07 Dec 2017

Using the Calendar to Reduce Stress

proprioception. (prō’prē-ō-sěp’shən)

noun, Physiology.

The unconscious perception of movement and spatial orientation arising from stimuli within the body itself.

We have an innate need to know where we are in relation to objects around us. “Proprioception” is the sense we have of how far our knee is from the edge of the desk, and how close behind us someone is passing in a crowded store.

Lacking this information, we’ll unconsciously reach out with a hand to see where the desk is. We’ll pause in the store. When we’re lost on a hike we start walking faster, eager to restore our sense of where we stand.

It’s not just spacial; some people think social media is addictive because it reassures a nascent sense of social proprioception.

I think we have a similar need to know where we stand in time: a temporal proprioception. And when we don’t know where we stand, we start to get stressed. I think everyone can relate to the stress around not knowing if you have enough time to finish a project. Or worse: not really knowing when a project is due in the first place. We may be worried about the consequences of not having the project done, or there may be no consequences, but it looks like not knowing where you stand is stressful in itself, consequences aside.

Stress is the achiever word for fear.  – Tony Robbins

Putting things on the calendar is one path away from stress. The calendar is a map of time. And events are your waypoints. I’d like to suggest two strategies for using your calendar as a way to keep the uncertainty at bay.

Promises: anything you promise to a customer or a colleague should go on your team’s shared calendar. Anything from when a document is to be delivered, to when you said you’d email a customer back. Your calendar event is like a little contract between two people.

Blocking off time: if you need to do something outside of your routine duties, you should likely block off time for it on your private calendar. This is the first step to defending your time.

If you don’t put things on your calendar, your mind is going to spend a considerable amount of time trying to keep its own calendar up to date in your head. Click To Tweet

Keeping a calendar in your head: that is stress. Your mind will do this unless you reassure it–unless you satisfy its temporal proprioception.

Some hikers look at the map all the time. Some just need to know they have one.

But the map is essential.

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