“If chaos is a necessary step in the organization of one’s universe,
then I was well on my way.”
― Wendelin Van Draanen, Flipped
Stress and chaos are a fact of life. A little bit is good and keeps us alert and allows us to master our challenges in life. But too much of it can destroy our mental and physical health. Our challenge is to achieve the right balance by controlling what we can and accepting the challenge of what we can’t. Let’s look at a few ways to reduce the stress and chaos in lives that are within our control.
Starting the day off right
Many of us sabotage our day by starting it with stress and chaos that is of our own making. Here are a few things that have helped me start a new day with a positive outlook and environment that sets the stage for a more productive, less stressful and a better organized day in which peace and calmness have a chance.
As it turns out, having a less stressful and chaotic day starts the night before by:
- Having the kids clothes and shoes selected and put together. Doing this eliminates the chaos created by having to put together the “just right” outfit for the day. It also helps by not having to actually find the left shoe that is mysteriously missing or discovering that Amanda’s shirt has a hole in it that needs to be repaired forcing us to find an alternative that is acceptable to Amanda.
- Having everyone’s lunch (or money for lunch) ready for when they walk out the door.
- Having all items needed for work (laptop, keys, umbrella) or school (homework) placed near the door and ready to be picked up when we leave the house.
- Getting to bed at a time that will allow us to get the amount of sleep we need to be alert and productive tomorrow.
To assure that we’re not under immediate stress in the morning, let’s get up 30 minutes earlier than we absolutely need to. This allows us to do our morning tasks under relaxed conditions and gives us time to handle any unexpected “emergency” tasks without immediately putting us in a time crunch.
If you are anything like me, an established morning routine lays the groundwork for having a less stressful and chaotic day. We don’t have to think about what we need to do — we just do it by habit. Having a routine is more energy and mental efficient and less time consuming.
For work, school or home
To make sure we aren’t running around in circles getting little accomplished, our day needs to be organized. This is best accomplished by using a daily planner that includes an appointment calendar, to-do-list, and a memo area. This daily planner can be a physical book, computer software or a phone app. It doesn’t make any difference the tool we use because the important thing is to utilize a system that will actually be used.
If we are honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that we spend far too much time just looking for things we need like a note we wrote yesterday, our keys, a book, Timmy’s homework or whatever. To reduce this loss of time and energy, we need to establish a “rule of law” that everything has its place and everything is in its place when not being used elsewhere.
Let’s de-clutter our schedules. The majority of us take on more commitments than we can reasonably handle and do well. We don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings by saying no to their request for help. Consequently, our schedules are full doing activities we don’t want to do and have no interest in. While we need to honor our current commitments, we also need to stop committing ourselves to activities that don’t bring happiness and fulfillment to our lives.
There are tasks that we hate to do but need to be done. Let’s quit procrastinating. If the task needs to be done, let’s do it and get it off our mind and schedule. The sooner we start, the sooner it’ll be done.
When we get all stressed out and overcome with chaos, let’s take a 10 – 15 minute break to just clear our heads, get a fresh outlook and relax a little bit so we can better handle what caused us to become so upset. Rarely do we make sound decisions and take appropriate actions when we are stressed.
What things do you do to overcome stress and chaos?