Tweaking your way to Lowered Stress


August 25, 2006   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man


I may have mentioned before that my patience level is very low and that I tend to get irritated easily. When irritated, I am simply not as productive – I don’t think anyone is.

There are certain irritants that we can control and there are others that we just need to adapt to. Last year I honed in on the different ways I drove myself crazy because those were to ones that I could personally change. During my mini-study, I quickly realized that there were several tiny things that I did to torture myself – all because of laziness.

For example:

  • Not putting my car keys in the same, secure place and letting the kids lose them.
  • Not getting the coffee maker ready for the morning auto-brew.

This laziness and procrastination provided me with immediate satisfaction because, “I can do the task later”. Right? “Sure.” However, this always caught up to me and usually at inopportune times of my day. At that point, the task itself became a nuisance or a thorn and no longer a simple task.

For me, the point of impact was undoubtedly the morning – from the time I woke up until the time I got to work. What occurred during those 90 minutes would sculpt my attitude and subsequent productivity level for the day. If there was any last minute scrambling, the day was shot.

With my impact point defined, I now had to iron out the morning kinks. The smoother the morning, the better my day. This actually became my New Year’s resolution for 2006. While my list is, well, my list, you can certainly achieve similar results by defining your impact point and eliminating things that irritate you. It’s really as simple as a little self-exploration and a few routine changes.

Here is my PM checklist that ensures I have a smooth morning. I now have it memorized but for a while, I had this list sitting on my alarm clock so I would be sure to see and complete it each night.

  • Coffee Maker set to auto-brew at 4:00 AM?
  • Wallet, Car Keys, Watch – are they all in my nightstand drawer? My gosh this one killed me. I used to throw my keys on the counter in the kitchen knowing that my kids would play with them. Then in the morning, it was a scramble to find them. In case you haven’t had the pleasure, crawling around on your hands and knees in a suit kind of sucks.
  • Alarm Clock set – AM/PM was confirmed and volume is loud. Again, kids…
  • Dishes in the dishwasher or otherwise out of sight.
  • If the car was low on gas, did you fill-up on the way home? Just get it done when it needs it instead of pushing it to the morning.
  • Do you have clean underwear and socks?
  • Is there shampoo, soap and a towel ready for the morning shower?
  • Maps printed or on cell phone for morning meetings?
  • PDA sync’d?
  • If it’s Garbage pick-up day, get it out tonight.

See that’s it. Look how obvious and simple these items are. They are so simple that I ALWAYS pushed them to the morning when my mood was being defined for the day. To be honest, 2 or 3 of things not being done in the morning was enough to really mess with my attitude. Now that I handle them at night, I have seriously noticed a remarkable decrease in my daily stress level.

Again, my little list was built for me. You will have to sit down and define your own impact point, make a list of small tweaks to get rid of your annoyances, and follow-through.

Simple right? Maybe. Let us know what kind of changes you make. I personally would love some new ideas and I am sure a few of the Dumb Little Man faithful would as well!

– Jay


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