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Eddie Chandler
You're disorganized

You may be frustrated because you can't find certain things. If your friends complain that you're forgetful, that could be both a symptom and a cause of stress.

How to correct this bad habit:

Make notes: Write things down. Make lists of people you need to call or things you need to buy. Record important birthdays in your PDA and your friends will be impressed at how thoughtful you are to remember. It will give your spirits a lift to know you are more organized and less forgetful. This will help you deal with things once, by doing them right the first time around.

Avoid clutter: Tidy your home, your desk and your car so you can find things easily and avoid unnecessary anxiety and aggravation. Sort your e-mail into folders at home and work and file important papers when you receive them -- or shred them. Don't let them accumulate on your desk. Throw out clothing, household goods and other items you don't use. Don't be a packrat: toss anything that you haven't used in more than a year. Keep things in logical places. Reduce your stress levels by eliminating the mad chase for your car keys, cell phone or shoes by always putting them in the same place. Ensure you have good storage systems (folders, shelves, hooks, and cabinets) and use them.

How will this reduce stress?

Being organizationally impaired creates unnecessary anxiety by wasting your time. You can worry yourself sick when you're concerned that you've forgotten something important or that someone will ask you for something you cannot find. Taking charge of your belongings creates calmness from chaos.

You're controlling

If you generally want to be in complete control of everything, or you find yourself taking on an extra (and unnecessary) burden of responsibility, you may have developed a stressful bad habit.

How to correct this bad habit:

Lighten up: Try to understand your perfectionist tendencies and ease up on them. What's the worst that will happen if someone else organizes your buddy's stag party or leads a work project instead of you? Being in charge all the time can add stress by consuming your time, thoughts and energy, so, unless it's absolutely essential to your career or an interpersonal relationships, try playing a supporting role for a change.

Delegate tasks: Learn to separate yourself from tasks, and shake the idea that everything should fall under your purview. If your buddy Charlie agrees to man the barbecue, sit down and visit with other friends and resist the temptation to supervise. It's not a reflection on you if the burgers are burned so relinquish the responsibility, relax and enjoy yourself. Learn to let go.

How will this reduce stress?

You can eliminate many work and personal stresses by ridding yourself of the habit of always assuming the role of hands-on leader. Focus on controlling your stress, not extraneous events and the actions of others, and you will find that life is much smoother and your attitude much more easy-going. And when you do choose to accept a leadership role, you'll enjoy the challenges and rewards more.

You're often late

You're always in a rush. It seems like you're late more often than not and you arrive stressed and uptight. If you find yourself apologizing regularly for your tardiness, perhaps it's time to become more realistic about time.

How to correct this bad habit:

Plan ahead: Schedule ample time to get from one meeting to another, or to get from dinner to the movie theater on time. Record your appointments 15 to 30 minutes earlier than their scheduled time in your PDA or agenda. Always assume that things will take longer. You never know when traffic problems or last-minute phone calls might detain you so build in extra time, and alleviate your stress.

Trick yourself: Set your watch ahead a few minutes. It sounds ridiculous but it can actually work. You look at your watch and see 10:00. In the split second it takes for your brain to register that it's only 9:45, you've focused on the importance of the time and are less likely to be late. As time passes, however, this trick will lose its potency, and you'll need to resort to other tools.

How will this reduce stress?

If you are perennially late, you probably expend a lot of energy apologizing, calling ahead to explain and trying to make excuses for your lateness. Recognize how much physical energy you waste rushing and how much emotional energy you squander justifying your tardiness. You'll see it's worth the effort to be on time or even early, for the peace of mind and stress relief it brings. Focus on honoring your commitments. And bring a book or newspaper -- it may take a while before your friends realize that you're finally serious about showing up on time.

Eddie Chandler

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