Top Tips for Time Management

Touro Expert Offers Ways to Create Structure, Reduce Stress and Increase Productivity

April 21, 2020
Manage your time, reduce your stress
Manage your time, reduce your stress

As the weeks stretch on and employees and families are tasked with working, parenting and running a home all at the same time, many are experiencing stress and anxiety. Without commuting to the office, the line between work and home is getting blurred. Work hours can stretch long beyond what is normal and home responsibilities and relationships are hard to manage when all members of a household are trying to live, work and go to school under the same roof, 24/7.

Dr. Faye Walkenfeld, psychologist and Chair of the Mental Health Counseling Program at Touro College, says it’s important to accept that we are living in a different reality right now and to adjust our expectations of ourselves and our families. Accepting what we cannot change and what we have no control over will improve our mental health and reduce anxiety. Our time, however, is something we can control, and we should work on managing it to impose structure in our day. This will result in less stress while increasing successful functioning.

Here are top time management tips from Dr. Walkenfeld:

  1. Create a structure for your day. Decide when your workday begins and ends and when you will stop and take a break for coffee, lunch with family members, etc… and stick with it. Your structure should include plans with timelines for everything on your to-do list. Whether it’s related to work or home, if you don’t designate a specific day and time to do it, it won’t happen. Leave some time every day to get out for a walk and talk to your kids. Decide in the beginning of each day what time that will be. Otherwise, the day can run away and you may be holed up in your home office without getting the exercise you need or connecting with those you love.
  2. Set breaks between zoom meetings or videoconferences --just because we all have the ability to go from meeting to meeting with no time needed in between for travel or walking to another office or building does not mean that we should do this. Our brains and bodies need a break and we should impose at least a 10-minute break between these online meetings.
  3. Make a schedule for device use. If you’re in a household where two parents are working and a number of children are zooming into class, figure out the hours when devices are needed and create a schedule that works for all. It’s important to show the children that you value their time and their online classes and that their efforts and success are also a priority for you.
  4. Create a system for sharing household responsibilities. Since most people don’t have household help due to virus health concerns, the family needs to pick up the slack. At the beginning of the week, write up a master list of all the chores that need to be done (laundry, meal preparation, cooking, shopping, cleaning) and let each family member select what they would like to do. Once a job has been selected, let each family member know when it’s expected to be completed and try to give positive reinforcement for jobs well done.
  5. Build skills that your family members might not otherwise learn. If your children are doing chores for the first time, teach them how to do them correctly. Make these “lessons” relaxed (to where are we rushing?) and expect them to need some reminders before getting the job done “right”.
  6. Prioritize –when making your daily or weekly schedule, don’t put down a whole laundry list of items. Analyze the tasks, decide what’s most important and what must happen today and prioritize accordingly. At the end of the day, redo the schedule and see how much time you allotted and whether it worked. Notice what took longer and adjust the next day’s schedule accordingly. If something important didn’t get done, move it to the top of tomorrow’s list.
  7. Include something fun or interesting in the schedule. If you’ve wanted to practice piano more, see if you can use some of the time you would have spent commuting doing that. Order books you’ve been meaning to read and set aside some time before bedtime for pleasure reading. If you wanted to design photo books of your last trip or work on planning the next vacation, carve out time to do that. Activities that are unrelated to the coronavirus can be uplifting and stress-relieving.

Use these tips to manage your time since it’s one thing you still have control over, in a world that is filled with uncertainty. If the schedule or the need to learn new hobbies is making you stressed out, however, give yourself a break. Acknowledge that we are all under stress – people we know are sick and dying and that can make us feel sad and depressed. Do the activities that make you happy and that feel realistic to achieve at this time.

Learn more about becoming a mental health counselor.