Stress has always been a part of our lives. Fifty years ago, without the Internet or mobile phones, people were able to disconnect from the details of their friends’ and families’ lives when they went home. They would have to wait until the next time they saw someone, or talked, to find out what had happened in their life.
Many people today long for a time when they can disconnect from the day’s events, limit the demands placed on them, or just relax. We have constant pressure to get more done. With each new technology, our lives get simultaneously easier and more complicated. Technology keeps us connected with more people more often and this connection has a price. We have added emails, tweets, and social media feeds etc. We multitask to try to stay ahead of these demands. The problem with multitasking is that switching between tasks makes us less efficient overall and begins to tire us out. Even when we are getting more done, the quality of the work is often poorer.
Recently, I have been working with employees stretching across the generations from graduates eager to take on the new challenges a new job entails to senior board members scarred by years of corporate life. Both demographic groups employ many different strategies to manage their busy work schedules and the stress that comes with this. After talking with many of them, I often discuss the following possibilities to help stay balanced:
Start by listing what you are responsible for doing each day. Once you have the list, look at which things bring you joy and which things drain you. Are you out of balance, what can you do to ensure you can maximise those things that bring you joy?
Begin to prioritize the responsibilities that you have. This can include daily, weekly, or monthly responsibilities. Consider limiting from the responsibilities that are lower priorities. President Eisenhower called this his ‘Urgent versus Important’ and was very adept at prioritising. It may be difficult to say: “I can’t do that any longer,” but if you can’t set limits, your life will continue to feel out of control.
Figure out what you can add to your schedule that qualifies as self-care: any activity that rejuvenates or builds you up. Examples might include a walk in the park, joining a sports club, reading, or sitting on the porch and enjoying the sunset.
Do something every day for yourself.
Change is difficult; even getting started can be difficult. Experiences define us though, and life is about the lessons and what is taken away from each experience. The goal here is to gain a better understanding of your strengths and limitations, which can assist you in developing a life plan that makes you feel more content instead of overwhelmed and longing.