Is there a way to maintain steady focus throughout the day? Is it possible to do everything that needs to get done and still have energy left over after work?
If you feel like you’ve been working like a slave, try these five stress-relieving strategies and start feeling like a boss.
Strategy #1: Get your priorities straight
That to-do list isn’t going anywhere, but don’t let it overwhelm you. The secret to effective time management is to keep changing up your schedule. The Pomodoro technique is one way to break your busy day into manageable 25-minute tasks (with short breaks in between).
The order you tackle your to-do list matters, too. Make sure the projects that impact your personal goals and the company’s priorities are getting most of your time. Those other tasks can probably wait.
Strategy #2: Eat like an eagle (not like a hog)
When you’re slaving over a project at your desk, meal times often get pushed out of the schedule. How many times have you “made do” with pizza, chips, fast food, or some other high-carb, high-calorie lunch while you tried to finish a project?
If this sounds like you, you’re setting yourself up for a physical and mental crash. Try a low-sugar, high-protein diet instead. Yes, it takes more time to prepare, and you may even have to leave your office for a while. But that’s a good thing (see the “More Breaks” section below). And optimal mental performance requires healthy fuel to keep you in your A-game all day long.
Strategy #3: Own your work (and don’t sweat the rest)
Stress that comes from feeling out of control kills your confidence and concentration. It’s rare that you can control all aspects of something at work, but you can control your actions and responses. This gives you a level of power that can set your mind at ease.
Example: If you’re responsible for 20 percent of a work project and it seems to be an all-around disaster, make sure your 20 percent is under control. You don’t control the other 80 percent, so don’t let how well (or how poorly) it’s going consume your mental energy.
If this sounds like a Zen master approach, that’s because it is. You must learn when to relinquish control to achieve nirvana. Or something like that.
Strategy #4: More breaks means more productivity
It’s in our modern nature to keep going until the work is done. But we always run out of hours before we run out of work, don’t we? And at the end of a day where it’s been nonstop nose-to-the-grindstone, we typically feel like we’ve been beat up.
It’s hard enough to get your work done without feeling like this. So make time throughout the day for breaks. We aren’t talking about hour-long naps here (unless, of course, that’s something you can manage!). But just two minutes of deep breathing exercises away from the computer. Or perhaps a few minutes of brisk walking after 90 minutes of intense focus.
Make time for breathing, stretching, and walking around. It’ll make the rest of your work time more productive.
Strategy #5: Interrupt your interruptions
We have more interruptions in our work lives than ever before. From phone to email to social media, we let most of these interruptions in willingly.
Why make your work life harder? If your work is getting derailed by these distractions, make sure you set aside windows of time for them.
For example, check and respond to email at a designated time in the morning and another designated time in the afternoon. Don’t look at it at any other time. Set aside a specific time every day to listen to voicemail and return calls and turn the ringer off the rest of the time.
What are your “tips and tricks” for eliminating stress and being more productive at work? I’d love to hear them. Thanks for reading.
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