We all go through more stressful and less stressful times of the year. In those more stressful times, it’s so important we’re able to specifically identify what’s causing us stress, rather than blaming “work in general”. Below, we’ve explored some of the most common causes of stress, based on what we’ve been hearing in our time management training. Along with exploring those stress areas, we, of course, also suggest some solutions. It wouldn’t be a Productivity Ninja blog post, without some solutions, eh?!? So, let’s dive right into it…
1) Looming Deadlines
The work never ends. Even if you manage to meet your first set of deadlines, there will be new projects and more deadlines on the horizon. If we don’t find a way to manage our time and attention, we are more likely to increasingly feel stressed. And let’s face it, we don’t just leave the thought of deadlines at the office, they very often follow us home. That’s how we find ourselves thinking about work at 10pm, when what we should actually be doing, is switch off and relax.
One way to make sure you can switch off after work, is relying on a system which will keep you on track and remind you of your main priorities. The Weekly Checklist, which is mentioned in our productivity training and the best-selling Productivity Ninja book, gives you that space to take a step back, review and assess your progress and next steps. Once you introduce the weekly review to your routine, you’ll be able to rely on that weekly slot where you can plan ahead and look back, making sure everything is on track and react if anything’s falling behind.
2) An Overflowing Inbox
Just thinking about the number currently flashing next to your inbox, might already get your heartbeat speed up. In our time management workshops, we often hear people determining stress factors connected to email etiquette and their inboxes in general. Naturally, that’s where we’d recommend our email training, but there are also some quick-wins you can implement straight away…
If even thinking about opening your work emails is already causing you stress, it’s definitely not the best way to start your day at work. It has become a habit to arrive at work, fire up your computer and immediately check your emails. That’s exactly how our inbox becomes our default to-do list, which it is not. Read through this blog post, and tomorrow, when you get to work, try one of the alternative ways to start your day outside of your inbox.
Once you’ve implemented your new morning routine, you can start reviewing how you use email in general and look at improving your own email etiquette and how you can start processing your emails rather than checking them.
3) Non-Stop Meetings
When was the last time you had a day without any meetings? Chances are, it was a long time ago but it was a glorious day for your productivity. When our calendars are filled up with back to back meetings, it can be difficult to find the time to actually get work done. Which, in return, will just add to our every day stress.
Before accepting the next meeting invitation, ask yourself:
- Is the topic of conversation important and timely?
- Can you, personally, add value?
- Is progress going to be made or is this merely to catch up?
Only when you’re clear on the agenda and outcomes, should you respond to the invitation. It’s become a bit of a default to just accept any meeting invite in your inbox. From now on, take a step back and really think about whether you should accept, say no to the invite or whether it should be a meeting for everyone involved in the first place. Don’t shy away from suggesting alternatives to meetings. Chances are, everyone else will have a just as busy calendar as you have and, therefore will be happy to see some of those catch up meetings disappear.
By Hannah Urbanek
Hannah is Think Productive UK’s Head of Marketing and the voice behind much of our global social media and editorial content. You can connect with Think Productive North America directly here or with Barbara Green, TPNA President, on LinkedIn.