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The Art of Stress-Free Work

The Art of Stress-Free Work

Stress is a poison in today’s society.

The negative effects of stress are numerous. It weakens our immune system, which causes sickness. Because of stress, people produce less. When stressed people are less creative. The list goes on and on.

Relaxing

    Problems caused by stress cost our society billions of dollars every year.

    On the flip side, this means that anyone who can lower their stress levels and produce at a high level is at an advantage in the workplace. Those people will quickly become the most valued assets in any organization.

    Looking to the Future

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    For many, there doesn’t seem to be any end to the stress. Companies and organizations keep expecting more for less which means we have to work harder, produce more, and get better results.

    This means that if we are to solve the situation we cannot look to the outer world. We have to look inside ourselves and make a change.

    When I Learned the 80/20 Rule

    Most of us get caught up in tasks that really don’t have much of an impact on our future.

    I started to think about it this way: 20 percent of the activities we do stand for 80% of the results we produce.

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    Another way of putting it is that if you have a list of 10 actions, 2 of those actions will have a greater effect on your future than the other 8 put together.

    When I looked at my own work schedule this was really obvious.

    When I first started thinking about the 80/20 rule, I was working as a sales manager with 5 sales people under me. My task list was as follows:

    1. Making sales calls
    2. Coach sales people
    3. Sitting in meetings with my bosses
    4. Prepare marketing and sales campaigns
    5. Answer and reply to emails
    6. Write standardized offers
    7. Create campaign banners
    And a few other unimportant things.

    When I looked through this list, I realized that 80 percent of the value I created for my company came from coaching sales people and making my own sales calls. Most of the others were unimportant or easy to delegate.

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    Once I started focusing on those 2 tasks, my numbers and value skyrocketed…which quickly got me a promotion.

    How to Focus Your Efforts

    A few years ago I was taught a great method for decreasing stress. This guide will help you by getting thoughts, deals and commitments out of your head and on to paper, someplace you know you will be able to go back and review it regularly and that you know you will not forget it.

    By not having to keep everything in your mind, you will be able to review it and decide which are activities comprise that crucial 20%, and you will be able to focus single-mindedly on those tasks without having to remember lots of other thoughts and ideas.

    Step 1 – What is taking up a lot of your focus and energy?
    Write down a list of everything you are thinking about and stressing about.

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    Step 2 – What would be a successful outcome to this situation?
    To each point on the list, visualize what a perfect solution would be and then write it down.

    Step 3 – How important is it that this task is done?
    By answering this question, you learn if this task is something you need and should do or if it really isn’t that important and can be eliminated.

    Step 4 – What action could you take to move the project towards that goal?
    Once you know that the idea is an important one, write down what the next action you can take to move the goal towards its perfect solution.

    Step 5 – Decide when you are going to do the action
    Write it down in your calendar.

    Let Go and Relax

    Do you feel how much more relaxed you are now that you don’t have to remember all your ideas? Now that you know that they will be done?

    This exercise has helped people all over the world get their ideas in writing, find actionable steps to take on their workloads, and start moving towards their major goals. It is a great cure to procrastination and a great way to increase your productivity start living a stress-free life.

    More by this author

    Daniel M. Wood

    Daniel is the founder of Looking To Business.com. He writes about Motivation, Success and Time Management.

    How Setting Small Daily Goals Makes You Achieve Big Success The Art of Stress-Free Work How to Make a Plan That Will Help Your Business Thrive

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    Last Updated on November 19, 2019

    Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart

    Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart

    I imagine that like me, you say that you never have enough time and that you just cannot cope with 60 dozen things all at once.

    How on earth do you get out of that spiral?

    Many people never sit down and look at how to work smarter, rather than harder and even longer hours. But not you, you’re smart enough to try to learn effective ways to work.

    So how to work smarter not harder? Here are 12 smart ways you should be following:

    1. Improve Your Time Management Skills

    Easier said than done? Well, no actually, because there are a few simple rules that can really help you to manage time better.

    For example, when setting up a top priority task, you need to switch off the phone and ignore your email first. Then you need to abandon any ideas of multitasking as that will slow you down and ruin your focus.

    Finally, set a reasonable deadline and do everything in your power to meet it.

    “When you’re born, you’re born with 30,000 days. That’s it. The best strategic planning I can give to you is to think about that.” — Sir Ray Avery

    2. Speed up Your Typing and Use Shortcuts

    These days we’re all keyboard slaves. So why not speed up your typing and try to get rid of the two finger syndrome. In fact, when you save 21 days per year just by typing fast!

