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Techniques for stress management

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By Akintola Benson-Oke

THE observed myths are as follows: The Lagos State Ministry of Establishments, Training, and Pensions (“MET&P”) has since discovered that effectiveness in the Lagos State Civil Service goes far beyond the acquisition of knowledge and job-related skills.

Supported by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, the MET&P has, in addition to trainings aimed at increasing knowledge and on-the-job skills, created a number of workshops and training programmes aimed at helping civil servants in Lagos State live well-rounded lives and cope with a number of factors that are often over-looked in the quest for organisational efficiency.

Two of such factors are time management and stress management. In today’s 24-hour, round-the-clock work engagement culture, there is a critical need to help officers of the Lagos State Civil Service learn the mechanisms for coping with the demands on the management of time and the consequential stress.

In an article on the subject,[1]  Carter McNamara listed seven myths associated with stress.

Myth 1: All stress is bad. No, there’s good and bad stress. Good stress is excitement, thrills, etc. The goal is to recognize personal signs of bad stress and to deal with them.

Myth 2: Planning my time just takes more time. Actually, research shows the opposite.

Myth 3: I get more done in more time when I wisely use caffeine, sugar, alcohol or nicotine. Wrong! Research shows that the body always has to “come down” and when it does, you can’t always be very effective than after the boost.

Myth 4: A time management problem means that there’s not enough time to get done what needs to get done. No, a time management problem is not using your time to your fullest advantage, to get done what you want done.

Myth 5: The busier I am, the better I’m using my time. Look out! You may only be doing what’s urgent, and not what’s important.

Myth 6: I feel very harried, busy, so I must have a time management problem. Not necessarily. You should verify that you have a time management problem. This requires knowing what you really want to get done and if it is getting done or not.

Myth 7: I feel OK, so I must not be stressed. In reality, many adults don’t even know when they’re really stressed out until their bodies tell them so. They miss the early warning signs from their body, for example, headaches, still backs, twitches, etc.

In another article on this subject, it was noted that,  “it is important to recognise the common causes of stress at work so that you can take steps to reduce stress levels where possible. Workplace stress can be caused by a number of factors from heavy workloads and over-promotion to bullying and blame culture.”

MISSED  DEADLINES. Not being able to complete your tasks on time is one of the most glaring signs of poor time management. Although it’s not uncommon for people to occasionally miss deadlines (after all, emergencies and mistakes do happen), if you find that it becomes a regular occurrence, your time management skills definitely need improvement. Sometimes you may not even realise you’re whiling away your time rather than doing the work you’re supposed to do. This, as well as procrastinating until the last minute, are also very common signs of poor time management.

DIFFICULTY  IN CONCENTRATING. When you’re swamped with work and have very little time left to do it, you’re bound to become distracted. Even though you’re in a hurry to get everything done as quickly as possible, you’ll inevitably end up wasting your time thinking of how you’re going to finish everything on time instead of focusing on the task ahead of you. Unfortunately, this will only make things worse. However, if you have good time management skills, you won’t reach this stage. Since you won’t have a backlog of work waiting to be completed, you’ll be able to focus and finish your tasks in a timely manner without becoming distracted.

STRESS AND  ANXIETY. It’s quite common for people to feel helpless and stressed when they’re pressed for time. In situations like this, most people panic and start to feel like they just don’t have enough hours in the day to get the work done – which would only add to their stress. Unfortunately, this is another classic sign of ineffective time management skills. Instead of focusing on how much work you have left to do, always try to focus on the task ahead. This will help you keep the stress at bay and allow you to get things done much more effectively.

*Benson Oke is Commissioner for Establishment, Training and Pensions, Lagos State.

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