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5 Ways To Turn Stress Into Productivity

5 Ways To Turn Stress Into Productivity
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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 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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