I HATE STRESS! I think the worse part of stress is the fact that once you’re done stressing over something, the situation didn’t seem so bad in the first place. I’m an extremist and I tend to stress over the dumbest things, and here are just some techniques I use to get rid of all of the MADNESS in my life!
Identify Stressors: This is the most important step of all, as identifying the things that stress you out in your life is the first step towards eliminating them; take 10 minutes to think about what stresses you out during the day. What weekly occurrences stress you out? What people, activities, things cause stress in your life? Make a Top 10 list, and see which of them can be eliminated, and start to weed them out.
Procrastination: We all do this, of course. But allowing stuff to pile up will stress us out. Find ways to take care of stuff now (form a Do It Now habit) and keep your inbox and desk clear.
Disorganization: We’re all disorganized to some extent. Even if we’ve organized something, and created a great system for keeping it that way, things tend to move towards chaos over time. But disorganization stresses us out, in terms of visual clutter, and in making it difficult to find stuff we need. Take time to get things in your life organized, starting with your desk and the papers in your home, and moving on to other areas.
Late: Being late always stresses us out. We have to rush to get ready, rush to get there, and stress out the whole time about looking bad and being late. Learn the habit of being early, and this stress disappears. Make a conscious effort to start getting ready earlier, and to leave earlier. This also makes driving less stressful. Time yourself to see how long it actually takes to get ready, and how long it actually takes to get somewhere. You’ve probably been underestimating these times. Once you know these times, you can plan backwards so that you show up 10 minutes early each time. It’s a good feeling.
Controlling: We are not the Master of this Universe. I know we sometimes wish we were, but acting as if we are is a sure way to get stressed out. Trying to control situations and people cannot work, and only serves to increase our anxiety when it doesn’t work. Learn to let go, and accept the way that other people do things, and accept what happens in different situations. The only thing you can control is yourself — work on that before you consider trying to control the world. Also learn to separate yourself from tasks and to delegate them. Learning to let go of our need to control others and the situations around us is a major step towards eliminating stress.
Multitasking: Having multiple tasks going on at the same time might seem productive, but in actuality it slows us down from actually focusing on a task and completing it — and it stresses us out in the meantime. Learn to single-task.
Eliminate Energy Drains: If you’ve analyzed your life (in Step 1) and found things that stress you out, you might have also noticed things that drain your energy. Certain things in our life just cause us to be more exhausted than others, with less value. Identify them, and cut them out. You’ll have much more energy and much less stress. Happiness ensues.
Avoid Difficult people: You know who they are. If you take a minute to think about it, you can identify all the people in your life — bosses, coworkers, customers, friends, family, etc. — who make your life more difficult. Now, you could confront them and do battle with them, but that will most certainly be difficult. Just cut them out of your life.
Simplify Life: Simplifying, of course, is a major theme of Zen Habits. Simplify your routines, your commitments, your information intake, your cluttered rooms, the mass of stuff going on in your life … and have less stress as a result.
Unschedule: Create more open periods of time in your life. It’s not necessary to schedule every minute of our lives. Learn to avoid meetings, keep wide open blocks of time where we either work on our important tasks or batch process the smaller ones. When someone asks to schedule a meeting, first try to get it done through email or phone … if that doesn’t work, avoid having it scheduled. Ask them to call you and see if you’re free at that time. You will love having an open schedule.
Slow Down: Instead of rushing through life, learn to take things slow. Enjoy your food, enjoy the people around you, enjoy nature. This step alone can save tons of stress.
Help Others: It may sound contradictory to add more tasks to your life by trying to help other people (you’ve got enough to do), but if you were to add anything to your life, this should be it. Helping others, whether volunteering for a charity organization or just making an effort to be compassionate towards people you meet, not only gives you a very good feeling, it somehow lowers your stress level. Of course, this doesn’t work if you try to control others, or help others in a very rushed and frenetic way — learn to take it easy, enjoy yourself, and let things happen, as you work to make the lives of others better.
Relax Throughout The Day: It’s important to take mini-breaks during your work day. Stop what you’re doing, massage your shoulders and neck and head and hands and arms, get up and stretch, walk around, drink some water. Go outside and appreciate the fresh air and the beautiful sky. Talk to someone you like. Life doesn’t have to be all about productivity. You should also avoid using online activity too much as your de-stressing activity — get away from the computer to relax.
Quit Work: This one’s drastic, and probably too drastic for most. But in most likelihood, your work is your absolute biggest stressor. Getting out of your 9-to-5, automating your income, and finding something you truly love to do, that you’re passionate about, will create a positive life and much less stressful one at that. Give it a little thought before dismissing it — there might be possibilities here you haven’t considered.
Simplify Your To-Do List: I’ve written about this before, but attempting to do everything on your long to-do list will definitely stress you out. Learn to simplify your to-do list down to the few essential tasks, and you will enjoy the process much more.
Exercise: This is common advice for stress relief, and that’s because it works … but it’s also a stress prevention method. Exercising helps relieve the stress buildup, it gives you some quiet time to contemplate and relax, and just as importantly, it makes you more fit. A fitter person is better equipped to handle stress. Another important factor: being unhealthy can be a major stressor (especially once you have to go to the hospital), and exercise can help prevent that.
