Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Reduce Stress by Using Lists

Stress is a result of conflict. When faced with a struggle or decision, stress enters our lives and doesn’t leave until the conflict is resolved. Levels of stress usually get out of control when we are busy, because we consistently have too many things on our mind.

One way to lighten the burden of stress is by creating lists. Having our tasks set out and prioritized can take us out of the “constant decision-making” mode that often accompanies a busy lifestyle.

Follow the steps below to create lists that will reduce stress.

1) In point form, write down all the things you would like to get done. Make it a comprehensive list. Include personal and professional items, both short-term and long term.
2) Once the list is complete, prioritize the items. Put the most crucial and time-sensitive tasks near the top, and work your way down.
3) Take a realistic number of tasks from the list, and make that your daily goal. Set aside the rest of the list to be dealt with later.
4) Check off items on your list as they are completed, and add new ones in the prioritized list as they come up.
5) Long-term goals may be broken up into smaller sections.

Here is an example list (probably much shorter than your daily list would be) :

• Finish report for client
• Pay electricity and cable bills
• Complete the first two sections of the budget proposal
• Take the kids to the park for 45 minutes
• Buy flowers for my wife on the way home from work
• Change the light bulbs in the basement washroom
• Tidy the shed

When you write down your jobs for the day, they no longer have to dwell in your mind. A prioritized list reduces the need for constant decision making throughout the day, and provides a sense of accomplishment as items are checked-off the list. Most importantly, you will feel more at ease, knowing that important tasks won’t be forgotten or put-off, but completed in an orderly and timely fashion.

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