Millions of people are feeling stress and anxiety, and are overwhelmed by increasing responsibilities at work and home. Stress anxiety is compounded when family responsibilities must be faced after a stressed out work day. It’s no wonder so many people are anxious to find stress reduction cures and stress relievers.
Stress and anxiety are normal reactions to internal or external forces that take people beyond their normal comfort levels. Stress can result from simply too much to do, or the anxiety of a values conflict.
Overworked, Overwhelmed and Stressed Out
The potential for being overworked, overwhelmed , and stressed out is very high in today’s do-it-all, have-it-all culture. Many believe the cure for stress and anxiety is to work more efficiently. Multitasking is a favorite strategy, yet researchers have proved when we multi-task we actually accomplish less and with lowered quality. Multi-tasking is not a stress reliever. It’s more likely that the answer to too much to do is doing only the important tasks and doing them one at a time. Here’s how…
Six Stress Management Keys
These six keys to stress reduction from overwhelming work will help you get back your work life balance.
- Identify: Work day tasks can overwhelm when viewed at the end of the day or week, but lend themselves to rational analysis when captured on paper. For one week, keep a log of each task and how long you spent on it. Don’t forget to log activities such as interruptions from co-workers, coffee breaks, checking email and weather reports, office gossiping, and other sidetracking events. You’ll know that you captured nearly everything if your logs account for your normal work day.
- Analyze: Now analyze your week’s worth of data with a detached and critical eye, think like an IRS auditor going over your tax return. The goal of this step is to find time-wasters, those activities that don’t contribute to successful completion of your job. Use the 80/20 rule. If you’re a sales person, look for the 20% of your tasks or customers providing 80% of your sales. If a writer, determine the activities that generate 80% of your output.
- Prioritize: Identify the tasks most critical to performing your main job function and look back over your log. Was most of your time spent on these critical tasks? If not, it’s time to ruthlessly pare your activities. If the offending activities come from your boss, it’s time to ask for a priority list of your responsibilities. Don’t accept “they’re all equally important.”
- Stay on task: Research studies show that our brains are built to do one thing at a time. Each time we’re interrupted, we lose time, focus, and quality in going back and forth between tasks. As complexity increases, the problem worsens. Jealously guard your ability to stay on task. Discipline yourself to check email and phone messages once or twice a day at set times. Ask your co-workers to honor no-interruption times of the day. Let them know you’ll respond to email and voicemail at set times and then follow through so they know they can count on you.
- Automate: Each important but routine activity is a candidate for automation. For example, develop form letter responses to your routine communications. If you can’t automate, develop an efficient routine and always follow it.
Outsource: Don’t assume that you must continue to do everything yourself. Evaluate each task and responsibility for an opportunity to delegate, assign, convince, or hire someone else to do it. Be creative. Remember that your goal here is to reduce your workload and the resulting stress anxiety.
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