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How to Curb Three Major Stressors in Life

How to Curb Three Major Stressors in Life

    It’s almost 2012 and it’s only natural that we start to reminisce and review what we have (and haven’t) accomplished. It’s also a time where we are bombarded with friends and family, holiday expenses, the looming “threat” of tax time, etc.

    If we have stress already in our lives it can be a time where we feel that our issues have gotten to be too much to handle. But how did we get here in the first place? If you lay awake at night, dreading the future, chances are you have some serious stress going on. Also, chances are one of the main reasons of that building stress comes from the one of the causes below.

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    Money and Debt

    It isn’t a surprise that people worry about money and how much or how little that they have. Disagreements about money and debt is one of the leading problems that faces married couples and people in general today, and with the “global economic decline”, the pressures of making enough money are becoming greater for more and more people.

    A couple of easy ways to get the stresses of your money situation out of your head are as follows:

    1. Write down and know what you are spending things on. If you don’t know where your money is going, you don’t stand a chance in making it right in the future.
    2. Start a budget and keep to it. This is the single most powerful thing that I have done to keep me sane when it comes to money. Try using YNAB for this.
    3. Keep track of your debt and figure out a way to start a “debt snowball”. It will get you excited about your future and relieve some of the current stress.
    4. Cut out things in your life that you spend too much money on and that you don’t need. Don’t go overboard though. You can stress yourself out even more by limiting your “fun spending” on entertainment and the like.

    Work

    Another fact of life is that you will have to do some sort of work during it. Whether it be for a big or small company, or even for yourself (you savvy, entrepreneur, you) you will have to deal with other humans, projects, deadlines, expectations, etc. Work can take control of your life if you are not careful and can cause all kinds of unneeded stress.

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    The fact is that we as knowledge workers aren’t worth a damn if we are overworked and under relaxed. Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz point out in their book, The Power of Full Engagement (non-affiliate link), that the highest performers at work aren’t the ones that have their nose to the grindstone day in and day out; they are the ones that know how to balance their work and life and manage their energy.

    Here are ways to do that:

    1. Know your limits. Most people aren’t productive for 10+ hours a day. Limit your workday and break it up with some exercise, socializing, entertainment, etc.
    2. Set up time blocks to get things done. If a project deadline is approaching and freaking you out, plan some time in your calendar where you devote your attention to it.
    3. Make sure that you make time in your schedule to plan. Most of the stress in your workday can be caused from trying to do projects and actions that haven’t been defined yet.
    4. Create a personal productivity system and stick to it. It will help you see what you have to do in your work life (as well as your personal life).

    Health

    Obesity levels in the US are at an all time high. Fast food and junk foods are easier and cheaper than ever to get your hands on. People’s idea of “health food” varies, but it’s usually wrong. Being unhealthy can keep you sick, in and out of hospitals, and worried that you aren’t going to see the age of 40.

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    I have my own opinions about how to eat and exercise, and while they aren’t for everyone, they have worked for me (and many others) and have definitely changed my game in work and life.

    Being unhealthy can suck the life out of you. While everyone has their own opinion on what is the best way to eat and exercise, there are a few things that we all can agree on that will help you get and stay healthy and relieve some of that stress associated with it:

    1. Walk everyday. People don’t walk enough. Try to walk on the breaks that you should be taking during work. Try to add an hour of walking to your day in 15 minute increments.
    2. Eat well. Like I said, everyone has their own ideas of what is healthy and what isn’t. I go for a Paleo approach, but maybe that doesn’t work for you. Do some research and change your eating habits accordingly.
    3. Do some “high intensity” exercise. Lift heavy things and sprint every once in a while. It will release all kinds of endorphins essentially making you feel great and de-stressing you.
    4. Get a screening from a physician at least once a year. If you don’t have insurance consider saving up a little money every month to afford one at the end of the year. Just how you can’t know how to budget money if you don’t know where you are spending it, it’s hard to know what to change in your diet and/or exercise pattern unless you know how healthy (or unhealthy) you are.

    There are stressors all around us in life, but these three are the major ones that cause most of people’s pain. Dealing with them can be difficult, especially if you have let them build up over many months and years. As we get to the end of this year, take a look at what is currently causing you stress and work on a plan to curb it.

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    (Photo credit: Stress courtesy of Shutterstock)

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    20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

    20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

    Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

    If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

    1. Create a daily plan

    Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

    2. Peg a time limit to each task

    Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

    3. Use a calendar

    Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

    Google Calendar is great – I use it. It’s even better if you can sync it to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are.

    Here’s more tips about how to use calendar for better time management: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

    4. Use an organizer

    An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

    Check out these Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools and pick the ones that fit your needs.

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    5. Know your deadlines

    When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

    But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

    6. Learn to say “No”

    Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

    Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

    7. Target to be early

    When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

    For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

    Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

    8. Time box your activities

    This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

    You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: #5 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity.

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    9. Have a clock visibly placed before you

    Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

    10. Set reminders 15 minutes before

    Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

    Find out more here about how reminders help you remember everything.

    11. Focus

    Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

    Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

    Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

    12. Block out distractions

    What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

    I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

    When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

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    Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

    13. Track your time spent

    Egg Timer is a simple online countdown timer. You key in the amount of time you want it to track (example: “30 minutes”, “1 hour”) and it’ll count down in the background. When the time is up,the timer will beep. Great way to be aware of your time spent.

    But besides Egg Timer, you can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that fits yourself the best.

    14. Don’t fuss about unimportant details

    You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

    Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

    15. Prioritize

    Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

    Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    16. Delegate

    If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

    When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

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    17. Batch similar tasks together

    For related work, batch them together.

    For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

    1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
    2. coaching
    3. workshop development
    4. business development
    5. administrative

    I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

    18. Eliminate your time wasters

    What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

    One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

    While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

    19. Cut off when you need to

    The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

    Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

    20. Leave buffer time in-between

    Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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