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How to Become More Productive and Experience Less Stress

stress free productivity

Do you often feel like you are carrying the world on your shoulders?
Do you experience days where you feel you get nothing done?
Does meeting deadlines make you crazy?
Do you generally feel overwhelmed?

If you have answered yes to those questions, you seriously need to find ways to better organize yourself and the time available to you in your day. If you can find ways to accomplish what you need to in a timely fashion, you will experience less stress, higher productivity and have more time to enjoy a better work/life balance.

It is a good idea to start by analyzing your schedule to see just where you could make adjustments, maybe delegate some responsibilities to others or where prioritizing would be a better plan.

Many people make “to do” lists. That can be a good way to start, but can also be problematic… often the lists are too long and unrealistic, therefore will not be completed when planned. This causes great frustrations and can often create feelings of inadequacy and defeat. Ideally, lists should only have 4 or 5 items on them which are key to helping you accomplish your important goals for the week. Sometimes the lists are misplaced and that can really send you into a tizzy! So another option might be employed… synced calendars! (Read on…)

listsLists can be beneficial, but when you prioritize the items, it is more efficient to actually enter the key tasks that must be done day by day into your calendar so that you will get reminders to carry them out in the appropriate time frame. In this way you will be less likely to miss deadlines, keep to your timelines, and experience fewer disasters.

Having said that, life does happen, and even the best laid plans can go awry if an unexpected crisis crops up. “Man plans and God laughs!” For that reason, building in some flexibility when you create long term goals and the road maps to reach them, is also very important.

Break large projects up into smaller tasks so that it is easier to move toward their completion without feeling as if you do not have the resources or the time to fit in all the necessary aspects before your expected completion date. Creating manageable objectives that you can realistically accomplish will keep you positive and happy. In that frame of mind you will work more efficiently and increase your confidence in your ability to actually achieve your goal in the pre-determined time frame.

When you are focusing on a particular task, avoid distractions and multi-tasking habits, as they will likely cause you to make more mistakes or, at the very least, not do as good as job on the particular task at hand, perhaps requiring you to re-do it. This is not efficient and can also be rather frustrating. You are actually not well designed for multi-tasking as your brain takes 15-20 minutes to line up the necessary neurons (brain cells) to accomplish any given task at a high level of performance. Every time to you are distracted by another activity (text, email, phone call, conversation or any other interruption) you pull some of the required neurons away in order to line up others to address the other task. If you are seriously working on 3, 4, or even 5 things at once, honestly, none will be done well.

So set up your day in 20-30 minute intervals, or in some cases even an hour, to work specifically on a certain piece of work. Hold your calls, do not answer emails or texts, and tell your co-workers that you will not be available during that time and will return calls etc. when you have completed the identified priority that you have set out for the morning or afternoon. When you take a break, have a snack, hydrate, or even take a short walk, to clear your head and then you will be more ready to attack the next item on your list for the day.

procrastinationIf procrastination is your biggest obstacle in keeping yourself well managed, here are some tips for overcoming that problem:

1. Take action and resolve to get started, even if it is just one small step.
2. Write your goals down and post them in a prominent place where you can easily see them.
3. Develop a plan of action with a realistic schedule.
4. Establish an efficient routine for maintenance tasks, chores, etc. because they still have to be done.
5. Have the courage to make the decisions necessary to keep you moving forward toward your goals.
6. Remember that everything does not have to be perfect, well done is likely good enough in most cases.
7. Be sure to list exactly what has to be done day by day to reach your goal in the time frame required. Put those tasks into your calendar so that you will be reminded daily what has to be tackled and then when it comes up, do it!

Here is one more consideration…..we all have different circadian rhythms…in other words, some are morning people and do their best work early in the morning. Some are late morning or afternoon people, and feel most energized at that time of day. Finally, some are night people and do their best work into the night. You know who you are, so whenever possible, it is best to schedule your ‘high brain’ activities when you are at your sharpest.

RememberTime Management is actually a misnomer… you cannot manage time as it continues to march along, the only thing you can manage is yourself. So try to espouse some strategies, systems or structures that work for you and help you to organize your day so that it is more productive and efficient. If you can do that for yourself, you will feel less stressed, be happier, healthier, and actually more creative, all of which will make you more successful in all you do!

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