Time management tips can help you weather crises when things fall apart. Using your time wisely can literally become a lifesaver. Not only can it help you perform essential tasks; it also provides you with essential breathing space to get your bearings and safeguard your health.
1. First, attend only to immediate responsibilities. You may find that you initially shut down emotionally; this helps you remain in coping mode long enough to attend to current demands. Allow this protective shield to remain in force until you can take time for yourself. Your time frame will focus on your immediate situation, which is appropriate. Only deal with the present necessities, and let the big picture emerge before committing yourself further.
2. Release emotions in a safe setting. Once you have some breathing space, step back. Find a safe space, either by yourself or with trusted friends or a guide, and give yourself time to let out your feelings about whatever has occurred. You’ll notice I didn’t say “explore” but “let out.” You will be able to take time to explore after your situation has stabilized. In the heat of the moment, however, it is important to just “take the top off”.
Discharging tension through venting, writing (but not sending) letters that express your intense emotions, journaling, and physical activity can help you clear your mind, so that distortions don’t muddy later plans.
3. Sort things out. Sudden change is very disorienting. Because your landscape has changed dramatically, it may take time for you to fully grasp what lies within your control, and what must simply unfold. This is no small task! You may have trouble reaching a consensus with others about what can and what should be done. Simply do your best. Try to leave space for your understanding to evolve, so that you don’t become locked into a course of action prematurely.
Consider creating a double column list. In column #1, list what lies within your control. This may include, for example, buying healthy food, developing new work skills, and journaling, In the second, list what must simply unfold, like the weather. On the next page, break the tasks in the first column into action steps.
For column #2, list ways you can take care of yourself and loved ones as your new landscape takes shape. Although you may have little to no power over what appears in your second column, a positive attitude will help you discern your new paths of opportunity.
4. Put something in. The more you can support yourself, the less tempted you will be to make choices out of a sense of urgency. Schedule time just for yourself. As your stress abates, your mind will clear. Take special care of your health, and note your feelings in a journal.
Writing uses a part of the brain that is especially helpful for sorting things through. Furthermore, you can refer back to your notes later, to create a broader overview of this tumultuous period.
5. Cultivate gratitude. In the midst of turmoil and unexpected change, there are always things to be grateful for. It is vital to keep them in mind as touchstones. Reflecting on things you are grateful for forms a nourishing base of sustenance and positive energy. Furthermore, experiencing gratitude grounds you where your actual power lies, right here in the present moment.
Progress is seldom linear. Give yourself permission to return to each step as often as needed, compassionately and patiently. By alternating between pragmatism and self-care, you will eventually emerge with a clearer perspective, enhanced resilience and appreciation for your own abilities.
How can you make the most of your time?© Copyright 2009 Paula Eder, Ph.D.