For many people, September marks a return to either school or work, and exceedingly hectic schedules. The stress associated with adjusting to new and more demanding routines can impact mood, sleep and overall wellness. Whether you want to use your time more efficiently, or are conscious about preventing burnout, these 10 simple tips can help.
Set a goal
What is it you want to accomplish today? Defining that can help you stave off distractions that can easily railroad your plans. Tackle each day fiercely and with intention.
Write it down
Tracking your goals makes them real, and has been shown to work in other areas like diet and fitness planning. There are many electronic reminders you can send yourself, and various apps to keep you focused. And for tasks you still need to tackle, write them down at the end of the day so they won’t interrupt your ability to get a good night’s sleep.
Is the task at hand urgent, or is it lower on your priority list? Try to tackle important matters first as they can cause the highest levels of stress when left unattended.
Take an hour
It’s easy to get distracted with text messages and e-mails while trying to complete a task. Try to assign one full hour to completing a task with your full attention by turning off all electronic alerts.
Are you most productive in the morning, or later on in the day? Schedule your day to complete tasks – especially the most challenging ones — when you are at your peak.
Impose a deadline
Even if it’s arbitrary, it’s easier to stay motivated if you set a hard deadline to complete something.
Every minute counts
No matter who you are, or what you need to get done, we all get the same 24 hours every day. Are there things you do that waste chunks of time during the day, like mindlessly surfing the web? Even a small window of time can help you accomplish your important goals.
Don’t forget diet and exercise
There is a strong connection between mind and body, and your diet can serve as fuel to maintain energy and alertness. That means avoiding sugary and processed foods, and opting for fruits, veggies, lean proteins and whole grains instead. Regular physical activity can also boost attention, mood and overall productivity.
Being productive is great, but everyone needs a break. A short walk, calling a friend or engaging in something fun will help shake off the stress, and leave you more able to fully focus on the task that awaits you.
There is no shame in asking for help, or delegating a task that might be sucking up a lot of your time and mental energy. Reach out to friends, family or even outsource tasks, like gardening, so you can focus on the things that matter most.