Written by Dovid Green

With the recent Labor Day holiday as the unofficial closing of the summer season, we say goodbye to vacations, camp, and trips and welcome the fall season. And with that beautiful changing foliage comes the return to work and school. Though we often return from the summer refreshed and relaxed, going back to that everyday work mode can bring anxieties back from their own vacation as well. Tasks that need to be completed begin coming to our desks, and assignments from bosses and teachers alike start to fill up our work hours.

So how do we manage those to-do lists and the anxiety that naturally comes with deadlines and due dates? By being SMART about our work! These simple and effective tips are adapted from Peter Drucker and George Doran.

Specific – Try to identify a specific area or task to accomplish. Take cleaning the house as a good example. Looking at the entire picture can be overwhelming! Identify specific tasks to complete, like starting with a closet or organizing a desk, to help identify goals and make them more manageable.

Measureable – Make sure the task at hand can be measured for success. Don’t just say “do a better job,” or “until I’ve finished” as these goals can be undefined, and tough to achieve. As with the house-cleaning example, try identifying targets and realistic goals, with even basic estimates like writing a rough draft or finish cleaning one room, which have definite end points.

Assignable – Be sure to choose who will work on the task at hand. Identifying a task but not figuring out the “who’s” and the “how’s” can certainly add anxiety.

Realistic – Be honest with yourself and the resources at hand as to what can be achieved. Rome wasn’t built in a day! Identify goals that are within reach and go after them with the excitement of knowing you realistically can accomplish the task.

Time – related – Make sure that your work is connected with a time period. Instead of trying to finish a job, why not try working for 30 minutes, and evaluate your progress after those times.

Going back to work or school and getting into the swing of deadlines and due dates can feel overwhelming at times, but by playing it SMART and being proactive about managing our work, we can handle each situation with success. And we can do it without anxiety!

Keywords: Managing Anxiety, Time management, Stress coping skills, work stress.

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The Center for Anxiety™ is a Limited Liability Company (LLC) that is owned and operated by David H. Rosmarin, Ph.D. The Center provides consultation in psychological research by designing, implementing and examining results from research protocols to help facilitate evaluation of treatment outcomes, and training for mental health professionals in evidence-based treatments for anxiety symptoms. All clinical services described on this website are provided by NYC Psychology Inc., a Professional Corporation (PC) that is also owned and operated by David H. Rosmarin, Ph.D.; Usage & Privacy Policy