Mastering time; bring balance to home, work, personal lives Published Feb. 21, 2020 By Senior Airman Stefan Alvarez 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The enlisted military occupation has been consistently ranked as one of the most stressful jobs in America with factors ranging from pay, long hours, hard deadlines, and a lot of time spent away from home and loved ones. Time management can be one of the most overlooked tools that an individual has complete control over. Neglecting to use time management properly can amount to unnecessary stressors. Stress comes in many shapes and forms, but it can be simplified into three categories: physical, environmental, and social or emotional stress. Having high levels of stress in any of these groups can significantly impact any given day. Members of the Armed Forces are held to a high standard at all times, even when off duty. At the same time, that means it’s inevitable to feel all forms of stress from the pressure of performing up to those standards. And as rank gets higher, the bar gets set even higher. Some signs to watch out for hinting at higher levels of stress are loss of interest in daily activities, increased eating and drinking, decrease of physical activity, lack of motivation to perform tasks, and trouble getting a good night’s sleep. Something as simple as preparing for the next day beforehand can save time and give a little motivational boost knowing that today’s planning ahead set tomorrow up for success. Take charge of the time. Plan ahead to maximize productivity, make to-do lists to get through each day, set up a schedule to stay on track, set alarms as reminders to do those important things, learn how to say “no” when there is too much work already, don’t be afraid to ask others for help, and most importantly make personal well-being a priority.. Making a plan and sticking to it can help keep focused on what needs to be done and what can wait. Rome wasn’t built in one day, and it’s unreasonable to finish a weeks’ worth of work in one day. Creating a to-do list can be both motivational and uplifting. Starting the day with 10 items on a list and seeing them all crossed off at the end can feel good and give a sense of accomplishment. There’s a reason why highly productive people have a schedule. It’s very easy to forget appointments or become overbooked. Having a schedule helps make sure that things are happening when they are supposed to, giving peace of mind that the day is flowing smoothly. Alarms shouldn’t be exclusively used to wake up in the morning. Set an alarm as a reminder to take breaks. Studies show that taking occasional breaks will actually improve productivity and help to come back and tackle things with a clear mind. An overwhelming workload is the easiest way to spike stress levels. Know what is reasonable and when to say no to things that aren’t a priority. Taking on more tasks when there are enough already will only take away time that could be spent taking care of personal things or relaxing at home. Asking others for help is not a sign of weakness. The military, as well as many other occupations, is largely successful because they help each other and work as a team. Accomplishments and failures both are shared collectively. The single most important thing that should always be taken care of is the body. Sometimes situations will present themselves when personal care gets pushed aside for to finish extra assignments or meet deadlines, which can to be detrimental in the long run. Getting enough sleep, eating enough healthy food, getting enough physical and mental activity, and self-care should all be a priority whenever possible. Last but certainly not least, laughter is necessary. Laughter is the best medicine and having a good laugh not only improves the overall mood, but helps connect people. Spend time surrounded by people who are motivating and want to be successful who do so with a smile on their face. The clocks are all counting down, and once time comes and goes there’s no way to get it back. Time doesn’t have to be an enemy, because it can be an invaluable asset if it’s used to its full potential.