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Last Updated on December 4, 2020

How to Be Stress Free at Work and End Overwhelm

How to Be Stress Free at Work and End Overwhelm

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.

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.

In this article, you will learn how to be stress free at work and end overwhelm.

1. Look to the Future

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.

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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.

2. Make Use of 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.

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.

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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.

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

3. 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.

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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.

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.

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Step 5 – Decide when you are going to do the action

Write it down in your calendar.

4. 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 Tips for Reducing Stress

Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

More by this author

Daniel M. Wood

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

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Published on May 3, 2021

What Is Decision Fatigue And How To Combat It

What Is Decision Fatigue And How To Combat It

How often have you had the experience of needing to make tough decisions that pull you in different directions? You go round and round in circles and, in the end, you either flip a coin or make a snap decision because you’re just too tired to think anymore. Or maybe, you simply put off reaching a decision indefinitely, which is sometimes easier than making a tough call.

Can you relate to this currently? If so, then you’re likely suffering from decision fatigue. Poor decisions are made not because of incapability but because arriving at one or more choices takes its toll—to the extent that it severely weakens our mental energy.

Now that we know what decision fatigue is, let’s explore the primary ways to combat it to enable a stronger mental state coupled with better decision-making.

1. Identify and Make the Most Important Decisions First

If you have a busy personal or work life where many tricky decisions are on the table every day, this can easily and quickly become overwhelming. In this instance, create mental space by initially laying out all situations and challenges requiring a decision. Use a basic software tool or write them down on paper—a notepad file or word document is sufficient.

Once you have your complete list, carefully pick out the most important items needing a conclusion sooner rather than later. Be mindful of the fact that you can’t treat everything as urgent or requiring immediate attention. There have to be some things that are more important than others!

Prioritize and Declare the Appropriate Options

Equipped with your most pressing items awaiting decisions, add another layer of scrutiny by prioritizing them even further. The result should allow you to identify, in order, your most urgent and important tasks without any conflicting priorities.

The last part of this exercise is to highlight all of the options to consider for your most important decision and work through them one by one. With the visual representation of options and most critical decisions out the way first, you’ll be able to think more clearly and prevent decision fatigue from subtly kicking in.

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2. Implement Daily Routines to Automate Less Important Decisions

“Shall I have a healthy lunch today?” “Should I wake up earlier tomorrow?” “What time should I prepare dinner tonight?”

As trivial as these questions appear to be, each one still requires a decision. Stack them on top of other straightforward everyday questions in addition to more significant ones, and things can start to add up unpleasantly.

Small or less important decisions can eat away at your time and productivity. When many other decisions need to be made in parallel, it can lead to decision fatigue. However, there’s a method to avoid this. It involves streamlining aspects of your life by automating repetitive decisions, and this drives the ability to make better decisions overall.[1]

It’s Your Routine—Control It to Create Time for Other Activities

Instead of having to decide multiple times per week if you should have a healthy lunch, create a daily routine sufficiently ahead of time by dictating what healthy food you’ll eat for lunch every day. In doing so, you’re putting that particular decision on autopilot. Your predefined routine commits you to a decision immediately and without hesitation.

Invest time into highlighting all of the trivial and recurring situations requiring decisions daily, then implement a collective routine that relieves the need for you to give them much thought (if any thought at all).

3. Put a Time Limit on Every Decision

Making complex or big decisions increases the risk of draining your energy. This is especially true if you struggle with the fear of making the wrong decision. The doubt and worry bouncing around inside continuously are enough for the majority of people to become fed up and exhausted.

To make good decisions, you need to be in the right position to act. A tactic to deploy is to essentially force yourself to act by setting a time limit on your decision-making process. What might seem a little daunting—given that it can create a sense of added pressure—actually provides clarity on when you need to conclude since you can see the end in sight.

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Grow in Confidence by Reducing Hesitation

After making the decision, it’s time to move on. You’ll feel good and build self-confidence knowing that you didn’t linger on the choices available.

Only consider revisiting a previous decision if something unexpected occurs that impacts it. If that’s the case, then follow the same process by ensuring you make the revised decision before a new deadline.

4. Seek Input From Other People—Don’t Decide Alone

There’s a time and place to make decisions alone, but sometimes, it’s appropriate to involve others. If there’s any degree of struggle in reaching a verdict, then seeking opinions from people in your network can lessen the mental burden of indecisiveness.

Do you feel comfortable seeking input from other people to help make decisions? Trust and feeling secure in your relationships are crucial to answer “yes” to this question.

Explore the Thoughts of Others and Gain a Different Perspective

An insecure business leader likely won’t trust their team(s) to help them make decisions. On the other hand, an assured and secure business leader realizes they don’t “know it all.” Instead of going solo on all work-related decisions, they install trust among their team and get the support required to arrive at the best possible decisions.

The ability to make a great decision can depend on the information related to it that’s at your disposal. When faced with a difficult choice, don’t be afraid to lean on the relevant people for help. They can offer valid alternatives that are otherwise easy to overlook or hold the key to you making a well-informed decision.

5. Simplify and Lower the Number of Available Options

You’re standing in the store, facing an aisle of more than 20 varieties of peanut butter. You have no idea which one to choose, and although there are subtle differences, they all look fairly similar. No doubt you’ve been in this situation at least once in the past (maybe with a substitute for peanut butter!).

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This is a classic example of having too many choices—an event that makes you prone to decide to do nothing or waste time by continually pondering on which product to buy.

According to the psychological concept known as choice overload, simply having too many options can be disruptive and overburdening, causing decision fatigue.[2] Using the example above, you might make the easiest choice of avoiding any further thought, which often results in the purchase of the wrong item.

Extract Meaningful Information and Evaluate Options With a Binary Outcome

To simplify and lower your range of options, leverage the information available and extract what’s most important for you to make a decision. Is it the price? The protein content? Whether it has sustainable packaging or a combination of multiple details?

Keep a tight lid on having too many important components. Prioritize if necessary, and implement a binary outcome (of “yes” or “no” / “true” or “false”) to help arrive at decisions earlier, such as defining a limited price range that the product must fall within.

6. Eliminate Unnecessary Distractions

Arguably, attention is the currency of the modern world. The ability to concentrate better than the next person can mean the difference between a successful student, a thriving business, a happy parent, and a great decision-maker.

So, how can you improve your attention span to make better choices and avoid decision fatigue? There are many strategies, and one of the most optimal ways is to eliminate distractions. Today, the easiest distractions are a result of technology and the devices running it—all of which are at your fingertips 24/7.

Create Extended Periods of Time to Increase Focus

These distractions might be small or large, but the broader issue is the frequency of them, and they repeatedly cause a break in your focus. Dealing with this while trying to make the right decision can be mentally debilitating.

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Technology distractions commonly relate to email, instant messages, push notifications from mobile apps, and scrolling through social media feeds. Access to all of these technologies and tools must be limited to scheduled time blocks (ideally, using a calendar if it’s during a working day).

Switch off notifications entirely to all of the above to prevent distractions (where possible) when it’s not time to look at them. This enables you to think more deeply and focus for prolonged periods of time, ultimately boosting the chances of making good decisions.

Final Thoughts

Decision fatigue is a real phenomenon that can deplete energy levels and increase stress. It can affect anyone who has to make decisions, whether they are minor or major ones.

Overcoming decision fatigue needs patience and dedication. By applying the best practices discussed in this article, you’ll be on the path to implement valuable changes. These changes will increase your productivity, as well as drastically improve your consistency and ability to make the right choices.

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Featured photo credit: Jake Melara via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] FlexRule: Decision Automation
[2] Behavioral Economics: Choice Overload

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