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How to Make Productivity Fun

How to Make Productivity Fun
    Balloons are fun. Productivity can be too.

    Having “lived” in the productivity realm for several years now, I know exactly how dry a topic it can be. For those that adopt and stick with a productivity system, there are even more that don’t stick with (or never explore) a system. Finding a productivity system that works for you is hard work – often trial and error – and sticking with one is even harder. But it doesn’t have to be that way if you look at how adopting a productivity system can benefit you over the long haul, rather than judging the proverbial book by its cover.

    I’ve been able to dissect the various aspects of how productivity systems can be a huge asset to your life if you stick with them because of how long I’ve been looking at them. The reason most people adopt a system is because they want to find more time in their lives to do the things that they are passionate about; the things that fulfill them. It’s not about crossing things off of a list on a daily basis – that’s just what appears to happen on the surface. You try to be more productive because you are mindful about what you want. The problem with adopting a system for so many of us is that we get caught up in the “doing” rather than realize it is a means towards the “being” – getting closer to what we really want. And when we get caught up in doing stuff, we’re “doing productive” and not “being productive”. Yet we abandon the system before we allow the long haul benefits to really kick in, which happens after we escape worrying about doing stuff. The system starts to take care of itself more than the other way around. You just have to trust it.

    Trusting anything is something that takes time, but if you can make it fun along the way then the time passes much quicker. But how do you make something as “dry” as productivity…fun?

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    Start With The Small Stuff

    Change: it’s rarely fun. Human beings are averse to change, and throwing one into a productivity mindset is one of the biggest changes possible. So don’t do that.

    Instead, tackle small items from within your newly-adopted system first. Things that seem as mundane as “take out the garbage” or “review phone messages” may be automatic to you at this point, but put them in your system. Check them off as you do them, and start to add other things in there as well that you would do almost without thinking. (Don’t worry, you’ll be able to rid yourself of those items from the system at some point if you choose, but by adding them you’re entering a mindset of using your productivity system in a manner that is as painless as possible.) As you see items get checked off, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment as they start to add up. You’re rewarding yourself for things you used to do with no visual reward at all. Doing so will encourage you to build upon those successes and will create comfort inside the system. While it may not be incredibly fun for some, it definitely isn’t painful for most.

    Use Fun Tools

    Are you a fan of gadgets? Then use one to manage your productivity, like an iPhone or even a LiveScribe notebook. More of a paper person? Grab yourself a Moleskine and a writing instrument that is a pleasure to use to keep you on track.

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    By using tools you enjoy using, you’ll find that you’ll be better equipped mentally (and physically) to become more productive within a system you’ve chosen. And you’ll have fun using those tools while you do.

    Think Beyond The Lists

    Don’t just make up to do lists. Make up goals that you track. Create a “vision board” to give you a road map to what you want out of your life. Keep a journal of where you’re at each day and review it regularly.

    The lists are there to ensure you have a record of what you decide to do and what you decide not to do. If you look at your to do lists, you’ll see that you accomplish some tasks and either put off or drop others. Essentially, you can use your lists as a reference for your journal of progress – in fact, it is that journal. The lists will evolve every day while the goals and visions will only do so as you and your circumstances evolve. Your lists can have a say in that evolution, so treat them as such. They can lead you to where you want to be or can lead you astray. Be mindful of that when you put them together and look at back at them.

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    Create some goals and some plans for the future – some things that go way beyond your usual lists. Don’t censor yourself. It’s not only a fun exercise, but it can be a real educational one as well.

    The Perception of Fun

    Adopting a system that enables you to be more productive can be a fun adventure. It’s all in how you look at it and the steps you take along the way.

    “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.” ― Wayne W. Dyer

    Remember that by putting a system in place that creates a more productive you, you open the doors to channel the mindfulness that will bring you to where you want to be.

    Once you’re there, that’s where the real fun begins.

