How I manage stress

As a Christian, I find that prayer and trusting the Lord is ultimately my biggest stress relief. Faith is trusting that God is an active participant in my life. The other part of the human-divine equation is my responsibility.

I am a husband to an incredible wife. We were married fresh out of college in July 2001 at 22.

At 24 we were parents. At 28 I started my own graphic design and web development company, began pursuing my masters degree, and we welcomed child number two. At 30, I had employees at the company and we welcomed child number three. At 32, we had child number four, massively shifted the focus of the company, and moved to a third world country.

At 37, I began pursuing my doctorate degree. I was still running my company in the USA and working a full time job here in South Africa. It took massive discipline to manage my family, my responsibilities, and my education. During that season I developed a system of daily and weekly disciplines that have helped me manage stress.

I have a daily planner that I write in. Every Sunday I perform what I call a “mind-dump” (read about it here), where I go through this routine:

Capture

  • Get things out of my head and onto paper
  • Collect any other notes lying stray
  • Process into the right place(s)

Reflect on the last week

  • Did I get everything done?
  • If not, why not?

Review next week

  • What commitments do I have?
  • What preparation do I need to do?
  • How much (sensibly) can I do in a day?
  • Allocate things from my monthly goals/tasks into my time
  • Make sure that there is a reasonable balance between the different key areas over the week

Review the next 4 weeks

  • What events are in there (and do I need to do anything about them?)?

Review goals/projects

  • Ensure they each have clear next action points to work on (in monthly goals)
  • Edit out impossible/pointless/out of balance things
  • Add anything new that has recently come up

Action

What is the routine that helps you stay sane?

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