Stress Management and Pain

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Managing Stress and Pain

If there’s one thing that I know about fairly well, it’s stress. It impacts my whole life, both physically and mentally, and can put me on a path to ruin quite quickly. With a two-month-old baby in the house, a three-year-old boy and the burden of being the breadwinner on my shoulders, things can get a little tense. When I get stressed, my body can’t cope and I find myself getting more backaches, headaches and the like. It’s a nightmare.

My solution to sorting through the madness is to be organized, and to that end I’ve regularly kept a to-do list handy. I personally use Omnifocus, a product made by The Omni Group for the iPhone, iPad and Mac. Since I always have one of those three options handy, it’s a pretty good tool to organize my life.

The only real problem with that system is that it details everything that I have to do, blocked down into blocks of time and so on. For example, take this blog post. I don’t just have to write it, I also have to copy edit the text and publish it on the blog — that’s three tasks. When I want a view that’s a bit more general, I go to the latest tool in my arsenal, a Word Notebook.

The concept with these books is fairly simple. You have a pocket-sized, lined notebook that has light circles and dots across the left-hand side of the page. You list your tasks on the lines, and then place a circle or dot next to the task to set its priority. The system looks like this:

use-guide

At $9.99 for three books, I figured it was a good deal. Since I’m a big fan of Moleskine notebooks (every writer loves them), it seemed like a natural fit. When they came in the mail, it took me a few days to figure out exactly how well they’d fit into my workflow, but now I can’t imagine living without them.

Every night, just before I shut down the computer and call it a night, I pull out my notebook and write down the main things that I have to do for the following day. These are top-down views; a way for me to look at the day as a whole, without getting into the minutiae of the process. It could look like this:

  • Write blog posts
  • Edit document for Frank
  • Return Netflix DVD
  • Buy groceries
  • Clear out email

While my OmniFocus list for the day may look mammoth in comparison, this makes it quick and simple. I now have a list of the major hurdles that I have to cross for the day, and that along makes it easier for me to get things done. And the more I check off, the better I feel. it’s handy.

Sometimes, managing stress puts my gut in a mind. But now that I’m using these notebooks, things have changed for the better. In fact, I just ordered new ones last night.

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Kevin Whipps is a writer and editor based in Scottsdale, Ariz., whose work has appeared in multiple magazines, websites and publications. When Kevin isn’t working, he enjoys spending time with his family, including his son, Kevin Jr. and daughter, Kaylee. His hobbies include working on custom cars and taking in the occasional baseball game. He’s also working on a mystery novel, as well as a book about freelance writing.

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