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Last Updated on December 18, 2020

How to Cope with Stress When You’re Overwhelmed by Responsibilities

How to Cope with Stress When You’re Overwhelmed by Responsibilities

Between excelling at work, juggling domestic duties and managing relationships – life can get extremely stressful. Whether you are struggling with projects at work or a single mother balancing home and work, there is no denying that responsibilities and expectations are weighing you down, leaving you stressed.

Think about it – when did life stop being fun and exciting, when did it turn into a relentless race that just leaves you exhausted and whatever you do just does not seem to be enough? It is natural to get so engrossed in our daily duties that we don’t realize when we succumb to existential chaos and take our health for granted.

Understand that there will be things that won’t be in your control, what can be controlled are your thoughts, and you must know that nothing in this world is worth stressing over. If you are someone who cannot stop worrying and are always anxious – it’s time to shift focus and work on improving your mental health.

Here are 14 practical ways on how to cope with stress and not let it take over your life:

1. Stay Organized

It’s a typical day for you, nothing short of a marathon wherein you are buried under work. And before you know it, the day is over, you go to bed tired and the next morning, the entire drill starts all over again. If this resonates with you, it helps to get organized and keep a to-do list.

Whether it’s jotting tasks down on your phone or keeping a notebook – it helps to give yourself tasks for the day, prioritize well and tick them off as you complete them. Sometimes, when our thoughts are all over the place, just seeing them written down is a great start too.

Having a to-do list helps you keep track and maintain realistic goals for yourself. Take life one day at a time and you are sure to cope with stress better.

2. Overcome Perfectionism

You need everything to be perfect and won’t settle for anything less? While this is great for your ‘image’ and gets you appreciation, do you realize that it is hugely self-destructive as well?

Perfectionism leads to high levels of stress. In your quest for flawlessness, you end up obsessing over the smallest slip-ups which leaves you frustrated and unhappy. Get this — no one is perfect so stop trying to get there.

Focus on doing your best, quit being overly self-critical and learn from your mistakes. Free yourself from the unrealistic standards you set for yourself and you will be surprised to see how liberating that feels.

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3. Resolve Conflicts

A lot of times stress arises due to conflicts with a co-worker, friend or partner. The best way to cope with stress of this kind is to confront the person in question and resolve the conflict by effective communication.

Many people make the mistake of running away from confrontation and live with the tension which just leads to the build-up of stress. So, the next time you get into a heated argument with your partner or are facing issues with your manager – make it a point to talk things out and resolve it instead of harboring negative emotions.

4. Delegate Smartly

You are not superman or superwoman – you cannot possibly try to do everything and be everywhere. What you should do when you have a lot on your plate is delegate effectively to save yourself from undue stress.

Delegation is a skill – you need to assess the task, choose the right person for the job, set expectations and follow up after.

You might put it off thinking it is a lot of work or you may be more comfortable micro-managing but there is only so much you can do in a day so why not get someone else on-board and make life easier?

5. Learn to Say No

Everyone wants to be liked and please people, but what happens when your inability to say no adds to your stress?

Whether it’s your boss bombarding you with unreasonable work or your child’s school committee asking you to volunteer in an event – it is okay to say no if you are grappling with too much.

Saying no does not make you a bad worker, parent or friend. It ensures you spend your time doing what is important and urgent instead of making commitments you would regret later.

Leo Babauta has some unique advice on the gentle art of saying no.

6. Avoid Procrastinating

How many times have you put work off till you couldn’t anymore and suffered a mini panic attack in the end?

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Procrastination isn’t healthy and leads to stress that can clearly be avoided in the first place. When you have immense work, break it down into smaller tasks, set timelines and get done with it.

Eliminate distractions, take breaks if required and reward yourself for motivation but avoid getting stuck in the vicious cycle of procrastinating.

Lifehack’s CEO has created a guide on beating procrastination:

What Is Procrastination (And the Complete Guide to Stop Procrastinating)

7. Enjoy ‘Me’ Time

When was the last time you treated yourself to a relaxing spa or went shopping with your friends?

Yes, you have responsibilities and lots to achieve in life but sometimes, all you need to do is sit back, relax and live in the moment.

However busy you are, make it a point to take some time out for yourself. Do things that relieve you off the stress – it can be something as simple as reading a book or listening to soothing music at the end of a busy day.

