Let me be real with you – I am all for a cup of tea and a bath to unwind, but when you’re under the pump, these things tend to work only as a temporary pick-me-up. I have found the most useful way to beat stress is to be proactive. In the long-term, stress should be something you respond to, rather than recover from.
Here are my top 5 tips on how to be more productive and stress less in the process.
How do you keep your stress levels in check? I’d love to hear from you!
Oh, and remember – you’ve got this!
- Face things head on. By this I mean identify exactly what is making you stressed. Is it a deadline at work, a uni assignment, a job application, or even perhaps managing competing commitments in your life? Until you consciously turn your mind and address with yourself the fact that “you are stressed about X”, it’s so easy for ‘X’ to become a shadow constantly tugging at the back of your mind. Once you have the reason cornered, consider the specific aspects which are worrying you. By mentally unpackaging the issue, you are actually working through the uncertainty and thinking of solutions to help yourself succeed.
- Thou shalt not procrastinate. I get it. Location scouting for your next holiday and watching just one more makeup tutorial is very necessary. But not when you’re avoiding the real task at hand. Putting your work off is only going to make things harder for yourself in the long run. If you get distracted easily (guilty), the best solution is totally remove the temptation. Put your phone in a different room and ban yourself from internet browsing for a set period of time. It’s really important to set targets and reward yourself. That way you’ll instantly feel more accountable for achieving your goal. Try ideas like “I’ll take a break after responding to 10 emails” or “I’ll go for a walk at 11:30” – whatever will provide the best incentive for you to be productive.
- Know your limits. We get most stressed when we feel tired and overwhelmed. Therefore, when you’ve got a lot to get through, the key is to work smarter for longer. Learn how long it takes for you to start losing focus, and always take a break before you get to that point. I find that my concentration tends to waver after around 2 hours of work, so I work in 1.5 hour blocks. Coming back after 10 or 15 minutes into a controlled situation will enable you to work more efficiently, and you are less likely to feel snowed under.
- Write a list. This is a biggie. Not only is ticking things off devilishly satisfying, listing out your tasks focusses your mind so that you can get cracking with purpose. You’ll naturally build momentum as you work through your checklist and see progress being made. Also being proactive about planning in advance is the best way to make sure you’re prepared and avoiding any last-minute headaches.
- Set yourself a ‘zen’ time… And stick to it! When we’re really busy, the first thing that falls by the wayside is any semblance of routine. One way to help keep yourself in check is to allocate a time each day that is just for you, and use it to do whatever makes you feel at ease. It might be reading or going for a run. I like to watch the news headlines with my morning coffee – it activates my mind for the day ahead.