Do You Manage Your Time Well?
Good time management and realistic goal setting can be two keys to better mental health
April 23, 2022
Time management sounds so adult. But the reality is that in today’s society, being busy can be seen as a badge of honor, and too many of us place value on cramming “just one more thing” into our already jam-packed schedules.
How often have you or someone in your life uttered the phrase “there isn’t enough time in the day”?
That should tell you something.
While it may sometimes be said in jest, too often we are failing to balance the stressful elements of our lives with things that are more mundane or simple—like packing a lunch, washing the dishes, or going for a walk. For many of us, these things can wait until later, but before you know it, the sun has set, it’s time for bed, and the cycle of being busy continues.
While it may feel good to be busy—and, in many cases, needed—too much can lead to serious physical and mental health concerns.
Pros & Cons of Staying Busy
According to Caitlin Nevins, PhD, director of psychological services at McLean’s College Mental Health Program, “Too much busyness can be emotionally taxing. We may be too busy to attend to our needs, including our basic needs, like eating, sleeping, and social connection.”
Being busy can also lead to physical and emotional burnout, making us less effective in the tasks we are trying to achieve.
There is a common belief that staying busy will keep difficult emotions at bay or at least tamp them down.
Constant busyness or distraction doesn’t necessarily mean we aren’t still experiencing difficult emotions beneath the surface.
When we coat sadness, anger, or loss with a layer of productivity, we aren’t able to process such feelings as effectively as when we face them directly.
Many of us are struggling, but why and how much eludes us. Are you busy, are you not managing your time well—or is it some of both?
“I work in a high-paced environment where I look at my colleagues and think, well if they are constantly on the go, I should be able to keep up,” said Fiona Mulligan, a 43-year-old health care administrator.
“The pace that I have created at work follows me home, so I honestly feel like I no longer know how to have downtime. I feel like I need to constantly produce and that one more email or one more phone call won’t hurt.”
According to Mulligan, her inability to create time for herself and the simple things has led to poor sleep habits, putting off or missing appointments to see her friends, and de-prioritizing the things she needs to stay healthy.
Productivity can be highly connected to our self-worth. “We tend to value those days when we get a lot done,” Nevins said. “A sense of mastery and accomplishment is good for our mood.”
However, time management is crucial to making sure that we maintain physical and mental health—as well as still feeling productive.