Rejuvenation is important as it helps clear your mind and promotes healthy living. So, pamper yourself silly once in a while because you deserve it.

8. Eat Healthy

Everyone reacts to stress differently – while some end up binging, there are others who lose their appetite instead. Either way, these extreme reactions to stress are extremely unhealthy.

One of the best ways to cope with stress is to just eat healthy. Have a balanced diet and include food items that are likely to combat stress levels.

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Instead of turning to aerated drinks, pizzas and cheesecakes thinking they will make you feel better, opt for healthier comfort food options such as dark chocolate, oatmeal or a healthy salmon burger to de-stress.

9. Get Enough Sleep

We often take our sleep for granted without realizing that being well-rested and getting a good night’s sleep can do wonders to our productivity and mood.

Getting at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night is vital. But what do you do when you find yourself tossing and turning in bed, thanks to your anxieties and busy mind?

Practice relaxing techniques such as reading a book or taking long deep breaths before bedtime and try going to bed at the same time every night. These small changes can help you get a good night’s sleep, so you can wake up refreshed.

10. Meditate Regularly

Meditation is all about focusing on the present moment and embracing a calm, peaceful state of mind. This relaxation technique lets you shift focus from your worries and anxieties and attain inner peace.

Find a quiet place at home and start by devoting 15-20 minutes of your day to meditation. With regular practice, you are bound to see a transformation in your concentration levels and the way you approach life, in general.

You may want to try this 5-minute Guide to Meditation: Anywhere, Anytime.

11. Indulge in a Hobby

We all had hobbies growing up but very of us are still in touch with those hobbies today. One of the reasons you remain so stressed might be because you are so stuck in the drudgery of everyday life, that you hardly make time for things that make your happy.

It’s time to get out of the rut and MAKE time for your hobbies. Indulging in hobbies is a great stress buster and gives you the much-needed respite that can boost your mental health.

So, discover what you enjoy doing and incorporate it in your schedule.

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12. See a Therapist

If you find yourself going through bouts of stress and anxiety that is making it difficult for you to get through the day, reach out to a therapist.

There is nothing wrong in asking for help when you need it. Instead of getting lost in your cloud of thoughts, talk to therapists who can guide you. They can help you get to the root of the problem, guide you on coping with stress and handling your emotions.

13. Take a Vacation

Vacations are therapeutic. Just a change in environment, seeing a new place and taking a break from work and everyday duties can help you beat stress and de-clutter your thoughts.

It’s a great time for everyone in the family to go to someplace new and spend quality time together. Whether it’s a weekend getaway or a vacation abroad – planning family vacations is always a splendid idea.

14. Be Kind to Yourself

Last but not the least, be kind to yourself. In times of overwhelming stress, we are likely to lose our temper on people around us and most importantly, on ourselves.

We rush to beat ourselves over not being able to fulfill expectations; but the truth is that, none of this self-loathing behavior is going to make it any better for you.

You should be patient, practice self-love and comfort yourself such that you can work around your responsibilities in a better, more positive manner.

The Bottom Line

Yes, life can get very stressful at times and your responsibilities just don’t seem to end. But how you wish to deal with it completely depends on your attitude and perspective.

You can either succumb to the stress and let life get out of your hands, or you can take charge of matters and choose to live a happier, healthier life – the choice is yours!

Featured photo credit: AJ Garcia via unsplash.com

More by this author

Adela Belin

Writes about motivation, mental health, personal development and shares stories inspired by her personal journey.

The Importance of Self Improvement No Matter How Old You Are How to Cope with Stress When You’re Overwhelmed by Responsibilities 16 Best Podcasts on Motivation to Help You Reach Your Goals How Do I Change for the Better? 11 Little Things to Start Doing How to Crush Your Lack of Motivation and Always Stay Motivated

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Last Updated on January 6, 2021

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

3. Create a System

Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

5. Use a Ratings Scale

Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

7. Offer Feedback Forms

Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

8. Track Cost Effectiveness

This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

9. Use Self-Evaluations

Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

10. Monitor Time Management

This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

    The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

    While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

    We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

    Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

    For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

    Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

    Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

    From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

    12. Utilize Peer Feedback

    This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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    Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

    Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

    It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

    13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

    When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

    Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

    Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

    14. Use an External Evaluator

    Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

    They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

    While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

    Final Thoughts

    These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

    The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

    The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

    Reference

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