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5 Ways To Turn Stress Into Productivity

5 Ways To Turn Stress Into Productivity

Stress prevents productivity, which is why you need to learn how to manage your stress levels in order to become more productive. Stress is self-imagined, self-imposed, and self-created; Which means you basically create your own stress and therefore you’re the one that’s preventing yourself from getting things done.

Stress is an unhealthy emotion that wastes too much of your energy. Instead, you should be focusing all that energy on the task at hand. Stress only becomes as powerful as you allow it to (at least that’s what Yoda told me). An emotion like stress can derail your day and control your actions, but it doesn’t have to; by stopping and addressing the issue once it starts, you’ll be a lot more likely to spend your day actually getting things done instead of just stressing over getting things done.

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1. Get Caught Up to Stress Less

It won’t be easy to concentrate on what needs to get done today if you’re stressed about things that didn’t get done yesterday. Instead of letting the unfinished tasks daunt your mind, be more productive with your time and focus on completing them rather than worrying about them. If you’re behind on your list of things to do, getting caught up will offer some relief and you’ll find yourself not stressing out so much. Stress isn’t going to get things done for you, no matter how much energy you put in to it.

2. Give Yourself More Time and Take Breaks

Unless it’s absolutely crucial for you to get something done by a certain time, don’t give yourself strict deadlines that’s not easily manageable; Doing so will cause you to stress out about getting the project done on time and you’ll be in constant worry as you repeatedly glance at the clock to see how much time you have left. While this may cause you to work faster to get things done, it’s not likely you’re actually putting in the quality work that’s needed if you’re simply speeding through the task because you’re fueled by a deadline you’re stressing over.

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If you are at work on a task under a strict deadline or you simply find yourself getting worked up over completing a task, you’ll find it beneficial if you just step away for about 5 or 10 minutes and take a breather. Use that five or ten minutes to calm yourself, rest, get some fresh air, etc, and you’ll have a clearer head when you return back to the task which will allow you to work more efficiently.

3. Don’t Do It All Yourself

If you are under a strict deadline or you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by completing the task, you should ask for help if you need it. Everyone needs help at some point and having an extra set of hands to help won’t feel as overwhelming as if you were doing it by yourself. With help, you’ll be twice as productive and you’ll worry less about meeting that deadline now that you have someone helping you. If you know that you can’t do the task yourself, you shouldn’t push yourself; Doing so is only going to cause more stress and diminish the quality of work you’re producing even further.

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4. Get Some Perspective on Your Task

Becoming more productive in your day to day life can be accomplished by realizing what’s important and what’s not important because you’re likely spending a lot of your time stressing over things that are not that important in the big picture. A lot of the things that people stress over are actually not as significant as they would like to think they are; Unless something is going to do you bodily harm, then it’s probably not worth mentally upsetting yourself over it. Keeping a positive attitude as you start the day, dive into your tasks, and tackle everything that needs to be done can deter you from getting sidetracked and wasting time on stressing over insignificant things. Method 5 will explain a way for you to figure out if what you’re stressing over has any actual significance at all or not.

5. Focus on Your Stress and Confront It

Sometimes focusing on your stress can be a good thing, if you’re trying to figure out how to better handle it that is. If trying to avoid stress isn’t as much of a successful method as you would like it to be, you could be productive through your stress and write down what it is that’s making you feel that way so you can confront it. In addition to writing down what stresses you out, also write down what’s the worst that can possibly happen. This will allow you to be able to look at back at what you wrote at a later time and see for yourself whether or not what you were stressing over was actually something significant. Usually, things end up not being as bad as they seem once you remove yourself from the situation and get a clearer head when looking at things.

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Stress can ruin your life, but it only will if you let it. By learning to maintain your stress, you can become more productive, be happier, and learn how to look at the bigger picture of things. While it’s natural to feel some extent of stress when it comes to some things in life; Stress shouldn’t dominate your day. When you notice that it has, that’s when you know you have a problem. When you feel yourself about to start stressing, stop and address it. Put things in perspective, let the insignificant things go, and start getting more done everyday.

Featured photo credit: Giuseppe Savo via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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