Maintaining a healthy balance between the things we have to do and the things we want to do is often a goal we overlook in the interest of getting things done at work and being successful. However, ensuring that you make time to do the things you enjoy can be an important step toward being more successful at work, and to lowering stress and avoiding procrastination. The activity below, included in Richard L. Daft and Dorothy Marcic’s Building Management Skills: An Action First Approach, First Edition can help you reflect on where you’re spending your time, and how you might shift your schedule to minimize stress levels and become less likely to procrastinate. 

Step 1: Your relationship to the activities in your life can be a major factor in your level of stress or procrastination. Think of all the activities you do in a typical week. Fill out Columns A and B in the table below, noting which ones you NEED to do to survive (such as work, pay bills), which ones you SHOULD do (obligations such as attending an event or calling your parents), the ones you LIKE to do (perhaps playing tennis or spending time with friends), and the ones you LOVE to do (maybe a hobby or reading a favorite book).

Step 2: The more time you spend on NEEDs and SHOULDs, the more you will have to force yourself to do things, the more stressed out you will feel, and the more likely you are to procrastinate. If you have a greater percentage of your time spent on LIKEs and LOVEs, you will be more energized and productive. It isn’t possible to eliminate all NEEDs and SHOULDs. But think about how you can reduce, by 5 to 10 percent, your NEEDs and SHOULDs, and increase by 5 to 10 percent your LIKEs and LOVEs. At the least, try to shift one hour per week from NEEDs and SHOULDs to activities in the LIKEs and LOVEs categories.

Step 3: Fill out Column C above, indicating the changes you plan to make.

Step 4: How does finding meaning in what you do reduce the stress level and procrastination in your life?

Step 5 (Optional): Share your insights with a partner, and ask your partner what insights he or she gained. (pp. 140-141)

Reference: Daft, Richard L. and Marcic, Dorothy. 2014. Building Management Skills, First Edition. Mason, OH: South-Western, Cengage Learning.

For a sneak peek at some of the innovative, decision-making-focused Manager Challenge Videos created to accompany the text, visit our YouTube page!

Share some of your ideas in the comments section below about how you minimize stress and avoid procrastination by examining how you’re spending your time.