A recent study conducted by the American Psychological Association found that 75 percent of adults have experienced moderate to high levels of stress in the previous month. Almost half of the group reported that their stress had increased in the previous year. Unfortunately, only half of the participants said they were doing enough to manage their stress.

Does that sound like you?

It is acknowledged that the high unemployment rate has caused difficulties for many individuals and families. It certainly has created more stress for individuals, marriages, businesses, and schools.

Another contributing factor to the increase in peoples perception of stress is the information or cognitive overload that appears to be almost everywhere. During the day, you may find yourself struggling to balance and juggle things at the same time. Juggling requires a lot of effort and energy to keep things from crashing. In order to get balance, you may even need to drop some balls.

There is a solution to this dilemma. When you find yourself in this situation, it is the optimum time to prioritize. Imagine yourself being flooded with information and things to do. Yet, you calmly and confidently make choices about completing the things that are urgent and important. You are focused on what you are doing and efficiently moving through the items one by one. Your energy level stays steady as you complete the necessary items for the day and have time for some relaxing before the day ends.

For some people, prioritizing is a lost skill. So many things are going on in their lives it is almost automatic to respond to them in the order in which they happen. Reading email is an example. Unless you have set up a system for sorting your email, you are likely to read through the list in a top down order.

It does not have to be this way. Prioritizing can bring order and confidence to your life. Let’s look at what actually happens when you prioritize. You need to look at:

• Your values.

• Choices you have made in the past.

• What is important to you?

• Why it is important to you.

Prioritizing also involves imagining and moving around concepts which you might not have experienced. You have to understand the concepts, recall past experiences, and make a decision - a triathlon of mental tasks. All of this takes a great deal of mental energy or brain power which is why it is best to prioritize when you are refreshed and alert.

While this may sound like a lot of work, the payoff for you is worth it. Here are some tips to make it easy for you to start practicing prioritizing:

1. Your choices need to reflect your core values.

2. Have standards and set boundaries – taking breaks, how long you will work, etc.

3. Prioritize as early in the day as possible or the night before if you are refreshed.

4. Write down and circle (on paper or a white board) the main and more urgent projects for the day.

5. Look at each circle to find patterns, the hardest item, or other criteria.

6. Know what is most important and why.

7. Look at the outcome you desire – what you really want.

8. Can something be delegated?

9. Simplify by saying “No” to excess.

10. Set your priorities for the day.

It is important to write down your main projects because it will be easier to compare the items prior to making your decision. When you actually see the words, patterns will appear which helps clarify your priorities.

As you practice prioritizing, it will get easier to do. When you spend time in the areas that bring you the results you desire, you will find yourself enjoying more or what you do! I challenge you to develop this skill and reduce your stress.

Author's Bio: 

Maurine Patten, EdD, CMC, Achieve a Life Worth Living.
Get my free report: Unlock the Secrets to Happiness and Success in Today’s World and my bi-monthly ezine Achieve Personal & Professional Fulfillment at
http://www.pattencoaching.com or my blog at http://www.pattencoaching.com/blog/ Contact me at Mailto:mdpcoach@pattencoaching.com