When your stress boils over into the zones of imbalance or unhealthy stress your mind, body, and spirit cease to function at peak performance. And your productivity at work suffers (which adds to your stress).
Maybe you’re trying to meet increased demands at work with fewer resources. Or maybe you’re worried about a parenting challenge that has you feeling discouraged and lacking knowledge about what to do. You fille the blank: I’m stressed because ______________________.
Whatever the cause, extreme or chronic stress zaps you of the mental, physical, and emotional energy you need to get your work completed on time and under budget.
You can’t always control your stress levels, but you can positively impact your response. The following 10 strategies help maintain or increase productivity.
1. Break tasks into smaller, more manageable pieces.
Sometimes tasks are challenging because you don’t know where to start or they feel overwhelming with all the to-dos. Breaking the task into smaller pieces allows you to get started and provides motivation to continue as you check the smaller tasks off your list.
2. Take deep breaths to engage your brain.
Deep breaths provide extra oxygen to your brain which can help you troubleshoot challenges or look at tasks from a different perspective.
3. Take a break to drink water and move your body.
Water and physical activity increase your energy and help you separate momentarily from the task so you resume your work with a fresh viewpoint.
4. Review past successes from similar tasks.
Recalling successes you’ve had with similar tasks boosts your confidence which decreases stress. Tell yourself, “I’ve got this.”
5. Ask for help.
As a high achiever, you take pride in being able to complete tasks on your own. Consider this, however: asking for some help from others can be a sign of strength. “Two heads are better than one” and “many hands make light work.” Clichés aside, with assistance you can increase efficiency and effectiveness which is a win for the team.
6. Offer help to others.
Your act of kindness releases good hormones in your brain which energize you, increase confidence, and reduce stress. It also builds goodwill for managing stressful circumstances in the future.
7. Manage expectations without guilt.
Pause to think about what reasonable and acceptable progress looks like. You can easily take on too much wanting to meet others’ needs. Next thing you know, you’re feeling guilty for not meeting expectations (your own and others’) such as deadlines. Manage your own expectations by acknowledging your workload and asking if you should reprioritize tasks or due dates.
8. Say “No.”
You can’t be everything to all people. And neither can anyone else. Show yourself some compassion just like you would offer a friend. When you’re stressed, it’s OK to turn down a request without a lot of explanation. If you must, suggest an alternative solution to decrease your stress.
9. Batch your work.
Gather like tasks and complete them at the same time to take advantage of your mind being in the zone and working more efficiently. For example, consistently block out time to complete planning or writing activities.
10. Celebrate small wins.
For motivation and increased energy, take a few moments by yourself or as a group to acknowledge the progress you’ve already achieved. Expressing gratitude for others’ support generates happiness.
11. Recover After a Sprint
Plan to recover after a period of high work demands or family responsibilities. Just like an athlete plans recovery time after workouts, build in time so that you can catch up on other tasks and give your mind, body, and spirit some TLC.
You can mitigate the negative impact of stress on your work productivity. Which of these strategies have you had success with in the past? Is there a new one that you’d like to try?
Let me know in the comments how you increase productivity at work when you’re stressed.