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    Last Updated on October 23, 2018

    How to Eliminate Work Stress When You’re Stressed to the Max

    How to Eliminate Work Stress When You’re Stressed to the Max

    Workplace stress is a modern epidemic. More than one-third of American workers experience chronic work stress. This is estimated to cost American businesses up to $300 billion a year in lost work hours and medical bills.[1]

    Clearly, if you’re suffering from work stress – you’re far from alone. But, work stress isn’t inevitable.

    In this article, I’m going to help you identify the root cause of your stress and suggest the most suitable ways to cope with job stress so you can become a happy and productive worker again.

    Where Work Stress Comes From

    Certain factors tend to go hand-in-hand with work-related stress. The causes of stress include:

    • Too much work – you feel overwhelmed by your work and find yourself saying: “There are not enough hours in the day!”
    • The job is too easy, not challenging or inspiring – this is where boredom (which is stressful) sets in.
    • Pressure from co-workers or lack of social support – colleagues are not helpful or only care about their own tasks.
    • Little praise and lots of criticism – this is where a lousy manager uses constant criticism to ‘try’ to motivate you.
    • Very demanding or competitive working culture – sales departments often fit this category.
    • Not having enough control over job-related decisions – this is when people try to micro-manage you.
    • High expectations on yourself or seeking perfection – while it’s good to do your best, being a perfectionist can be a powerful stress generator.
    • Low salary – if you work hard but receive slim financial rewards, you may start to feel downhearted, frustrated and stressed.

    The Negative Effects of Stress on Your Mind and Body

    Chronic stress is bad news for your mental health and physical health. These are some health symptoms of stress:[2]

      If stress hormones are triggered in your body for extended periods, they can lead to increased physical aging. This is because stress makes your cells look and act older – and this is reflected in your physical appearance.[3]

      In addition to the negative effects on your body, stress also has a significant influence on your brain – negatively impacting your daily performance.

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      I recommend you watch the 4-minute video below to see just how stress can wreak havoc on your brain and your performance:

      How to Cope with Work Stress (A Step-By-Step Guide)

      You don’t need to be a victim of work stress. Here’s how to manage stress in the workplace:

      1. Set aside some time for planning

      If work has become too much for you, and you’re constantly falling behind… stop! Instead of trying and failing to catch up, you’d be much better off spending some time thinking about your goals and how your prioritize your tasks.

      Learn how to set clear goals with this step-by-step guide.

      For instance, if your initial goal is just to get on top of your work (probably for the first time in months), then take 10 minutes to think clearly and deeply about how you can achieve this. Most likely, you’ll be able to come up with tasks that you need to complete to reach your goal. And once your goal and tasks are clear in your mind, you’ll be ready for the second step.

      2. Align your tasks with your goal

      Just knowing your goal and associated tasks is not enough. Many people reach this stage but still fall behind with their work and fail to achieve their goals.

      The secret is to understand which of your tasks should be high priority and which ones can be done when you have spare time.

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      For example, checking your inbox every 20 minutes may seem to be a productive task for you, but in reality it acts as a constant distraction and productivity killer. Instead, you’d be better off setting aside 30 minutes in the morning to check your emails and 30 minutes in the afternoon to do the same.

      By doing this, you’ll free up the bulk of your day for tasks that can help you reach your goal. These tasks are likely to be things like: writing a business proposal, creating a PowerPoint presentation, and finishing an important project.

      These tips on how to prioritize will help you align your tasks with your goals and work 10X more efficiently.

      3. Remove, change or accept the stressors

      How to tackle specific work stressors? I recommend the following method that WellCast introduced:[4]

      Take a piece of paper and divide it into three columns. At the top, write remove in the first column, change in the second and accept in the third.

        Next, think of the stressors that are getting to you the most. Perhaps it’s your paycheck; it might be way smaller than you’d like or feel that you deserve. Don’t worry, this is your chance to break free from the stress surrounding your low pay.

