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Take Control To Help Reduce Your Stress Levels

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Emails and DM’s requiring instant response. Projects constantly changing. Contactable hours creeping into weekends.
A large part of our work day can be spent on unplanned work which means constant low level stress over the important tasks sitting endlessly on a to-do list. Here’s why taking control of your working day will help you to keep those stress levels in hand.

Stress Epidemic

The working world can be both frustrating and stressful. And once that stress kicks in it can be hard to think straight. Hard to make the right decisions and hard to be strategic.

Too often we try to reduce the stress by working longer hours. But of course, in the long run that’s bad for us and bad for our business too.

So what is actually going on? Why are so many business professionals feeling this stress? And why is the problem getting bigger as our technology gets smarter?

 

The Way We Work Has Changed

The way we work has changed radically in recent years. But the problem is that few of us have adjusted the way we approach work to reflect this. Here are just some of the modern ways of working that are contributing to stress levels:

  • Constant stream of requests on multiple devices
  • Instant communication has created an expectation of instant response
  • Our contactable hours are longer
  • We have decreased downtime to refresh and reset
  • All notifications disrupt us to the same extent
  • Our mobile devices are used in both work and personal lives

We need additional skills to deal with our changed world. And we need to strategically adjust the way we approach the working week.

 

Who hasn’t done a quick email check and spent an hour or two longer than planned?

 

Changing Our Approach To Work

Most people in business apply good time management skills such as planning, scheduling and creating task lists. But these skills were designed for a simpler 9 to 5 working day. A time when we left our work behind us and refreshed when we went home. We read books or newspapers on our commute and the only technology in our bedroom was an alarm clock!

Nowadays, because of the constant flow of new work, and requests throughout the day, we need to be able to: 1) constantly reassess priorities, 2) stay focussed on planned work and 3) say no to less important work.

 

Decision Management

To reassess priorities quickly, use this simple question: “If I say yes to this new request what tasks am I saying no to”?

In a split second you clarify what work is not going to get done if you take on an unplanned task.

But to make the correct decisions you first need to do a bit of background thinking and planning about the overall goals for your business. Then set weekly goals so you have ongoing clarity about your priorities. Then your daily and hourly decisions about what to prioritise will be well informed.

 

If you are spending too long on tasks, try using a timer to limit yourself and give yourself a chance to move on.

 

Attention Management

It can be hard to stay tuned in throughout the day to constantly keep track of where your time is going. This is because we often react to new requests without thinking of the time implications, or we can spend too long on a planned task.

Who hasn’t done a quick email check and spent an hour or two longer than planned? The work you do might be important but it may not be the most important thing at that moment in time.

To counteract this, use frequent checkpoints. Assess your progress as you move from one task to another. Ask yourself:

  • Am I still on track?
  • If not, why not?
  • What (or who) distracted me?
  • How can I stop this happening again?

If you are spending too long on tasks, try using a timer to limit yourself and give yourself a chance to move on.

 

Be Proactive, Take Control.

In summary, the world we do business in has changed so we need to change the way we do business. Reduce stress by taking control:

Be clear about your priorities.

  • Re-evaluate throughout the day
  • Use your most productive time for your most important jobs
  • Say no sometimes
  • Manage your attention using checkpoints and timers
  • Manage your energy by taking breaks and refuelling

By making some simple changes you can take back control of your time. Be proactive and your work life will be less stressful and more productive.

 

About the Author

Moira Dunne runs Be Productive.ie, a Productivity Consultancy based in Dublin. With a mission to increase productivity and workplace wellness through training, coaching and seminars, Moira helps individuals & businesses get the right things done and reduce stress by being productive.

www.beproductive.ie

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