Are there never enough hours in a day? Does your day-to-day existence feel like a race against the clock?
If you're trying to fit too much into the day, there are ways to make life a little easier on yourself. This isn’t about achieving less; the trick is learning how to do less. But it’s not easy. “Plan each day, with time for work and other tasks, and time for relaxation,” advises mental health charity Mind. “Making time for leisure, exercise and holidays is just as essential as spending time on business or home worries.”
If you need to take stock and regain control, here are seven expert pointers that could help you make the change.
Manage Your Time
“Identify your best time of day,” <a href="http://www.mind.org.uk/">advises Mind</a>. Some of us are morning people, some of us are evening people so it’s important to capitalise on the time when your energy and concentration is at its peak when you’re planning to tackle the most important tasks. Also prioritise you list and focus on the most urgent jobs first. This will also help you get a sense of perspective. Will the world crumble if you don’t have time to hand-sculpt a 3D birthday cake in the shape of a Peppa Pig? Probably not.
According to Mind, a common problem is that when we’re feeling overwhelmed, we try to take on too much in one – and consequently achieve very little. “Try not to do too many things at once,” <a href="http://www.mind.org.uk/">the charity suggests</a>. “You could try to start something else if you have to wait for the next stage in a previous task, but if you have too many things going on at the same time, you will start to make mistakes.”
Think Quality – Not Quantity
Working smarter means prioritising your workload and concentrating on the tasks that will make a real difference. “Leave the least important tasks to last,” <a href="http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/Pages/reduce-stress.aspx">says Professor Cooper, an occupational health expert at the University of Lancaster.</a> “Accept that your in-tray will always be full. Don’t expect it to be empty at the end of the day.”
Don’t Feel Guilty
The fact that you’re attempting to juggle family and work life can be a source of stress in itself. Being a parent, managing a job, maintaining a home and having some sort of social life for yourself means that there are never enough hours in the day. Remember “there are no 'right' or 'wrong' choices, and your choices will change at different stages in your family’s life,” says parenting advice service <a href="http://familylives.org.uk/advice/balancing-work-and-home">Family Lives</a>.
Talking through your concerns with colleagues, friends and family can ease your worries and help you see things more clearly. “If you don’t connect with people, you won’t have support to turn to when you need help,” says <a href="http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/Pages/reduce-stress.aspx">Professor Cooper. </a>
Get Better At Delegating At Home, And At Work
“Give children [above the age of eight] sole responsibility for their chores so that they have a sense of ownership and build up their confidence. Realising that they ‘must’ complete their own chores will also help their self-discipline”, advises family support organisation <a href="http://familylives.org.uk/advice/balancing-work-and-home">Family Lives</a>. It's also important not to fall into the trap of thinking that you’re the only one who can do a job well at work. “When you don't delegate you risk ending up with too much work, not enough time, and lots of undue stress,” says career-building advisor <a href="http://www.mindtools.com/index.html">Mindtools</a>. “The belief that you can do it better and faster with fewer mistakes leads to a vicious cycle of too little time and too much to do.”
“Self belief is so important to your happiness; without it you’re vulnerable to the stresses and strains that we all face,” says relationship and parenting expert <a href="http://www.drpam.co.uk/">Dr Pam Spurr</a>. Don’t become a slave to a gruelling routine. “Have the strength to allow your brain to overrule their heart; this takes the emotional sting out of the situation and allows you to approach it rationally”, advises Spurr. “Break the solution into manageable steps so that they aren’t overwhelmed by one seemingly impossible goal.”