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Time management - Coping with stress



Coping with stress

General

The ability to cope with stress will depend upon the amount of stress received against the level of your own energy to counteract it.
We have seen that stress comes in several guises as ‘not controllable’, ‘controllable’, ‘external’ and ‘internal’.

Personality driver

We have already seen that the personality driver can be a source of stress. However, the positive strengths of these drivers can help when trying to counteract stressful situations.
You can not change your basic personality. The key is to recognise the outcomes of your own personality.
This requires being very honest with yourself when assessing your own position. If you spot certain characteristics resulting from your personality driver then you can consciously plan to do something about them. This was discussed earlier.
The personality driver is the hardest to do anything about.

Experience

The past is a good teacher. Depending on the level of stress in the past may govern your perception of it now and in the future.
If you did a particularly stressful task or had a highly stressful event in the past a similar one now may be much easier to tolerate.
Other events may pale into insignificance.
Also, if you only experience a certain stressful episode spasmodically it may be harder to deal with than if you experience it regularly.
This is because you will know what to expect and can thus prepare for it better.
It is important to learn from past experiences.
You can simulate experiences by specific training programmes.

Techniques

The sum of the stress you will experience is contained in ‘controllable’ and ‘not controllable’ events, see ‘stress sources’.
The total methods available to you are:

  • Modification of the outcomes of your personality driver.
  • Use of experience.
  • Time Management techniques.

The last is the easiest to put into place and will give you the quickest benefit.
The techniques are those given in this training package.

If the total of your coping techniques outweigh the incoming stress then you will be OK.

Modification of your personality driver output is the hardest to maintain as you need to make a conscious effort to change some of your natural responses.
In theory, experience will not change as it has already ‘passed’. This is not strictly true as it is the lessons learned from those experiences that are important.
It may be that some of those passed experiences need better review in order to extract the maximum amount of useful information.

Each person’s personality is different and so is their ability to cope with stress.
Hence, the amount of implementation of techniques from the 3 areas above will be different for each person.

If your stress level is severely imbalanced it can lead to a vicious downward spiral as excessive stress will create more stress.
Extra drinking, less sleep etc only makes the situation worse. You may be in a position where you will find it very hard to even start to repair the situation.
If this is the case, you will need to confide in someone who can help you with the necessary techniques until you are in a position to do it all yourself.

Stress tends to increase from the moment you wake up. It peaks during work hours and begins to drop off until you are asleep.
The aim is to have your peak stress levels the same as those required for maximum working efficiency or lower when considering your quality of life.

If you work outside of a stress level band you will either be inefficient when over stressed or bored and under used if below a critical level.

The amount of stress you wish to accept will depend upon your balance of work versus quality of life.
You may decide to accept a higher level of stress over a short period which will hopefully lead to a better quality of life in the future.
These decisions will be related to your goals.

For example, if you are on holiday you might have delegated well, or organised things well with your assistant so that you are not disturbed.

Ideas

  • Reduce your activities.
  • Avoid stressful situations or people.
  • Delegate more and control by monitoring.
  • Don’t take work home.
  • Create goals, focus on them.
  • Don’t look for perfection.
  • Plan more and keep lists of things to do and what’s happening tomorrow.
  • Practice your assertiveness skills and the art of saying, ‘No’.
  • Get on with jobs don’t let them slide.
  • Avoid interruptions.
  • Maintain your desktop in a tidy state.
  • Create some space with a 1 hour quiet time.
  • Improve your diet, sleep patterns and take some exercise. All of which will improve your fitness and well being.
  • Take up a sport either to release stress (physical) or to help you relax more (painting or fishing).
  • Take steps to improve your quality of life goals.
  • Seek extra training and read about particular subjects that will help you towards your goals.
  • Look to the present and the future and not the past.
  • Be positive don’t dwell on failures, learn from them and move on. Promote successes.

Once you have listed a number of stress sources, say 5, you can then plan to try to overcome them.

By using these techniques you will be much better organised. One of the key things to do is to ‘write things down’.

  • Large lists of things to do.
  • Lists of jobs for the next day.
  • Keep a note pad for new ideas and things to do.
  • Appointments and actions in your diary.

Writing things down will substitute for an excellent memory. You don’t need a good memory just the discipline to write it down.

Non - PRINCE2 information