        Think for a few moments, which would you prefer:

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        • To remove yourself from the company
        • To try to change your salary by asking for a pay rise
        • To accept that your salary is okay for you

        You may be surprised at what thoughts come into your mind. Don’t reject them, but allow yourself time to be clear on how you’d like to proceed.

        If the status quo feels good to you, then write “paycheck” in the accept column. If you decide you want to increase your salary but stay in the same company, write “paycheck” in the change column. And finally, if you decide the time is right to seek a new opportunity at a different organization, then write “paycheck” in the remove column.

        By being decisive in this way, you’ll immediately feel freer and in control of your destiny. And your stress levels will begin to trend downwards. All that remains is to set yourself a clear goal of what you want to achieve and how you’re going to do this.(Luckily, steps #1 and #2 above will help you out!)

        Of course, if you have multiple work stressors, then use your remove, change or accept sheet to work through all of them. It will be time VERY well spent.

        4. Create positive relationships at work

        One key to improving your ability to manage stress is being able to accept help from others. Not only does it alleviate negative circumstances by simply distracting you and creating a buffer between daily tasks and their negative connection, it will provide a sense of support and relief.

        Make an effort to create friendships with your colleagues. Go to the after-work happy hour or just ask a colleague out for coffee at lunchtime. Not only will you have someone to confide in, but you will start to associate positive feelings to work.

        Forming a healthy relationship with your manager or supervisor is also a good way to alleviate stress. Positive, two-way conversations about where you stand in your job, being honest about how you feel, and working together to make a plan of action in terms of improved work conditions and expectations are paramount. This will lead to opening up and receiving the necessary resources you need to support or help you.

        5. Take time out for yourself

        Anyone can get overwhelmed when stress occurs at work, and this can spill into other areas of your life. This is why it’s important to clock out mentally from your job from time to time.

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        Take time off to relax and unwind in order to regain your energy and come back to work invigorated. Make sure you actually do something you enjoy like spending time with your kids or partner, or visit that country you’ve always wanted to explore.

        If taking time off work isn’t possible in the midst of your stress, take scheduled breaks throughout your day. Sit quietly somewhere or do some stretches to get your blood flowing like in the example below:

        6. Take mindful action towards your health

        The irony of stress is that your healthy habits can take a backseat. Maintaining and even improving your health will keep your stress under control. Here are some ways to keep you physically fit:

        • Eat healthy foods. Make sure your diet is full of foods that provide your body with sufficient nutrients. Eat more fruits and green vegetables, whole foods, omega-3 rich fish, and seeds such as flax, chia and hemp. These types of food ensure your body is working optimally to cope with its stress mechanisms.
        • Avoid unhealthy foods. This is obvious, but it’s these kinds of food you reach for in times of stress and negativity. High fat foods such as cheese and red meat cause sluggishness and tiredness. Foods high in refined sugars like biscuits, chocolate bars, and bread can be convenient snacks, but they cause you to crash and burn. Same with caffeinated drinks such as coffee and sodas – these are just ‘band aid’ habits that interfere with your ability to sleep.
        • Exercise regularly. Endorphins are the best for counteracting stress, and what better way to release them than doing physical exercise. Exercise creates a distraction and helps you get your thoughts back together in an orderly way. Start a new exercise regime – whether it’s running, swimming, cycling or walking to work. Getting your blood and endorphins flowing will make you feel happier.
        • Get enough sleep. Make getting 8 hours sleep a priority. When we’re stressed it can sometimes feel hard to get to sleep but sleep deprivation only exaggerates our current stress. A well-rested mind is able to find solutions to problems more easily and reacts better to daily stressors.

        Final Thoughts

        Everyone encounters stress at work. It’s a natural and normal human reaction. The difference between letting the stress overcome you and coping with it is getting a head start by creating a positive environment and lifestyle.

        Counteracting stress is both an inside and outside job. Focusing on improving your health will create a positive mind able to react better. Forming positive relationships with certain people around you will give you emotional support.

        Beat stress with the right mindset!

        Featured photo credit: whoislimos via unsplash.com

        Reference

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