Monday, June 11, 2012

6 Top Ways to Minimize your Stress at Work

We all face stress at work, if not also in our personal lives.  And, truth be told, that isn't going to change.  Some moments are more stress-filled than others, but stress is pretty much a given. Although we have heard about the differences between 'good' stress (Eustress) versus 'bad' stress (Distress), most of us could likely agree on the fact that we generally could do with less of it in our lives.

The following is a list of 6 key methods for reducing your on-the-job stress levels, though each could likely have a role to play in decreasing your stress outside of work as well!

1.  Learn to say No!  

Studies have shown significantly higher levels of stress in Managers who experience difficulty in saying 'no' more readily to others.  In this case we are our own worst enemy.  Our inability to say no leads us to take on more and more projects and tasks, until we are over-burdened, over-tasked, over-worked.  Bear in mind that saying No to someone may not mean that you are refusing to help them... Ever!... but simply that you are saying 'not right now'.  Just because they may have something that is a priority to them doesn't mean you need make it one of yours.

2.  Delegation.  

I'm all for being a DIYer (do-it-yourselfer) in the home... IF you derive pleasure and satisfaction from the doing.  If you simply derive satisfaction from having it done... hire someone else!  This DIY mentality carries over into the workplace where we also somehow feel that we need to take care of it ourselves to gain credit for it.  Trust me...  it only matters that it gets done.  Your facilitation of that process is all that counts.  Learning to delegate more allows you the time you need to take on more senior responsibilities, to have more time to plan and think pro-actively and strategically, all of which will serve you better in the long run.  In short...  you have to learn to 'give up' to 'move up'!

3.  Procrastination.  

Despite the belief you have created to justify your behaviour, research shows that NO you do NOT do your best work when under the gun.  Yes, you may finally get it done at the last minute, but that does not mean that it will be your best work.  Starting early provides you with more time to think and reflect on the process and steps, providing you with the opportunity to refine along the way, an option that would not be possible when in the midst of a time crunch.  If you know you are unlikely to heed this nugget and mend your procrastinating ways... then consider breaking your task down into smaller chunks and creating arbitrary deadlines for each along the way.  You will work to those imposed deadlines (last minute) but still find yourself ahead at the end.

4.  Criticism.  

Although we can't eliminate the amount, type and nature of the criticism we receive from others, we can reduce the stress impact of the criticism by managing our reaction to it.  Instead of internalizing and personalizing the criticism, dissect it instead.  Go on a hunt to find the one kernel of meaningful truth contained within it that will help you to improve, then toss the rest away.  you don't have enough mental cupboard space to house it all, so identify the piece worth saving and purge the rest.

5.  Be Proactive.  

The more you prepare, the less you have to repair.  Most time management experts agree that the preparation to execution saved ration is roughly 1:3.  Meaning, 10 minutes of preparation time will save you 30 minutes of execution time.  If you are looking to find more 'time' in your work day, start by spending a little more upfront time planning your execution of a task before taking action.  It might feel as though it is slowing the process down, but research shows us that you are significantly reducing the effort you need to expend on the back end.

6.  Play to your Strengths.  

High levels of stress are generally found in those that are working predominantly in areas outside of their strengths.  We often get so caught up in the perceived need to be 'better' at those areas we are weakest in that we overlook the fact that it is our strengths we enjoy using the most and in which we typically add the greatest level of value.  Playing to your talents means you are likely engaged in work that is stimulating and enjoyable (you're more productive then too) and that is less stressful because of it.  Sure... develop your weaknesses where it matters, but build your role and career around your strengths.  This is where your purpose is.  Find it and use it for great satisfaction.

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