“A generic concept reflecting concern with the modification and enhancement of life attributes, e.g., physical, political, moral and social environment; the overall condition of a human life.”
I gave a few tips about assessing your current quality of life when it comes to the life attributes of your physical, moral and social environment. But I intentionally did not address your political environment because it would double the length of the article. I promised to cover that topic in my next blog post, so here we are.
I have been in business long enough to have experienced three presidential elections in the United States. Politics can get ugly, and the last presidential election was exactly that – and then some. And the ugliness has continued, so much so that I end up addressing it in many client sessions.
My typical time management sessions cover work challenges, personal challenges or work-life balance challenges. Even with clients who engaged in very personal conversations with me, politics and politicians never came up in conversation.
That all changed in 2016. Since that summer during the campaign, I’ve had to spend part of the session addressing the stress related to politics, politicians and the media. At first it was just one client. But then it was another and another until it was becoming more of the norm rather than the exception.
Once this became a trend in my sessions, I went back to my notes from previous sessions and began studying current sessions. I was looking for patterns. Why was this happening?
Here’s what I discovered:
*Stress levels had a direct correlation to the amount of time spent watching television news shows or listening to talk shows or scrolling through social media.
*Their stress was caused by their anger about what was being opined on the shows or posted in social media.
*Their stress was causing mind fog, which lowered their productivity.
Once I understood this, we drilled down into ways to prevent this stress from occurring.
Step 1 – Limit your television, radio and social media time.
If you ever utter the words, “I don’t have enough time,” but you watch more than an hour of television a day or spend more than 30 minutes per day on social media (and it’s not part of your job), you might want to reassess how you use your time. If you choose to partake in social media, consider going directly to the profile pages of “known” non-inflammatory posters instead of scrolling through the main feed and seeing all of the hate that’s posted.
Step 2 – Digest only the facts.
It’s the rhetoric and the guessing and the prognosticating that are inflaming the stress levels, so it’s important to stick to the facts. But facts are pretty tough to find nowadays. I had one of my clients watch 10 minutes of a “left” cable news show and 10 minutes of a “right” cable news show with me and asked her to pick out every true, proven fact that was shared. There weren’t any. It was 10 minutes of people debating about hearsay. I could see her body language tense up as each minute ticked by. We figured out which part of the shows actually shared facts – complete minute-long soundbites instead of 10 seconds, multiple unedited sentences of documents instead of phrases picked out and strung together by ellipses – so that she’d know what part of the show to watch. And skip the rest. Watch or listen to the factual news, not the commentary.
Step 3 – Decide what you have control over – and control it.
Isn’t it sad that it took the death of our late President George Herbert Walker Bush to stop the posturing and bickering for about a day and a half? We can’t control other people’s emotions and reactions in the current political climate, but we can control our responses. Is there a stranger nearby harping about politics? You don’t know that person – which makes it a bit precarious to approach them and engage them in conversation when they’re already upset – so I’d recommend controlling your situation by removing yourself from that location. But what if it’s a friend? How would you like to respond? In a calm demeanor using facts and unbiased language in order to have an intelligent discussion? Or would you prefer to ask them to refrain from discussing politics at this moment? My “cable news” client who I mentioned above has the opposite opinions from mine when it comes to immigration and welfare. And yet we’ve never fought. We’ve had some extremely enlightening discussions that have shed light on what information each of us has used to form our opinions. We have agreed to disagree, yet we still totally respect each other because we stuck to the facts and left emotional words out of it.
I preach my productivity philosophy that time management is all about mind management. Therefore, anything that affects what’s going on in your brain will affect your productivity. Your “physical, political, moral and social environment” affect how you feel and, therefore, how you think. So, if your current conditions aren’t in alignment with your desired quality of life, your mind will feel bogged down – and your productivity will be lowered.
Think about where your politically- and politician-related stress comes from and decide what you’ll do to prevent it. Your brain will thank you by tossing those lower productivity levels aside and getting back into gear.