Stress Management Series – Section 7 – Ward Off Time Vampires
“Time vampires” are those seemingly harmless pastimes that end up sucking the life and time right out of your day. You sit down to read a few industry blogs and the next time you look up, your daughter has left for college and your son is shaving.
Not only will these black holes of time cause you stress because you’re wasting time, you will also be kicking yourself in the rear end because you’ll be filled with regrets. You’ll be wondering how you could have been so stupid to sit at the computer, reading about urban legends for the past three hours.
Here are my suggestions for avoiding the time vampires (and none of them involves garlic!):
Set a timer.
If you want to take a quick 10-minute break in the midst of an all-morning project to see what’s going on at ESPN.com, that’s fine. Grab the kitchen timer, set it for 10 minutes, and wail at the Yankees until the timer goes off. Then say goodbye to Derek Jeter and get back to work. The same goes for Facebook and Twitter. Go ahead and check in, but set your timer. It’s amazing how fast a half hour will go by when you’re enjoying yourself.
Schedule down time.
Let’s say you have to go in to have your gall bladder removed. Would you rather be operated on by the emergency room doctor who’s been on the clock for 32 hours straight, or by the one who just returned from a nice, 30-minute lunch in the doctors’ lounge? I know who I’d choose! Schedule in down-time for yourself so you can have a little non-work fun into your day. It’ll refresh you for the tasks ahead, and also make an all-evening “Hogan’s Heroes” and Haagen Dazs marathon less likely. It’s when we don’t schedule a little escape during the day that we end up crashing and burning sometime later into an unhealthy marathon of some sort.
Most of the time, it’s most efficient to focus on one thing at a time while you’re trying to be productive. But some tasks are just born for multitasking. Listen to industry-related podcasts while on the treadmill. Check your email while at your daughter’s gym class. Instead of sitting on your behind on the phone with your sister, go for a walk while you chat. Layer activities the way you try to layer profits in your business.
Write down what you do.
It’s been said that you can’t improve what you don’t measure. If you really want to reduce the number of times you check email during the day, or the amount of time you spend on Perez Hilton’s celebrity gossip site, write it down. A simple notation in your calendar is all it takes, then each day try to beat your best. While you may have some backsliding moments, over time you’ll notice a positive trajectory when you can clearly see the time you’ve wasted.
Even after you’ve reined in all your time wasters, there may be more you can do to streamline your schedule. Perhaps there are things you shouldn’t be doing at all? Let’s take a look at the ways you need to let go and start delegating tasks.
Stress Management Series
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I am also available for phone consultations with athletes around the U.S. and in-person visits with athletes in Southern California.
Jack N. Singer, Ph.D.
Certified and Licensed Sport and Clinical Psychologist
Diplomate, National Institute of Sports Professionals, Division of Psychologists
Diplomate, American Academy of Behavioral Medicine
Certified Hypnotherapist, American Academy of Clinical Hypnosis
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