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5 Scheduling Techniques to Reduce Stress

Steven Losardo, LMFT

Whether you’re looking to reduce the stress levels of your employees or yourself, managing the way you schedule time makes a significant difference. Our lives are about finding a balance between work, being social, and caring for yourselves. If one of those is out of place or off balance, it reflects in the way we engage in our day to day lives. There are five scheduling techniques that can help keep things in balance in order to be productive, successful, and overall happy!

  1. Optimize your personal peak performance times

Everyone has different times of the day that they are the most productive. For some people, this is first thing in the morning and for others it may be in the afternoon once they’ve had time to wake up. By taking the time to learn what times of day leads to peak performance levels for you, you can then adopt a schedule or routine that emphasizes those times of the day as “work time”. This will then lead to a more productive workday.

  1. Do the tasks you hate the most, first

Procrastination is by far the biggest enemy of a successful work schedule. In particular, we tend to avoid doing the tasks we dislike the most and focusing on the ones that are easier or that we enjoy. Whereas this can get us off to a good start, it also ultimately leads to burnout. It’s best to use the times that you are most efficient to do the work you dislike as your brain is at its most optimal functioning level. Then, you can get your easy work or preferred done quicker as your motivation will be up.

  1. Know your focusing capabilities

Some people can sit down for hours on end and work, others can only focus on one task for short periods of time. Knowing your focusing capabilities will play a key role in how you schedule your time or how a company schedules your time. If you are someone who works best by focusing on one topic in short bursts (such as 30-minute increments), then schedule your time in a manner that allows you to switch up your assignments in that time frame. If you can go several hours, then make those adjustments and allow time for breaks.

  1. Allow frequent breaks

Kahn, et al 2011 talks about the importance of a flexible schedule and take a break in order to improve functioning. Your brain is a muscle. It can only handle so much work in a singular time period before getting burnt out. You’ll notice mental burn out if you’ve been working for an extended amount of time as you will start to feel tired, find your mind wandering, and experience physical symptoms like neck pain. Allowing frequent short breaks will give your brain time to revamp. Consider the following actions during a break:

  • Go for a short walk
  • Stretch
  • Listen to some music
  • Close your eyes for a few minutes
  1. Time-blocking 

Some people work best when their days are planned out in a time blocking format. Meaning, everything is scheduled (often down to the hour). There are varying ways to time block your schedule, but for the most part the formula is the same.  

For example, from 8-9 am you have a meeting with your boss (urgent), from 9-12 you can work on your assignments for the day, from 12-1 you take a break and eat, etc. This scheduling keeps your day organized so nothing is up to chance! This schedule also works wonders on learning to schedule socialization time so that your personal life doesn’t fall through the cracks. Gottman, 2016 discusses the effectiveness of this method for couples looking to better optimize their time and make sure they are getting their time together!

Scheduling your day efficiently leads to optimal work performance, happier people, healthier people, and a balanced life. Consider scheduling out your time in pieces, allowing time for breaks so that you can recharge and be your most efficient. Remember to optimize your personal peak performance times as well so that you are getting everything done during the time of day you feel the most successful.

References

Gottman, J. (2016). Gottman method couple therapy. Clinical handbook of couple therapy, 4(8),

138-164. Retrieved from https://www.gottman.com/blog/the-four-horsemen-recognizing

criticism contempt-defensiveness-and-stonewalling/ on September 27, 2021

Khan, R. A. G., Khan, F. A., Khan, M. A., & Shakeel, M. (2011). Impact of flexible scheduling

on employee performance regarding stress and work-family conflict. Far East Journal of

Psychology and Business, 4(3), 1-14.

Perlman, M. (2014). What’s best next: How the Gospel transforms the way you get things done.

Zondervan.  

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