Stress is inevitable at just about every job. Sometimes it is a particular project, a task that has to get done, a looming deadline or even just the technology that you are using. Stress can eventually hinder your productivity, so you want to nip it in the bud whenever possible.
We talked to some members of the Forbes Coaches Council to ask them how they manage stress. The ideas varied a lot, but they mostly focused on mindfulness, task-oriented solutions and adjustments to mindset. Try some of these tips the next time you are feeling stressed and unfocused at work. You may be able to get back to your work quicker and with a clearer head.
1. Pause, Process, Proceed
Set aside time in your day to handle phone calls, texts and email. If necessary, use auto-reply and voicemail In between work on the functional aspects of your role. When stressed, apply this strategy: Pause, breathe and ask yourself, “What is happening now to generate these feelings?” Process possible solutions to pull yourself together, then proceed with what needs to be done. – Grace Totoro, TransitionsByGrace. LLC
2. Do The Hardest Things First
At work, it seems nothing creates more of an anvil on you than putting off a big project. It helps to tackle a portion of a harder project before doing the more common work that needs to be done. When you put off a larger project like a talk, a written piece or a looming project deadline, it weighs on you and makes you less productive on the more normal, basic, but still important tasks. – John M. O’Connor, Career Pro Inc.
3. Make A List
The best solution for being productive and alleviating stress is to make a list of things that need to be completed each day. If it is a big project, be sure to break the deliverables down into manageable pieces. It also might make sense to complete a few of the easy things early to feel more accomplished. Another solution is to keep a calendar and backfill the tasks from today until the project is actually due, filling in a timeline of when each step should be completed so that the final piece is completed on-time. Remember is always best to underpromise and overdeliver. – Kathleen Houlihan, Dream2Career
4. Turn Off Alerts
One of the best productivity tips I recommend and implement, which also reduces stress, is to turn off the notifications on your mobile phone for at least two hours during the workday. Set hours each day when you can work undisturbed without those annoying beeps or buzzes letting you know that you have another voicemail, email or “like” on the cat video you shared last night on Facebook. In our efforts to automate most of our administrative lives, we’ve come to rely on notifications and alerts for everything. Turn them off for a couple of hours each day and eliminate the stressful distractions. – Trellis Usher, T.R. Ellis Group LLC
5. Pick Three Essential Things
Essentialism by Greg McKeown is one of the tools I give to all my clients. Pick three essential things you must get done that day and focus your energy there. You’ll soon realize your long list of to-dos get done much quicker and with more efficiency. Say goodbye to overwhelm. – MJ Impastato, H2H Systems
6. Plan Your Day Around Your Productive Times
Some of us are night owls. Others are early birds. Regardless of what your schedule looks like, you need to own it and plan your day to accommodate your energy levels. For the times of day when you are most productive, schedule your most important meetings and projects. Then, for your less productive times, focus on administrative tasks that need to be tended to but require less brain power. – Kyle Elliott, MPA, CHES, Kyle Elliott Consulting (CaffeinatedKyle.com)
7. Spend An Hour On Each Project
Instead of only tackling your biggest project, set a timer and work on it for an hour. Turn off all distractions. Then, take a break and transition to another project. Set that same timer for 60 minutes and take another break. If 60 minutes is too long for you, then cut it to 30 or 40 minutes. The point is that you will make progress on every project, reduce stress and feel productive. – Meghan Godorov, Meghan Godorov Consulting, LLC
8. Set People Up For Success
If you want people to be productive, set them up for success. People are not afraid of hard work; they are afraid of failure. If they can’t see how they will succeed, productivity will go out of the window. A simple approach is to ask them if they have everything they need to be successful. Just asking this question helps. If they say yes, they have taken ownership; if they say no, give them what they need. Having everything you need to be successful is a great way of relieving stress and increasing productivity. – Gordon Tredgold, Leadership Principles LLC
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9. Put It On Your Calendar
Your calendar should be the guiding force in your work. If you have everything, including personal time, in your calendar, you use your calendar to tell you what you should be doing and when you should be doing it, and manage that with integrity, you will not stress. For example, have a list of what you know you need to do this week. Sit down on Monday and get it scheduled. If there are emergencies that come up, move the flexible items but complete them this week. Your calendar becomes your best friend when you learn how to use it and manage it with integrity. – Janet Zaretsky, Janet Zaretsky
10. Give Your Employees More Autonomy
To increase productivity and reduce stress, give employees a flexible schedule. As long as employees do their work, they should be given autonomy. People are more productive and out sick less often when they feel trusted and respected. – Beth Kuhel, Get Hired, LLC
11. Manage Your Internet Time
By nature, humans are curious. And the internet is the biggest curiosity out there. I employ software on my PC that tracks the sites I go to, and then I can determine a website as distracting, productive or neutral. I then set a limit for 15 minutes maximum of distracting site access over a 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. period. This way, I am sure to keep myself out of the internet matrix and focused on the tasks at hand. It regulates me; it’s my own censor. Freeing up time that I would burn through otherwise allows me to get tasks done and reduce the overall stress and anxiety of work. – Tyron Giuliani, Selling Made Social
12. Align With Your Values
Make sure an activity you do is aligned with your top five values or priorities. If it’s not, ask yourself why you are doing it. Maybe you’ll still do it, but it needs to be modified to honor your values. When your activities are aligned with your values, you can feel assured that you’re going to achieve your deepest desires. Then, put time on your calendar for each activity to confirm they will get done. – Rosie Guagliardo, InnerBrilliance Coaching