Archive for the ‘Managing Stress’ Category

Keep your goals visible

Monday, June 9th, 2014

You made a New Year’s resolution to set goals, and you’re doing it. Bravo! But are you doing it as effectively as possible?

Goals are only effective if you act on them, and you can’t act on them if you can’t see them. Too many people create a list of personal or professional goals, then sock it away in a drawer somewhere. Those goals are as good as dead. They will never happen.

Instead of filing them away, create a very visible place for those goals.

I have a friend who made her list of goals the screensaver on her computer. She sees them a hundred times a day, which means there’s a good chance she’ll achieve them. Laminate them and put them up in the shower. Stick them to your steering wheel. Whatever it takes to keep them front and center.

Organize your goals into separate lists according to timescale—goals for the week, for the month, and for life.

Don’t include everything. Life offers thousands of opportunities, but maybe ten of those will take you where you want to go. Don’t let those crucial ten get lost in a list a mile long. Focus on the ones that count, then post them where you’ll see them every single day.

Let down your defenses

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Picture yourself in a physical defensive crouch. You’re huddled close to the ground, eyes closed, hands clutched by your head. You’ve given up trying to move. Instead, you’re preparing for a beating, or to strike back.

Emotional defensiveness is just the same. The mental “crouch” paralyzes you. It keeps you from moving forward or growing.

Defensiveness often comes from a place of low self-esteem, which in turn creates a self-reinforcing downward spiral. Everyone around the defensive person walks on eggshells, including those who might otherwise try to help. Worst of all, the defensive person is fatally uncoachable, and therefore unpromotable.

So why are people defensive? People hear things through their filters. Based on their life experiences, if they feel unworthy, you can mention to them that the moon is beautiful last night and they’ll likely hear it as, “You were expecting the sun instead.” They hear it as yet another way you’re telling them they are inadequate.

If you become defensive in the face of criticism, it’s time to get a handle on it. Realize that someone offering advice is not attacking you, but critiquing your work in order to help you. Instead of pushing back with a “tone,” ask questions to get more information.

Let down that drawbridge, blow the doors off with your coachability, and there is NOTHING you can’t achieve.

Overwhelm

Monday, January 13th, 2014

A Princeton study shows that work is more overwhelming than ever—or at least that’s our perception. Three-quarters of the workers in the study said work is more stressful than it was a generation ago.

That’s certainly true in some ways. But overwhelm often has just as much to do with a conversation going in your head as with the real world. When you tell yourself, “I don’t even know where to start,” a feeling of helplessness sets in. Every task seems to be shouting your name.

STOP. There are priorities here. Take a deep breath and figure out what has to happen first, what can wait until later, and what doesn’t have to happen at all. Then take the things that need to be done first and sort them further. Are they all world-endingly important? Which items can have the deadline renegotiated without causing a problem? Which can be delegated?

Suddenly the priorities are standing in line, waiting patiently for their turn. What had seemed like a mountain is actually an orderly assembly line.

Finally, stop telling others how overwhelmed you are. That adds to everyone’s feeling of overwhelm, and it gives the tasks in your head permission to jump out of line again. They are not in charge—you are!

Once you step off the treadmill of overwhelm, you’ll NEVER go back.

Take NO Pride in Being Frazzled!

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

Far too many people in the workforce today wear their worn-out, run-down, bleary-eyed frazzle like a badge of honor, as if THAT’s the outcome that drives success.

It isn’t.

If you want to improve the quality of your work, boost your productivity and impress the boss, you won’t do it by showing your frayed edges at every opportunity. The key is to become a well-oiled machine, NOT an overheated engine. Only the first one is of any use in the long run.

I know what some of you are thinking: You can’t cut back. You are barely keeping everything together as it is. If you slow down, you’ll drop the ball. And you may be right. So the key isn’t to slow down—the key is to handle the speed better. And like a car running at high speed, that might mean doing a little maintenance.

First and foremost, take responsibility for your physical and emotional health. Get rest, eat right, and exercise. If you see a frazzled, sleep-deprived face in the mirror, consider it not as a badge of honor but a failure to maximize your abilities by taking proper care of yourself.

Second, every time you hear yourself proudly complaining about how worn out you are, STOP. Refuse to take pride in anything but results.

It takes some doing, since we’re so conditioned to relish our exhaustion. But once you do it and see your productivity and quality of life go through the roof, you’ll never go back to that tired old illusion again.

What if You HAD to Chillax?

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

Imagine that your doctor told you that your life depends on cutting your work time and effort in half. But you know you can’t afford to be any less productive. How would you do it?

This isn’t some wild hypothetical. Many people find themselves in this exact situation when a commitment to success results in high blood pressure, cardiovascular stress, and other serious physical side effects of working too much of the time in too high a gear. It can cut years off your life.

But when the physician sits these folks down, looks them in the eye and says, “You’ve GOT to cut back on your work, NOW,” they almost always say the same thing: “I can’t.”

What they mean, of course, is that they can’t drop any of the balls they are juggling. And you know what? They might be right. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing they can do.

If you are in this situation yourself, the answer is to learn everything you can about productivity. There are countless books on the topic, as well as websites, DVDs, and audiobooks. Pick whichever format works for you. Learn what it means to work smarter instead of harder. Learn how to put systems in place that will multiply your effectiveness. Learn how to get rid of drains on your time and effort that aren’t adding a THING to your productivity. You will be amazed with your capacity to improve.

So why wait for doctor’s orders? Stress isn’t good for anyone. Get busy NOW learning what productivity is really about.