Stress is rampant and dangerous. According to the American Psychological Association, chronic stress is linked to the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide. And more than 75 percent of all physician office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.
Some of us are lucky and don’t experience extreme stress levels. Others are consumed by it. No matter the situation—a flat tire, a bounced check, an ill family member—you'll encounter personal stress. Then add work to the mix, and you’ll add a whole new set of stressers. And no matter what you do, you will take your work stress home, and that will affect how you behave outside of the office. The statistics don’t lie: Stress will make you unhappy and unhealthy. No one wants that, so do what you can to nip it in the bud.
No matter how much you love your job, it can be a grind. Day in and day out, you’re responsible to complete a set of tasks at a level of quality that needs to sustain throughout your tenure with an employer. You’ve likely got professional goals and obligations to meet, and if you’re career-driven, you aspire to continue growing as a professional. That all sounds idealistic, doesn’t it? In fact, most employees find it hard to make the time to get their actual work done, because they’re constantly handling urgent requests, adapting to shifting business goals, and even organizational change. It can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be.
In some cases, stress can be a roadblock to productivity and happiness. It could take you down if you let it. But you will not. With a bit of guidance and some discipline, you’ll be the one taking down that stress.
There are tons of resources available to help you cope—from books to programs, webinars, and more. But if you make an effort to organize yourself and stick to a few fundamentals that you can adapt to your personal work style, you’ll find your fists and teeth unclenching.
If you are not keeping some form of to-do list, today is the day you will start. Creating a simple, actionable list is the first thing you can do every day to make sure you’re accounting for all planned tasks, and being honest about your workload. You can create your list in under 10 minutes using the following criteria:
You can employ these methods using one of many desktop or phone applications that exist, or simply by recording them in writing. Only you know what will be most effective for you, so test out a couple of options and commit to a practice that will keep you organized. You’ll be one step closer to being stress-free.
Our work world is flooded with real-time communication. It’s not unrealistic to say you could receive 50 to 100 e-mails (or more) an hour. Add instant messages, texts, and phone calls to that, and you've likely found your roadblock. That’s right, other people are killing your productivity and you are the only one who can fix that. You’ve got to set some serious communication expectations because if you don’t, you’ll spend time talking about work and not actually doing it.
Only you will know what tactics feel right for you. A lot depends on the type of job you have and the environment that you’re in. No matter what you do, if you think about how you communicate and how that impacts your time, you can start to create practices that will cut down time that might be wasted otherwise.
When all else fails and you’re still buried under a pile of tasks, ask yourself, “If I do this first, how will it impact the rest of my work?” and “What can wait?” Those two questions—minus a list and some strict practices—will save you from a stress headache.
What it comes down to is that you’ve got to spend some time on your personal organization in order to actually be productive. Yes, you’ve got to spend some time to save some time. If you pick up just a few of these practices, you’ll save yourself from a time suck that will lead to stress.
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