Productive Leaders

Ph.D., CSP, CDR, US Navy Ret.,
CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame

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How Time, or the Lack of Time, Creates Stress

How many times do you say “I just don’t have enough time?” Do you ever feel overwhelmed because of lack of time? Do you ever have so many things to do running around in your head that you cannot focus? Me too. What happens when we feel we have too much to do?  Some people actually experience a sense of panic. When we waste time that we don’t have, we often feel annoyed or guilty with ourselves for not getting tasks accomplished. When other people waste our time (or we feel others waste our time, such as holding needless meetings, repetitive paperwork, or unnecessary processes) we may become frustrated and impatient. When we want to give more of our time to others and we cannot, (such as wanting to go to family events on weekends or enjoying leisure time with friends) we grow concerned and worried that we are failing those closest to us. How can we combat the stress of the constant lack of time and use the time we have efficiently?

  1. Say ‘no’ to requests that are not important.
  2. Try to limit interruptions.  I know people who wear headphones at work so that others will only interrupt them if it is important.
  3. Plan to do the most demanding and important tasks when you are at your best.  Set realistic deadlines for tasks.  People work to deadlines because deadlines give us focus.  We cannot do everything all at once, so a deadline forces us to prioritize on that particular item.
  4. Specialize on what you do best and get help on work that you don’t do well.
  5. Schedule uninterrupted time to finish those little jobs that add up otherwise.
  6. As Kelli Vrla says, “Give up being a perfection-ista.”  ( Being perfect all the time is stressful.  Focus on being successful, not on being perfect.  You’ll get more accomplished and reduce your stress levels.


  1. Patty Farmer

    I hear this from my clients all the time. I really like the list of tips to help especially #3. Thank you.
    Patty Farmer

  2. Brittany

    Mary, I really like this article, and will use a lot of these tips to help me in my daily working. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Shirley Taylor

    Panic, guilt, frustration… no wonder stress is at an all time high around the globe. Thank you, Mary, for these great suggestions on how to use what little time we seem to have more efficiently. They make me want to step back, take a deep breath and think about how I can de-stress my life.

  4. Sandi Coryell

    In corporate America, this seems to be the mantra almost every day. I think the one that hit me as one of the biggest culprits of high achievers is not wanting to ask for help on things that aren’t their strengths. I fall into that trap sometimes and after wasting way too much time, usually ask for help in the long run anyway.
    Great advice!

  5. Candace

    I absolutely hear you about not having enough time or just always being insanely busy. I used to be the type to take on way too much and it left me exhausted and basically useless. For instance there was a time that I would take on 50 projects on my own and make sure that I would have them all complete in a short week (I do create internet marketing products). By the end of that week I accomplished very little and was exhausted, frustrated and just simply burned out. Not to mention I was very irritable. I realized then it was time that I set more realistic goals to not only complete 1/5 of that, but to outsource what needed to be outsourced such as creating graphics and logos which I struggled enough to do. There are places where you can do that inexpensively. Anyway, I feel much better by cutting myself slack for not being a super human lol. No seriously. I took way too much onto myself and it just created more harm than good. Time management is so essential.

  6. Alicia

    It is a much busier world now than it ever has been. What really bugs me with so many business owners is that a lot of them don’t like to outsource and end up taking on extra burdens themselves because they either don’t want to spend the money or are afraid to pass on work to someone else. However, no one is going to produce anything well if you don’t have any time to yourself and if you are overloaded. People need R&R and those who are wrapped up in the corporate world especially have a hard time accepting that. They would be far more productive and less stressed if they did.

  7. Amy

    As a business owner I have learned that outsourcing is an absolute must. Charge a little more but don’t skimp either because your quality will be on the line if you do not delegate (not to mention so will your sanity).

  8. Renee

    The first thing I was told before starting up my business was to prepare for the day that I would get so busy that I would need to outsource the things that I simply won’t have time to do. At first when you are starting out, you have more time but once the business rolls in, you have to outsource because if you are working every night til 2am and you need to start working again at 6am, how good will your work be? How good will you be dealing with clients who may be demanding at times. I just know if I got 4 hours of sleep I would be in no shape to deal with that. Outsourcing will save you and your business.


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