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November 14, 2007 > Take Control of Your Time

Take Control of Your Time

Women's Midlife Transitions Meeting Focuses on Time Management Skills

Between work and personal obligations, does it feel as though you're being squeezed from both ends? Are you tired of feeling like you can't fit in the activities you want to do? Would you like to accomplish more during the day?
To learn how to manage your time better and find out how to fit in the activities you want into your hectic daily life, join Washington Women's Center Coordinator Kathy Hesser for the latest Midlife Transitions meeting, which will take place Tuesday, Nov. 20 at the Washington Women's Center (2500 Mowry Avenue).
"For women in that mid-generation they have so many responsibilities - they might still be raising children, caring for older family members, as well as working - so carving out time just for themselves becomes something that they don't do and not having time for yourself can lead to stress and frustration," Hesser says. "Time management can be really important to leading a healthier and less stressful life."
One of the first steps participants will take during the meeting, Hesser says, is to determine their priorities. They will analyze what needs to be accomplished in a given day, week or month and how can they can squeeze in their extracurricular activities, such as hobbies, visiting with friends or exercise.
"By sitting down and assessing what your basic day looks like throughout the week you can determine what your critical responsibilities are," she says. "Then we'll ask questions like 'Are their any chores or responsibilities that could be shared or delegated to other family members?' At that point, we'll look at how to fit some of the things that participants used to do and still want to do with any free time they have."
After helping participants assess where their time is going during the week, Hesser will talk in detail about using time management skills to reduce stress, as well as how to incorporate time for things they enjoy doing that no longer seem to fit into their busy schedules.
Steps to better manage time spent during the day may include taking as little as 10 minutes at the end of the day to organize, regroup and plan ahead - or perhaps picking 10-minute increments to fit in various activities throughout the day.
The meeting will be interactive, and participants will make use of several tools, including handouts, to identify their priorities and responsibilities.
On top of helping women feel more in control of their daily lives, time management skills also have a profound impact on health, Hesser says.
"When you feel like things are out of control, your blood pressure goes up and your ego may suffer because you think 'Why can't I get all this done?' But sometimes by taking a full assessment of all the things you do, you realize you didn't have all these responsibilities at age 25," she explains. "Still, it can be difficult for us to delegate, and we tend to take everything on ourselves. But often you find that you can reduce stress and be a better person by delegating and managing your time more efficiently."
The skills to effectively manage your time don't come automatically, according to Hesser, who says it takes work for most people to learn the steps necessary to best manage their time. She says the effort is worth the gains.
"Time management actually just takes planning," Hesser explains. "And sometimes it just requires breaking larger jobs into smaller ones."
At some time or another, each of us has thought, "How can I possibly get everything done?" The truth is that trying to get everything done at once is not only ineffective, according to Hesser, but also leads to frustration and burnout. Breaking down large projects and goals into smaller ones makes them more manageable by making them more attainable.
An easy way to access more time during the week to do the things you want, she says, is to look critically at meal planning. Hesser recommends getting creative. For instance, on a Sunday, invite your significant other to help you dice and prepare ingredients for meals later in the week. By finishing the preparation early, it gives you more wiggle room during the week to do other activities. Or if you miss spending some quality time with friends, then multi-task by visiting a local meal preparation business like Super Suppers with friends. That way you can all get ahead on the week's dinners while spending time together, Hesser notes.
Making time for everything and everyone can be especially hectic as the holidays approach, bringing with them a busier schedule. With the greater demands that come with the holidays - including gift shopping, holiday meals and trips to see relatives - Hesser says this is the perfect time to put newly acquired time management skills to the test.
"Time management is actually a healthy thing for you," Hesser says. "When you think about time management, you don't usually think 'Hey, that's good for my health!', but it's true."
Learn how to manage your time
The next Midlife Transitions meeting focusing on time management skills will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 20. Please reserve your space by calling Kathy Hesser at (510) 608-1356. Midlife Transitions meetings are free to attend.
For more information about programs and services at the Washington Women's Center, call (866) 608-1301 or (510) 608-1356 or visit www.whhs.com, click on "Services & Programs" and select "Women's Health" from the drop-down menu.

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