4 Steps to Less Work Stress

Deidre Paknad  ::  Leader Development

Stress vs Relaxed

Work stresses people out — fear of failing, pressure to achieve, having to rely on others for our own success, overload, self-doubt and more... In fact, one million Americans call in sick over stress every day and 25% say work is the most stressful thing in their lives.

These 4 tips can help you achieve more success and keep your balance, even when things get stressful!

1. Organize

Increase your odds of achieving your goals by 64% and eliminate stress by writing down what you need to do to achieve your goals. If you manage a team, ask for transparency on what each team member is doing, where their attention is focused and what their progress is. If you don’t have a tool to see progress on actions and goals yourself, do daily meetings with the team to make sure everyone is aligned on the best use of their time. With more clarity and transparency, you’ll stop worrying about what isn’t getting done, and have more time to work on what matters!

2. Prioritize

Not everything on your list or the team’s can get done. Sometimes, it shouldn’t! Ruthlessly prioritize where your time and your team’s should go every morning. Spend your energy on work that ties clearly and directly to your team’s goals and metrics… in other words, those things that actually move the needle for you and your boss. Using the matrix below can help distinguish what matters and make it easier to stop expending energy stressing about the rest.

3. Revitalize

When you’re most busy and stressed out, it’s tempting to sacrifice exercise and other healthy habits — don’t. Did you know 20 minutes of exercise several days a week improves your happiness and productivity every day of the week! So set aside time even if it’s indoor yoga, stretching or working your own stairwell — it’ll be time well spent!

4. Tranquilize

When you find your anxiety or anger rising, it’s better to take a break. A short walk or standing, stretching and take a few deep breaths can help you get back on track. Try a few “compassion breaths” to relax and lighten your perceived load:

  • Focus your attention on the sensation of anger, anxiety or stress – is it anxiety about lack of time, fear of failing or forgetting something critical, worry about achieving key milestones?
  • Rather than shifting away from the sensation, hold it in your attention.
  • Now think about all the millions of people in the world you don’t know that have that same anxiety or worry.
  • Take a long inhale, imaging that you are breathing in the collective anxiety, anger or stress of those millions of people.
  • Exhale, imaging that you are breathing out calm, peace, success or the antidote to those worries to all who experience it, including yourself.
  • Repeat three times, deepening your breath and holding it in longer each time and being more genuine in the compassion you convey with each out breath.

At the end, your sense of being alone with pressure will be replaced with more compassion for yourself and others — and your load will be lighter.

It’s always a great time to develop new habits:

  • Set and share clear goals aligned with organization objectives
  • Allocate your efforts to achieving your goals above all else
  • Ensure you have the capacity to achieve goals operationally, emotionally, and physically

Apps like WorkBoard keep your effort and the team’s closely aligned to your goals and save a ton of time, which improves execution and lowers stress all year long. To improve your physical capacity to succeed, read Gretchen Reynold’s book, "The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer." With more professional and personal capacity, you’ll feel and do great!

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