All research shows that poor time management causes stress. But poor time management should be considered with as much importance to health as stress is, in the western world, as the origin of the stress. We need to treat the cause, not the symptom!
We all understand how destructive stress can be on our blood pressure, heart health and more. But poor time management has been proven to be a contributor to heightened feelings of anxiety, and this means that it, too, is a direct cause of all of the health-related issues that go hand in hand with stress.
Don’t believe me? One study in the US concluded that it was necessary to plan for better time management amongst its student nurse body, in order to reduce stress levels and improve academic motivation. Another study The Journal of Business noted, conclusively, that poor time management and increased stress were linked.
The problem then is that once we’re in that state of heightened anxiety, where our heads are beginning to spin and we can’t remember which day of the week we’ve made it to, it becomes more difficult to sit down and formulate a clear plan for our time. For that reason, starting out with good time management practices from an early age is a better solution to stress all round. If it’s already too late for that and you find yourself in the eye of the storm, so to speak, don’t worry. Time management skills can improve with the right sort of support.
Poor time management has us run ragged. It’s happened to every one of us at some point — a “dropped ball” at work or at home which knocks everything out of kilter and makes us feel out of control. And where we perceive that we’re lacking in control, we become stressed and short-tempered. We may start to resent others because we feel as though they’re piling tasks onto us which we don’t have the time for, but the problem here lies with us, not them. If we don’t manage our time well and we fall behind or fail to say ‘No’ when we really ought to, we’re sabotaging ourselves.
And it’s not only stress which is linked to health problems somewhere along the line. Anger has all sorts of unpleasant effects on our physical and mental wellbeing too, including digestive issues, headaches, sleeplessness, skin conditions and, most seriously, cardiac trouble. Of course, these things aren’t going to crop up overnight, but prolonged periods of anger will begin to chip away at our health if we let them, so one small way that we can reduce our risk of falling victim to ill-health is by taking better charge of our time.
This sounds a little melodramatic, perhaps, but the world that we live in is governed by calendars. Not least where things like bills are concerned. Most of us have direct debits set up for our household affairs — and if we don’t, we should — but for those of us who still process the odd payment manually, and lose track of our time, there are late payment penalties.
Then there are things like missing trains and flights which have the potential to cost us an awful lot of money in replacement tickets and, really, we have no excuse for it. Ensuring that we leave on time is a very basic time management skill but how often do we see empty seats on trains where reservations have been missed? There are wasted memberships which we sign up for with the best of intentions and then fail to make time to actually use, costing us a small fortune every month for a year — in some cases — which is simply wasted money. Think of all the good uses it could be put to!
And even when we do make our flight for the weekend away that we’ve been desperate for, it might end up feeling like wasted money if we’re constantly checking work emails and texts because we’ve left things in disarray back at the office. So, you see, we all have the potential to feel better off with a little extra steer in the time department.
This one’s quite obvious, really, given everything that we’ve already covered. If we’re suffering the effects of stress, feeling angry and frustrated and plain exhausted from trying to get on top of things, we might not be much fun to be around.
There are other unattractive traits that manifest from poor time management, such as an inability to plan short, medium and long-term goals. And then there’s the rather ironic link between those who struggle with time management and perfectionism — often expecting unrealistic standards, not only of oneself but of friends and partners. None of these situations is ideal for maintaining relationships and if we fail to take control of our time and, so, conquer these nasty side-effects, we’re at risk of pushing those closest to us away.
Nobody likes being the last kid in class to be picked as a teammate. But a sad fact of poor time management is that it leaves us vulnerable to missing opportunities.
At work, problems with time management lead to inefficient workflow, missed deadlines and poor quality of work. Then there’s the problem of irritability in a professional environment, however hard we try to leave our problems at the door. Bad moods can rub people up the wrong way and cause conflict, meaning that we’re less likely to be considered for progression, work trips and all the other perks that come with being a steadfast and assertive employee. Strong time management skills are seen as a mark of reliability and a reliable, assertive, employee will always be given preference over one who’s struggling to deliver on time, if at all.
So now that we’ve seen what can come from not handling our time properly, let’s look at how we can put better measures in place to succeed in our personal and professional lives, and feel happier and healthier for it.
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