotic life. Plus, they have a more long-lasting effect.
If you are such a person, perhaps it's time for you to start your to-do lists. They will provide a sense of order and a short or long term plan for you to follow.
Realize, however, that to-do lists themselves can trigger stress. In fact, if you don't do it right, they can stress you out.
You've probably come across the suggestion to use to-do lists as a stress relief strategy, which is good advice. What they don't tell you is that it's equally important to know how to schedule your time.
To schedule effectively, you have to be able to determine how long each task is likely to take. This can be difficult if you haven't paid much attention to the clock in the past. How many people actually time their tasks, unless they are in an office with specific deadlines?
If you lack this time-management skill, it can jeopardize your strategy of using to-do lists for instant stress relief. Yes, you will get some immediate relief getting all those tasks out of your head and onto paper, but it also can trigger stress.
Imagine writing down a huge list of things you've been meaning to do for the past year or more. The list will be huge and overwhelming. You need to break that larger list down into shorter lists that you can handle.
Create weekly and daily to-do lists, beginning with the most important items and leaving the less crucial ones until the end. Go through each list and strike off each item as it is completed.
A common problem for many stressed people is that they put too many things on the list, only to be discouraged and more stressed when jobs aren't done.
If you've never timed yourself before, this is a good time to start. Work on your first list. Don't forget to allow time for breaks, lunch and recovery between tasks. Don't worry about whether you accomplish it all. Do each task at your own pace and see how long it takes. Mark down the time next to that item on your list. Go through as many items as you can in one day.
The next day, go back over your first day's activities and see how many tasks you accomplished and how long each one took. How long did it take you to do all the tasks you completed?
Now go back through your big list and select items that you figure will take you the same amount of time to complete.
Don't let your to-do lists stress you out. Start with your main list. Create one short list of things you want to do the next day. Reschedule the uncompleted items for the next day. Before long, you'll find it easier to create to-do lists that you can accomplish easily.
Get into a routine and make to-do lists work for you. They will provide that instant stress relief you desire.
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