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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.

How to Be Stress Free at Work and End Overwhelm How Setting Daily Goals Makes You Achieve Big Success How to Make a Plan That Will Help Your Business Thrive

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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

How To Protect Your Focus From Being “Robbed” By Notifications and Social Media

How To Protect Your Focus From Being “Robbed” By Notifications and Social Media

Between a cell phone that’s always ringing, a plethora of social media apps vying for your attention, and a steady stream of text messages, it probably feels like you can never get a moment of peace.

Think about how many times you’ve been working when a notification pops up on your screen. The message might be important, but more often than not, it’s just spam that pulls your focus away from your project.

Imagine all the times you’ve been in a meeting and felt the distinctive buzzing of your cell phone. Putting a smartphone on vibrate doesn’t make it any less disruptive for its owner. You instantly divert your attention from the other human beings in the room to the device in your pocket.

Distractions make you work harder

Studies suggest that the average American worker is interrupted every three minutes and five seconds.[1] An estimated 6 hours of productivity are lost every day to distraction. When someone is interrupted, they not only have to deal with the disruption, but then they have to use even more time and energy to get back into their work.[2]

It’s not only annoying to feel like you can never situate your mind on one task, but it also keeps you from doing your best work. The greatest ideas require time for mental processing. You have to do research and dig deep to come up with exciting ideas. If your focus is shallow, your ideas will never be able to develop to their fullest potential.

Our concentration naturally fluctuates

It would be nice if you could simply disconnect from the internet and have a consistent ability to concentrate, but that’s not how your brain works.

If you were to visualize your concentration throughout an 8-hour work day, it might look like this graph.

Throughout the day, you will experience peaks and valleys in your energy levels. You might feel a jolt of productivity after you go for a walk or have a cup of coffee, but there will also be points in the day–like right after lunch–where you’ll feel sluggish. You create your best work during periods of high energy and focus.

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Protecting those peak periods ensures that you can maximize your work time. When you constantly shift your focus back and forth between your work and distractions, your brain has to work extra hard to get back on track. Opening your Facebook page or replying to your friend’s What’s App message is almost never worth the productivity cost.

You will still have peak moments of productivity when you face interruptions, but the peaks will not be as high. This is because jumping between items wears you out. You lower your potential productivity every time you give in to distraction.

To be successful, you have to root out anything that stands in your way. The inability to concentrate will affect your work performance, but you can take control of the situation.

How to maintain focus in a sea of disruptions

Being able to give your best at work doesn’t mean that you have to disconnect from the world entirely. You can still enjoy the connections you have through technology, but there are a few ways that you can keep them from having a negative impact on your work.

One of the first things that you can do to minimize your distractions is set aside a time for them. Give yourself windows of time when it’s acceptable to look at Facebook or respond to messages.

Start by listing out the things that most commonly distract you. Maybe you get sucked into the rabbit hole of Facebook if you get a notification. Perhaps you find that your friends texting you throughout the day pulls you from work. Whatever it may be, write it down.

Then, set aside a time slot in which you are free to use the apps as you please.

Plan to use your distracting apps during times when you need to restore energy. As you can see from the graph, times when you need to restore your energy are also times when you may not be as productive.

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Instead of giving up peak energy times, sacrifice the time when you aren’t working well to engage with technology. When your recovery time has ended, jump right back into your work.

It might seem counter-intuitive to make time for these distractions during your day, but if you create a schedule that protects periods of peak energy, you will actually boost your productivity. Instead of being inundated with notifications or thinking about the next time when you are allowed to check your messages, you’ll have designated times for that.

Rather than shift your attention at random, you can focus fully on the task at hand until it’s your time to play on social media or check messages. Using this approach can help you regain a lot of your brain power because you won’t have to waste it on refocusing. You’ll simply do less important tasks during natural breaks in your day.

Set up a system to limit distractions

Just because you vow to check your messages and look at social media during certain times doesn’t keep distractions from happening. You’ll need to set up a system to keep disruptions at bay.

You can’t always control when someone is going to send you a message or when you’ll get a notification. You can start by adjusting your settings. Most apps allow you to opt out of notifications. Stop push notifications from non-essential apps.

For everything else, you need a different plan. We may be able to avoid opening social media tabs, but sometimes the messages still pop up on our phones. At the same time, most of us want to continue to use social media to stay connected and receive important information.

Try planting some trees with your concentration

The Forest app helps you train your brain to avoid distractions during work time. You can use Forest on your desktop or smartphone. The app works by enabling you to establish an amount of time during which you do not wish to be interrupted. You can adjust the amount of time from 10 minutes up to several hours.

Refer back to the list of distractions that you made earlier. You can take the websites and apps that drain your time and add them to the Forest’s blacklist.

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    The amount of time that you wish to stay off of distracting websites and apps is called a “planting session.” When you decide that you want to “plant a tree,” the countdown timer starts. If you access a blacklisted website during the time when you are supposed to be working, the app will remind you that your tree is still growing. You will have to decide whether or not you want to kill your tree, which is harder than you might think.

      When you can successfully stay off of distracting sites for the allotted time, your tree grows, and you get coins. The coins will allow you to unlock other types of trees.

        As you continue with your work session, you can see a countdown timer and an animation of a tree growing from a seed to its full splendor. Usually Forest also includes an inspirational saying to keep you on track if your focus starts to drift.

          To make the impact of your efforts even greater, success in Forest also gives you the option to plant a tree in real life.

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          This simple visualization can help you break the bad habit of checking your phone or accessing websites that disrupt your thought processes. When Forest asks you if you would like to “give up” and kill your tree, most often you will realize that the reason you were heading to the blacklisted website wasn’t that important anyway.

          Sometimes you just need a small reminder to stay on task. Use Forest during your peak productivity times so that you don’t waste the most valuable parts of your day.

          You have to identify the distractions before you can stop them

          You may be wondering how much of your peak productivity time you are losing to mindless distractions. The only way to find out is to take a closer look at your habits. Notice the times when you seem to do your best work. Name the sources of notifications and interruptions that decrease your attention. After you have done this, use an app like Forest to cut out the distractions.

          Using Forest will not prevent you from being tired, and it won’t keep you from staring off into space, but it will make you think twice about wasting time on sites that distract you.

          When you are able to experience a distraction-free work environment, you’ll recognize how much more you are able to accomplish. You’ll be able to do your work more efficiently, and you won’t feel the fatigue of constantly re-centering yourself. Soon, your desire to stay focused will be stronger than the temptation to click on your notifications.

          Featured photo credit: Viktor Hanacek/ Picjumbo via picjumbo.com

          Reference

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