Reduce time based stressors – time management

This week I’ve been doing a lot of ‘free time’ reading about ‘Managing Under Pressure’ (Developing Management Skills, Chapter 4).  In that chapter, the authors explain that there are 4 key sources of stress; they are:

  1. Time stressors – work overload, lack of control
  2. Situational stressors – Unfavourable working conditions, Information overload, Rapid change
  3. Encounter stressors – Role conflicts, Issue conflicts, Action conflicts
  4. Anticipatory stressors – Unpleasant expectations, Fear

It’s really quite interesting to drill down on each of those to see some of the causes – and especially to learn about the long term effects of frequent, potent levels of stress.  Thankfully there are strategies for combating stress which range from short term techniques through to longer term strategies.  With the ultimate goal being to actually eliminate stressors altogether.

One of the tools from the chapter that I found particularly interesting was the following matrix which lays out types of time based activities based on their urgency and importance:


It was quite funny actually, because as I was reading that section which, was essentially about explaining how to prioritise the things in your life so that you might reduce time based stressors, Damian Edwards was tweeting about how he was struggling for time

The essence of what the book is suggesting is that, sure you have to focus on urgent stuff, just make sure that it’s the right urgent stuff.  It’s actually the stuff in the top-right box that should be highest priority if you can manage it.  But obviously the stuff that is ‘high urgency’ gets most of our attention.  Where we can get into trouble is if we get too distracted by the stuff in the bottom-left.  The bottom-left stuff should be done on a lazy thread but can easily prevent us from getting to the stuff in the top-right – which is where we can ultimately get long term relief from implementing structural improvements!

Note: Damian ended up having to focus on the stuff in the top-left box on this occasion.

This chapter has been a thoroughly good read so far.  Hopefully the extra understanding that I’m getting about what stress is and how to deal with it effectively will go a long way in helping me to reduce and cope with stressors in my own life.


~ by D on March 12, 2008.

13 Responses to “Reduce time based stressors – time management”

  1. Actually that\’s been around a long time – it\’s talked about in Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: was thinking at one stage of building an open source bug/issue tracking system that instead of priority, would actually use this type of framework so people could prioirtise better… maybe one day when I don\’t procrastinate as much as I do right now ;)But yeah, it\’s almost worth dividing your whiteboard in quarters and when people want jobs done, to get them to place it in the quarter they think is most appropriate – it\’s a better way to get out of the unimportant, but urgent things that sap away at your time and focus on what\’s really needed.

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