|Improve your productivity by
finding solutions to stressors connected to hours of the day|
Brandau, CSP, http://www.KarlaBrandau.com
There is a significant relationship between time management and
stress management. If you are a better time manager, you experience less
stress and if you manage your stress, you are a better time manager.
Time and stress are siblings. If they get along, everything is rosy but
if they fight, life is pretty is miserable.
I was asked to customize a program for Whirlpool and as the meeting
planner outlined their needs, it dawned on me that she was describing
predictable stressors tied to time management challenges regularly
occurring at certain hours of the day, like siblings predictably
fighting over who gets the biggest helping of ice cream. I then designed
the table included in this article and led the Whirlpool workers through
the exercise of identifying their personal stressors based on the time
of the day. We next explored what time principles or stress concepts
could be implemented in order to feel better physically, mentally and
emotionally. For a copy of this exercise, go to
Some universal truths surfaced. Those truths were:
1. Differentiate a Master Task List vs. Daily Task List. Maintain a
master task list that contains everything you have to accomplish,
including long term project tasks. The daily task list details what you
can physically accomplish today.
2. Divide Time Between Interactions and Production. There are two
critical parts to your day: interactions and production. It is important
to maintain your focus during each. A past president of United Airlines
realized that his entire day was just one big interruption so he solved
it by staying home the first 90 minutes of each day, doing all of his
work and then going to the office and handling the interruptions.
3. Don't Let Deadlines Distort. From a productivity viewpoint,
deadlines are good because they move you into action. However, when
faced with a simple deadline of getting out the door on time or getting
the figures to your manager by 2:00, and you are behind because of the
"anything that can go wrong, will go wrong" phenomenon, you get that
out-of-control anxiety exactly like the dreaded bodily response when you
realized the time was up for the Algebra test and you had four problems
left. Productivity is freeze-framed. To work around deadlines, always
attack the issue early and allow extra time for things to go wrong
because they will!
4. Survive Avalanche E-mail. To avoid the oppressive presence of
unanswered e-mails takes expertise of the tool, knowledge of how to
write e-mails for quick transfer of information and organizational
policies that prohibit the proliferation of needless communications.
Have a company meeting and make a decision to stop the ‘Reply to all'
and the 'Carbon Copy' all frenzy. Another quick tip is to set up
standards for e-mail subject lines. Putting the client name or project
number in the subject line, make it easy to recognize and sort e-mail
with the rules wizard.
5. Lunch Time Decisions. Perhaps lunch time, more than any other time
of day, brings a plethora of choices: Do I run errands? Should I brown
bag it and work through lunch to try to catch up? Should I have fast
food? Will the restaurant I really want to eat at get me served
promptly? What about a nap? Consider bringing a lunch from home that is
low fat, low sugar, and low calorie (I know – that food doesn't taste
good) and then taking a short rest. You will be more alert and turn out
more work in the afternoon hours if you use the lunch hour as
6. Overcome Procrastination. Procrastination is a thief. It robs you
of achievement and production. Take the task you have been
procrastinating and break it down into instant start-up tasks that can
be done in about 5 minutes. Give yourself a definite time of day to sit
down and work on the task. Once you are in your chair with the task in
front of you and you have complete a 5-minute instant start-up task, you
are on your way and as you become focused on the task, you will probably
be unaware you have spent the last two hours on the project.
7. Close Out the Day. It may sound weird, but nothing is more
important for your daily productivity tomorrow than closing out today.
Check off completed items, make note of where to start on 1/2-finished
projects, decide what will get your attention first when you walk in the
office tomorrow morning, and clean off your desk, re-filing folders and
returning e-mail and phone messages.
To facilitate your ability to deal with stressors, I have created a
longer version of this article, 15 Sizzling Solutions to Predictable
Stressors, in addition to a graph for you to visually record the time of
day and the stressor associated with it. Go to
read the suggestions, download the blank table, and for the next five
days, record your actual stressors and time management goof-ups then
actively look for solutions to each stressor or time management
After five days of this exercise, you should have a pretty good idea
of how to cope with what bugs you, eats up your time, makes you lose
your cool, and sends you over the edge. Only then can you quiet the time
and stress management sibling squabbles.
Karla Brandau, CSP, is an expert in change, leadership and team
building in the flat world. She offers keynotes and workshops to move
your organization forward. Sign up for her monthly newsletter, From the
Desk of Karla Brandau and download free articles by going to
Contact Karla at 770-923-0883 for a free consultation or to check the
availability of dates to bring Karla to your organization.