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How Planning Your Day Can Help Minimize Stress

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Daily planner at HOD

Various levels of stress are just part of everyday life, especially if we are juggling the demands of both personal and professional responsibilities. A little stress is not necessarily a bad thing; it can keep us on track and accountable. But as obligations pile up, their associated stress can become overwhelming and reduce productivity. 

One of the more important lessons the last few years have shown us is that it is okay to do a reset on priorities in order to manage stress and ensure that our time management skills keep us on a balanced trajectory. There is no better course of action than to maximize a daily planner as the best tool to minimize stress.    

Going Old School in the Digital Age 

So many of us have adopted a seemingly endless supply of digital tools and gadgets to communicate, create, and manage every aspect of our daily lives. It is hard to imagine not relying on computers, smartphones, meeting platforms, and various apps to navigate important dates and events as well as home and work responsibilities. But as helpful as they are, their convenience may become a hindrance if jumping from one device to another adds to our stress level. 

Daily planners and desk pad calendars are most certainly not relics from the past. In fact, they remain in high demand even for those people who seem attached to their devices. Paper planners and office wall calendars rate high for functionality as well as keeping their users visually connected to their tasks.  

It would never be suggested or even recommended to choose digital over paper and vice versa. They can be equally helpful on the same playing field to reinforce what we have to remember and accomplish as we try to reduce the pressure of our busy schedules.  

Planning Your Day 101 

There are probably a few folks out there who do not think they need to be told that planning your daily schedule is a good idea. These same people may also have too many spinning plates and do not have their tasks under control. When navigating hectic schedules that can change on a dime, any one of us can miss appointments or not meet a deadline. Often, if a bit more focus was placed on organizing and adhering to a schedule, many of us may not have to succumb to the stress associated with an out-of-control schedule. 

Take a minute to note recurring meetings and tasks. Even the most common obligations may feel burned into our memories, but sometimes those are the ones that can be missed because we have become too used to them. A few steps to get your calendar in order will help your stress levels drop to reasonable levels.  

• Write in your daily planner all the daily, weekly, and monthly meetings that are always in the books.

• Add recurring tasks like sales goals, expense reports, and monthly projections.

• Note additional work items like occasional meetings, conferences, or out of town travel

• Include deadlines for projects and other special items

Any busy professional will soon find their calendar filling up and that is a good thing because knowing what is on the horizon allows for planning without frantic questions or worries. 

But do not forget to add your personal entries to round out what your days, weeks, and months look like. Some important things to remember: 

• Birthdays and anniversaries

• Weddings, showers, and graduations

• Holidays

• Planned vacations and out of town trips

• Doctor and dentist appointments

• Home and car maintenance

• School and extracurricular dates, events, and meetings

Down Time 

Yes, down time. We all want it, and we most assuredly need it. Do you see blocks of time in your daily planner that are free of any obligations? 

A few words of advice- leave them blank! Or call them “scheduled downtime” and follow them to the letter. These few paragraphs have been intended to relay several effective best practice recommendations to get your schedule under control so you can reduce stress by knowing exactly when and where you are supposed to be.  

Allow yourself the grace to do nothing or do something that takes you away from all those day-to-day commitments. Your daily planner or wall calendar are worthy tools to organize your valuable time, but it is also important to sometimes include nothing at all so we can rest and recharge our tired and very human batteries.  

We have an old year winding down and a new year brimming with potential. Take the time to get your schedule humming along at peak performance so that when January arrives you are ready to tackle your personal and professional life head-on. What best practices do you use to accomplish your goals and minimize the stress that we all can experience daily? Do you color code items in your calendar or categorize them by importance? Whatever your method, using a daily planner is an effective first step in staying organized, never missing an important date, and keeping stress at bay.