    This is exactly what I am doing now, so I cannot honestly say I am practicing what I preach!

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    But help is at hand. Try some of these apps and games to help you type fast: 8 Most Effective Games and Apps to Learn to Type Fast

    Using shortcuts on the keyboard is another time saver and can speed up your work.

    For example, press F2 to rename a selected file, while CTRL + I will put selected text in italics.

    There are so many of these. If you make the effort to learn them, they really can be helpful.

    3. Learn How to Use Productivity Tools

    It is well worth downloading all the useful tools and apps that can highly boost your productivity. Take a look at these 18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools and install whatever fits your needs.

    Now that is really a great way of working smarter, not harder.

    4. Use Your Phone Wisely

    Instead of writing emails, sometimes it’s better to pick up the phone and talk to the person responsible. It saves time, especially for important or urgent discussions.

    If that colleague works in the same office, it is even better to go and talk to him or her. It gives you a break, you get some exercise and you actually make human contact which is becoming quite rare in this electronic world.

    5. Keep a Tab on Your Tabs

    If you are like me, you might well find that you have a ton of tabs open at the top of your browser.

    In order to find the one you want, you have to search for them as they are off screen. Having all these tabs open slows down your browser too.

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    One solution is to use OneTab which can keep a neat list on the screen of all these tabs when you want to quickly get to one of them or you want to remind yourself which ones you have open.

    6. Use a “To Don’t” List

    We all know about to do lists and I find that they are generally great. They give me a great sense of achievement as I cross off the tasks done.

    But often, I find that we are doing non-essential tasks or ones that can easily be postponed. That is why many people recommend the to don’t list.[1]

    Some people prefer to savagely prune the to do list while others prefer to have two separate lists, to do and to don’t. You just have to work out what works best for you when you are trying to save precious time to become more productive.

    7. Expect Failure and Fight Paranoia

    When failure rears its ugly head, some people get a bit paranoid and fear that this may become a trend.

    Projects will go wrong and failure should be expected rather than feared. Learning lessons from failure and analyzing what went wrong is the best way forward.

    “Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.” — Richard Branson

    And here you can find 10 Great Lessons Highly Successful People Have Learned From Failure.

    8. Be Concise

    Rambling on at meetings, in emails and even when introducing yourself to new clients can waste a lot of people’s time.

    One way is to practice and sharpen your “elevator speech,”[2] which tells people in 30 seconds or less why they need your skills and how they can benefit from doing business with you.

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    Just think of the many situations where this could be useful:

    • Making new contacts
    • Talking about yourself at a job interview
    • Meeting people at conferences or parties
    • Phone calls to new clients

    9. Ask the Right Questions

    “You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” — Naguib Mahfouz

    How do you get feedback? The secret is to ask the right questions at the right time.

    When you do this, you are gathering the information you need to help in decision making. This will save you time and you will be able to cut meetings to a minimum.

    Forbes magazine reports on research that they carried out on asking the right questions.[3] When that happens, the positive effects are increased by 400%. There are also other benefits in staff motivation and a positive impact on the company’s bottom line.

    Lifehack’s CEO Leon has shared about how to ask for feedback to learn faster: How to Learn Quickly And Master Any Skill You Want

    10. Learn as Much as You Can

    You should always be on a steep learning curve. Look at your skills profile and determine where you need to fill a gap. Talk to important connections and network in your niche.

    Keep up to date on trends and developments. It is a fact-changing world. When an opportunity arises, you will be the best equipped to seize it because you have never stopped learning. Just another way of working smarter.

    “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” — Mahatma Gandhi

    11. Look After Your Greatest Resource

    No, your greatest resource is not time. It is YOU.

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    If you do not get enough sleep, exercise and relaxation, you find that you become less and less productive. You begin to work longer and longer hours, which is the exact opposite of what you want.

    What you should be doing is making sure you are in the best shape. It is useful to remember that you need a break of 15 minutes after every one and a half hours of work.[4]

    Taking breaks and getting fresh air and exercise is one of the best ways of working smarter, not harder.

    12. Don’t Fall into the Trap of Working Smarter and Harder

    As a society, we are obsessed with doing everything smarter so we are more efficient and we save time all around.[5]

    But the most important thing to remember is to accept when we are ready to switch off that computer and not fill up the time with even more work!

    The Bottom Line

    The key to greater productivity is to work smarter, not harder. Working smarter saves precious time and energy for the things that really matter — your life goals, your personal growth, your health and your relationships.

    Stop working for more hours and start working smarter!

    More About Working Smart

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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