How to Relieve Stress By Being Time-Efficient

By: Suzanne Feinstein, PhD

Do you find yourself stretched between too many tasks and work deadlines? An increasing number of people are reporting difficulty maintaining focus at work (68%). About 73% say they feel significant levels of stress from the amount of daily tasks they are expected to complete.

Developing time management skills can help relieve your work stress. Read on for the tips you need to become more time-efficient.

Plan Ahead

To better manage your time, grab a calendar and start using it! Whether it’s virtual or physical, a calendar will help you track your schedule. Write down your:

  • Work Commitments
  • Classes/Training/Personal Developement Time
  • Meetings
  • Appointments
  • Short (Daily or Weekly) and Long-term Goals (Monthly or Longer)

Develop a habit of writing down all of your to-dos in one place. Writing it all down will ensure better task execution. You can use sticky notes on a board, to-do lists, or task apps.

Find the method that works best for you and that is the easiest and most enjoyable for you to maintain.

The process of writing down tasks, deadlines, appointments, goals, and all the time-consuming parts of your day will help you to recognize where you might be overcommitted and allow you better visualize your priorities.

Write down deadlines and due dates first, then work backwards to determine when you need to get started on each task. You can schedule time to focus on individual tasks or group similar tasks together to remain organized and efficient.

It’s okay if everything doesn’t go according to plan. That’s life! Plan time for unforeseen disputions, delays, or extra tasks so that you give yourself a little wiggle room to allow for flexibility. If something unexpected comes up, you’ll have space for it in your schedule.

Planning ahead can help you feel more in control of the situation, which can help minimize future work stress.


Once you draft your to-do list, start prioritizing.

Prioritizing will help you determine where to spend the bulk of your time and energy. Determine what needs to be done immediately versus what can wait. Remember to leave extra time in your day or week for the unexpected.

You might need to re-prioritize if new, more urgent tasks pop up.

When determining your priorities, group your to-do list into three categories:

  • Urgent
  • Important
  • Low important

Urgent tasks include anything that needs to be done right away to avoid a potential problem. Don’t wait until an important task becomes urgent to get it done. Otherwise, you’ll only add to your work stress.

Important tasks can help you avoid a potential problem in the future. Low priority tasks don’t need to be done right away.

Understanding your priorities can help you set realistic goals, keep stress levels down, and realize that it’s unhealthy (if not impossible) to do everything within a set period of time.

Control Procrastination

You’re more likely to put off a task that feels stressful or unpleasant. However, this will only add to your stress. Learn how to control your procrastination with these tips.

First, remember that it’s best to get started and not worry about the initial quality of your work. You may discover new ideas or iterate an even better deliverable once you get past the feeling of temptation to procrastinate on a task.

Break large tasks into smaller blocks over the span of a few days. Completing these tasks won’t feel as unpleasant if they’re brief.

Create short-term deadlines for yourself. Deadlines can force you to focus and help you recognize the progress you’ve made.

Also, try to avoid perfectionism. Instead, give each task your best effort.

Cut Out Distractions

About 98% of the workforce is interrupted at least three or four times a day. Distractions can cause twice as many errors as usual, affecting work quality. On average, it may take you more than 23 minutes to fully recover your focus after you’re distracted.

Common distractions include:

  • Co-workers
  • Poorly run meetings
  • Hunger
  • Multitasking
  • Stress and anxiety
  • A cluttered workspace
  • Smartphones
  • Sending/receiving emails
  • Social media

Consider disabling notifications that aren’t business related. Texts, social media notifications, and calls can steal time from your schedule.

You can also seek to change your environment if your workspace is becoming a distraction.

Look for ways to actively combat distractions. For example, you can wear headphones if you work in a loud cubicle space. Otherwise, talk to your manager to implement policies and training to minimize distractions.

Say No

Don’t overcommit. It’s okay to say no if you’re already juggling multiple deadlines.

Before accepting a new time commitment, determine if it aligns with your goals and schedule. Accepting too many tasks can add to your work stress and induce feelings of mental exhaustion.

Saying “no” doesn’t mean you’re neglecting responsibilities or being mean. It means you’re taking care of yourself. If you’re unable to say no, try saying, “Can I get back to you later” instead.