Eat Healthy: This goes hand-in-hand with exercise as a stress prevention method, of course. Become healthier and a major source of stress will disappear. Also, I’ve found that greasy food, for me, puts me in a worse mood and can contribute to stress levels immediately.
Be Grateful: This might not be as obvious as some of the others, but developing an attitude of gratitude (I sound like a preacher with that rhyme!) is a way of thinking positive, eliminating negative thinking from your life, and thereby reducing stress. Learn to be grateful for what you have, for the people in your life, and see it as a gift. With this sort of outlook on life, stress will go down and happiness will go up. That’s a winning formula.
Zen-like Environment: Take time to declutter your desk (as mentioned above) and even once you do that, continually edit your desk and working space, and the things in your home, until you’ve created a simple, peaceful, Zen-like environment. It will be much less stressful to work in an environment like that than a more cluttered and distracting one.
PRAY: I cannot stress enough how importatnt this exercise is, sometimes it’s as easy as talking to GOD…trust me…he’ll calm you down and sho you the way!
Time Management is perhaps one of the most important tasks that an entrepreneur must learn when starting your own business. These are my favorite TOP 10 time management tips that I’ve learned from a fellow blogger Deborah Sullivan…you can read more of her articles on her Lifestyle Success Newsletter, see this article & more of them at: www.selfgrowth.com
Go from NOT valuing your time to VALUING your time
This is an important change to make and when it happens you will never waste another minute! In a dollar sense – this means you are comfortable charging for your lifetime of knowledge and experience – don’t allow clients to take this for granted. You have invested a lot of time and energy. In life, we only get one chance with our time – we can not go back and use the last 10 seconds!
Get the most out of your day
Every now and then ask yourself: Am I making the best use of my time? If not, stop what you are doing and begin working on a project that will allow you better use of your time. If you are ‘bogged down’ with a specific situation, get up and go for a walk and then come back and tackle it.
Work with goals in mind
Its amazing how differently we work when you have goals to work towards. If you don’t know what your goals are, spend sometime working out what they may be. Use them as a road map! Examples may be professional (project deadline, sales quotas, career advancement, etc) and personal (health, fitness, family relationship, financial, etc).
Handle every piece of paper or e-mail only once
With paper use the ‘3 D’ rule of Do it, Dump it or Delegate it. Never handle a piece of paper twice. Don’t even think of placing it in your ‘to get to’ pile – Handle it NOW! As for e-mails the same rule can apply so you either action it, delete it or forward it to some-one else. If you print a copy then use the ‘3 D’ rule.
Ask some-one who is efficient – what their secret is
Ask the most efficient person you know what their secret is and how did they develop these habits. Then see if it will work for you.
Don’t allow anyone to take your time from you
Set up boundaries around your time. If you are stopped in the hall for a conversation, ask for this person to arrange a meeting with you (if appropriate); don’t allow co-workers to infringe on your home time; if someone is late for an appointment and haven’t contacted you – give them 15 minutes past the appointed time and then move on. It is up to you as to how you allow other people to use your time!
Build family and personal time into your day
We all need to have the support of our family or friends – so make sure you build them into your daily habits. You don’t want to finish your career and realise that you missed out on the closeness and development of your family.
Your health is important – isn’t it!
Maintain your health and fitness because this is what will help you through in the long run. There are three things that I feel are valuable to us all- they are time [which we are talking about]; knowledge and energy. Take care of your energy and its levels. At the end of the day being overworked and stressed is only going to hamper your health. So take extra care of this – go for a walk, have a massage, spend time with your family, stop and smell the roses or book in for your yearly medical check up.
Dry clean the clutter from your office and home
Take some time to remove the clutter from your life. The more you simplifier your office or life the more time you will have. Clutter zaps your energy and allows you to waste time on non-valuable tasks. So plug the holes today.
Work in your peak performance times
Schedule demanding tasks to the part of the day that you work best, where your energy levels are at their highest. It maybe first thing in the morning or early afternoon – work out when it is and then see yourself moving ahead.
1 – Create A TO DO LIST: create a to do list with both urgent and non-urgent items (tasks); update it throughout the day so that don’t forget anything; keep a copy on your BLACKBERRY or iPhone so that you can always keep it with you to update…
2 – Allocate Your Time: once you create your list, allocate a specific amount of time to complete each task, as well as a due date for completion…
3 – Set & Respect Your Deadlines: once your deadlines are set, work very hard to meet them; by respecting your deadlines, you make your life more efficient, and you avoid those frantic last minute rushes to complete your tasks…
4 – Use Your Time Wisely: reading e-mails and returning calls, and listening to voicemails can eat up a HUGE amount of your time; so allocate specific times to do BOTH; this allows you to be locked in with no distractions when it’s time to work…
5 – Meet Only When Needed: unnecessary meetings waste ALOT of time; if possible, cale down your meeting time only when needed; when planned carefully, sometimes three or four meetings can be compiled into one…
6 – STOP Procrastinating: it’s only natural to want to put off unpleasant tasks until later on-we all do it, the trick is to schedule the most difficult tasks during the day early when you have the most energy…
7 – REWARD Yourself: time management is as much about play as it is about work; please allow time in your schedule when you can sit down and FINALLY charge that damn cell phone; once your tasks are accomplished, reward yourself for a job well done…