We know the facts. 365 days in a year. 24 hours in a day. 60 minutes in an hour. It’s the same for all of us. Have you ever noticed how some people seem to get a lot done while others seem to be overwhelmed and unable to answer an email in a timely manner?
We are all different. What stresses me, may not stress you. Stress often comes from feeling like we aren’t in control of the situation. That is so true. I can’t control how many emails I get every day from my colleagues. I can’t control other people’s schedules. I can’t control when my phone will ring.
In a recent conversation I had with Sara Reiff-Hekking, Ph.D., owner of True Focus Coaching, she discussed how the never-ending onslaught of information makes us feel out of control. “Whether it’s your smart phone, or your tablet, or your computer, or your smart watch, there are so many ways that information comes at us. We often feel like we can’t control that, or we are not allowed to control that.”
This constant bombardment of information leaves us stressed out and less productive than ever. Here’s what you need to know to take back control in 2019.
What causes you stress?
Understanding the triggers that cause you stress is an essential first step. Is it the daily email avalanche? Is it back-to-back meetings all day long? Is it the pressure to complete job tasks?
Participants in a research study were prompted at various points throughout the day to pause in the moment and acknowledge the sources of their stress. By acknowledging your triggers in the moment, you can begin to identify the root cause of your stress so you don’t get derailed by it.
Why you need to set boundaries
Technology, specifically smart phones, is one of the culprits behind our stress and resulting lack of productivity. True, technology gives us access to tools that simplify our lives and dramatically improve our productivity. But often this same easy access contributes to habits that consume significant amounts of time (think social media, gaming) with very little to show for it. Imagine what you could accomplish if you set aside your phone for a while and repurposed that time. What would it take to set a boundary around something that may be limiting your productivity?
How greater flexibility can help
Increasingly, organizations are taking employee work and personal life responsibilities into consideration by creating more flexible work arrangements. Granted, this may be harder to do in some industries, such as manufacturing or health care. When possible, identify how added flexibility in your workday can help you be less stressed and more productive. Small changes, such as taking a walk with colleagues at lunch or ending meetings earlier to avoid the rush to child care pick up, can help.
What better time than a new year to take back control of your work and your day? Try a few small steps this month and see what a difference it makes. Happy 2019!