We learn a lot of things growing up and going to school; but one thing our culture doesn't really talk about is the stress we'll encounter as adults and how to manage it. There are simple hacks to make your day less stressful by helping you manage your time, get things done faster, keep tabs on your mental health, and make the day go more smoothly overall. Adults are supposed to be tough, smart, and unbreakable; but even the strongest of us can feel crushed under the weight of our responsibilities. These hacks for managing stress are simple and easy to incorporate in your everyday life; and if you commit to using them religiously, there's no doubt you'll feel an improvement not only in your daily schedule, but in your happiness as well.
Trying to change too much at once might only add to the pressure you feel everyday, and the key to setting successful goals is often to take baby steps and aim for slow and steady progress. Instead of trying to do a 180 with your schedule and behavior and change everything about who you are, try one (or more!) of these seven simple hacks to better tackle your stress.
1. Use An Online To-Do List
I'm all about to-do lists. I used to do it the old-fashioned way with pen and paper; and while I love it, it's not the most practical thing in the world. Having your to-do list on your computer or phone will make life so much easier.
Personally, I use Todoist. It lets you schedule tasks (and even set them to repeat whenever you need), it sends reminders, it lets you assign certain tasks to different teams that you can choose, and it offers about a million and one other options for customization. My day-to-day life would be a giant cluster-you-know-what without it.
2. Schedule Reminders To Take Breaks
Studies show that we're more productive when we take frequent breaks from work; but when you're overwhelmed and under pressure, it's easy to forget. Stand Up! is one such app, although there are several. You can set reminders to take a break, get up and move, drink water, etc.
3. Only Check Your Email A Few Times A Day
Research has found that constantly checking your email is bad for you, and time spent on email seriously cuts into our workday. It goes without saying that it probably only adds to our stress. I'll be the first to admit that I was addicted to email. I manage four accounts daily, and I used to keep all four open on my computer 24/7, frequently refreshing them to see if there was anything new to address.
Recently, I made a new rule for myself. I check all my email first thing in the morning, again at lunch, and once before I disconnect for the day — and that's it. Other than those three times, I close those tabs and forget it exists. I can feel the difference: I'm more focused, productive, and efficient. It's a nice break from being constantly connected, too.
Close your tabs, disable push notifications, and feel better about your day instantly.
4. Do Things In Batches
"Batch processing" is the term many of us have come to use to describe doing like things together. For instance, you might designate a half hour first thing in the morning to only manage emails. Maybe another two hours will be spent prepping your meals for the week. The reason it works so well is because when you're in your groove, you can, for instance, handle your email more quickly and efficiently when you do it all at once, compared to doing it broken up sporadically throughout the day or week, constantly switching between tasks.
It's similar to the reason why multitasking doesn't work: it's simply dividing up our attention too much. Focus on one thing at a time, and you'll get a lot done.
5. Track How You Spend Your Time
One way to make your day more manageable is to have a better understanding of where your time is going. For instance, I work in marketing, and I had no clue I was spending so much time posting on clients' Facebook pages every day. It was out of control, and I realized I needed a more efficient way to handle matters. (That was when I started doing them in batches! *wink*)
You should even do this for your social media play time. If you hop on Facebook, jot down the time and check the clock again when you finally log off. You might find that you're spending far more time on it than you initially thought.
Keeping track of your time reveals how you're balancing your day, what could be improved, and where you can pencil in breaks for "you time."
6. Make Social Media Inaccessible
Spending too much time on social media has been found to increase your risk of depression and anxiety, and it certainly doesn't help make your day better when you abuse it, considering what a time-suck it can be. While in theory, a social media detox sounds amazing, many of us don't have the willpower. So let something else force you. Sites like Cold Turkey Blocker prevent you from accessing the sites you give it. Who knows? Maybe you'll actually start to lose interest in it as a result. Bonus!
7. Prioritize Your Responsibilities
If you've got a lengthy to-do list, it's tempting to get the quick and easy things out of the way because it's so satisfying checking tasks off your lists and seeing it shrink before your very eyes. However, if these mindless tasks are so easy to do, why not save them for the end of the day when you're exhausted and your brains are fried?
You might find that the best way to prioritize your responsibilities is to put things first that are the most difficult, for whatever reason that may be. That way, if you have something urgent, time-sensitive, or something that takes a lot of concentration, it will get done first and with the care and attention it needs.