Give yourself a moment to review the pros and cons of accepting a new task.

Otherwise, consider asking for help! Turn to a manager or co-worker when your to-do list becomes too demanding.

You can also enroll in stress and time management therapy.

Get Started

Once you decide on the order of task execution, get to it! Don’t procrastinate. It will only lead to unnecessary excess stress. Instead, stick to your schedule and your plan.

Try to break time-extensive tasks down into smaller steps. Add a short break between each step to avoid getting overwhelmed.

Reward yourself for completing large, time-consuming, stressful tasks. Knowing a reward is at the end of the task can make the process more enjoyable.

Consider Self-Care

It’s more difficult to complete tasks if you’re tired and stressed. Take the time to prioritize your self-care with:

  • Breaks
  • Sleep
  • Stress-relief techniques

To relieve stress, consider journaling, practicing meditation, or picking up yoga. Explore different stress-relief techniques to determine what works for you. Therapy can be an added benefit in helping you develop the techniques you need to relieve work stress.

Don’t rely on all-nighters to complete your busy to-do list. Without sleep, you’ll struggle to focus throughout the day. Give yourself permission to re-energize and take breaks.

Aim to get seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Eat a balanced diet, stay hydrated, and exercise to boost your daily energy levels. Taking care of your body will ensure your mind is sharp and ready to take on a new day.

Become More Time-Efficient Today

Procrastinating will only add to the work stress you’re experiencing. Use these tips to become more time-efficient. With better time management skills, you can tackle your to-do list with more ease.

Remember, you don’t have to discover stress relief techniques alone. Working with a licensed psychologist could help.

Schedule a free 15-minute consultation today to learn more!

Recent Posts

Catastrophic Thinking

Catastrophic thinking, also known as catastrophizing, is a distorted thinking style in which an individual tends to automatically imagine the worst possible outcomes of a situation or event or assumes situations to be much worse than they actually are. Although...

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a type of psychotherapy that falls under the broader category of cognitive-behavioral therapies. ACT was developed by Steven C. Hayes in the late 1980s and has gained popularity as an effective approach for helping...

Scrupulosity OCD: An overview of symptoms and treatment

Scrupulosity OCD refers to a specific subtype of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) where individuals experience persistent and intrusive thoughts and compulsive behaviors that revolve around religious, moral or ethical concerns. People with this type of OCD often...

Postpartum OCD: Symptoms and Treatment

Postpartum OCD, also known as postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder or PPOCD, is a subtype of postpartum depression that affects some 3% to 5% of new mothers, and can be triggered by a sudden fluctuation of hormones, typically within the first few weeks to months...

Fear of Flying

The fear of flying, known as aviophobia or aerophobia, is a common anxiety disorder that affects many people worldwide. This fear can vary in severity, ranging from mild discomfort and anxiety to a debilitating phobia that prevents individuals from traveling by air...

How to Put Binge Eating Disorder to BED

Impulse control disorders are characterized by difficulty in resisting the temptation to engage in behaviors that are harmful to oneself or others. Binge eating behaviors can be a manifestation of such disorders. Binge eating disorder (BED) is a recognized psychiatric...

What Causes Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

For some people, anxiety crops up in response to a specific situation, like meeting a deadline or navigating a hectic roadway. This is not necessarily a cause of concern as it does not result in interference with everyday functioning or a significant decrease in one's...

Emetophobia: A Specific Phobia Based Around Vomit

Emetophobia, the fear of vomiting, is a specific phobia affecting an estimated 3.1% to 8.8% of the population, according to the National Institutes of Health. This specific phobia can have a profound impact on an individual's life. It can lead to constant anxiety and...

How Cognitive Therapy Can Help You Manage Trichotillomania

When we talk about identifying anxiety and the need for treatment, we tend to focus on symptoms of generalized anxiety. These can include things like irritability, nervousness, difficulty breathing, and more. What if your anxiety is masked by one persistent behavior?...

Can’t make up your mind? You may have Decidophobia.

It is common for people to feel anxiety around making certain decisions, especially if these are high stakes decisions or they have made poor decisions in the past. In fact, a certain amount of anxiety around decision-making is healthy and can save us from acting on...

Are You Ready To Transform Your Life?

Schedule a free 15-minute consultation