Method 1: Manage Your Stressors
Weekly or monthly assessments of your personal life can help you pinpoint potential ways to improve your life. First, find what stresses you the most on a regular basis.
Set your timer for five minutes and write down as many stressors in your life as possible – no matter how small or big they are. Write down both your pet peeves and challenges that have been stressing you out lately.
Now that you have your list, identify which are the most stressful. The 80/20 rule says that 80% of the outputs come from 20% of the inputs. When applied stressors, 20% of the stressors bring 80% of the stress. Reorder your list to start with the most powerful stressors. Then come up with ideas to reduce or eliminate the first five problems.
If it’s a person and his or her behavior, communicate how it makes you feel and what you can both do about it to help each other.
If it’s a specific part of your environment (noisy neighbors), either find a way to put an end to it (ask them to be more considerate of their neighbors), or, if you can’t change it and it’s a powerful stressor, move out (obviously it’s not an easy decision, but worth considering if stress poisons your life).
If it’s a certain errand (like waiting in a line when shopping), consider delegating it to someone else. Nobody said you have to do everything. If you aren’t sure which stressors are the most powerful, ask yourself which stressor you’d like to eliminate from your life if you had a magic wand. Reorder your list one by one, asking yourself the same question after eliminating each stressor.
You can also give yourself a score from 0 to 10, 0 meaning extremely stressed out and 10 meaning perfect calmness and ask yourself what needs to change to improve your score. Sometimes one simple change can take you from4 to 7.Making such a list will help you prepare an actionable plan to reduce stress in your life.
Method 2: Do It Now
Procrastination is not only bad for your productivity, but also for your mental health. Studies show that it’s associated with lower self-compassion and higher stress
Putting things off is like preferring to avoid short-term pain now in exchange for even bigger pain later. You prefer not to get your teeth checked today in exchange for excruciating tooth pain several months from now. When putting this way, it’s irrational to engage in this behavior, yet it’s still a huge struggle for many people to stop putting things off. There are several ways to get rid of this habit and create a habit of doing everything now.
1. Ask yourself if the tasks you’re postponing are essential at all. It’s like you have a tendency to put off tasks that are irrelevant and nothing bad would happen if you did not do them. The problem does not necessarily have to lie in postponing – it’s just a case of trying to do too much.
2. Break down your tasks into smaller parts. If it takes you two or more hours to perform a specific task, break it down into four or more smaller tasks. It will sound less overwhelming, so you should feel less resistance. A variation of this approach is to ask yourself if you can do something just for the next minute or two. Once the time is up, ask yourself if you can do it a foranother minute or two. Soon, you’ll get engaged in your task and keep going.
A time management method
that suggests breaking down work into 25-minute sessions separated by short 5-minute breaks. If I have a job to do, I use pomodoros to make the task much less overwhelming. It also helps deal with distractions, because every 25 minutes you’re allowed to indulge for 5 minutes. Short sprints work much better than long marathons.
3. Change your feelings about procrastination by making it much more painful to put things off. As painful as putting things off can be, it’s not painful enough if you’re still doing it. What if you punished yourself each time you did not complete a certain task on time? Would not it put enough pressure on you to start now rather than postpone it for later?
Method 3 : Show Up Early
Being late, especially for an important meeting, is one of the most stressful events that can happen on a regular basis in your life. Things happen, and it’s not always your fault you’re late. However, it doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do about it.
What if every single time you mentally switched the time of the meeting five to ten minutes earlier? Even if you were running late, five to ten minutes should be enough to cover you.
If you’re afraid you’ll waste your time by arriving earlier, always have some small tasks set aside for periods of waiting. Five minutes is enough to reply to a few short emails, make a list of things to do for the next day, make a quick call or do any other type of brief activity that doesn’t require more than a few minutes at most.
Method 3: Single-Task and Focus
Research conducted at Stanford University shows that multitasking is lessproductive than doing things one at a time. Moreover, distracted people can’t payfull attention, recall information, or choose the next task.
As one of the researchers said, “They [multi-taskers] couldn’t help thinkingabout the task they weren’t doing. The high multitaskers are always drawingfrom all the information in front of them. They can’t keep things separate in theirminds.”
Guess how calm and in control you feel if you can’t even keep your thoughtsseparate.
British psychologist Glenn Wilson conducted a survey of around 1000 HPworkers on the negative effects of “infomania,”.
His findings show that technological distraction diminishes IQ by10 points. Moreover, distraction dramatically increases stress – from self-reported 2.75 on a 0-10 scale to 5.5 for males and 4.75 to 6.75 for females.
Learn to take tasks one by one and avoid distractions. Silence your phone, logoff social media sites and focus on the task at hand. You’ll gain more clarity,perform the tasks more quickly and with less stress.
If productivity and a clearer mind still don’t persuade you to start single-tasking, think about your friends and family. If you multitask around them, younever give them your full attention. How would you feel if you always had onlyhalf of someone’s attention?
Method 4: Have an Open Schedule
“I’m so busy,” “Let me see if I can fit you in my calendar,” “Call me later andI’ll see if I can make it” are all common responses when trying to hang out with someone spontaneously.
What happened to unplanned meetings? Where’s “Sure, when?” Why is it so hard to get people to commit to a meeting? Have you ever felt like a prisoner of your schedule? If so, it’s high time to regain control over this aspect of your life and open up your schedule. Go back to the times when you didn’t have such a restrictive schedule. Weren’t you more relaxed? Didn’t you enjoy the time spent with friends more?
You’ll say, “Yes, but it was different then. I’m an adult now, I have too many obligations.” I say, it all depends on you. It’s not like there’s someone who controls your schedule and tells you to book your entire day.Why not schedule (what an irony) at least one or two hours each day for spontaneous activities? Could you loosen up your day so that you’ll have more flexibility to spend time with other people?
As long as you’re not a planning freak, opening up your schedule will reduce the tension in your life and make you feel more in control of it.
Method 5 : Let Go of Control
We give ourselves a lot of unnecessary stress by being control freaks. If you constantly obsess over controlling every single aspect of your life, you take stress with you wherever you go – just like the nagging, negative thoughts.
Giving away control is a skill you can master by gradually letting go of it. Start with something simple. Let someone else clean your home for you. Stay silent and don’t tell this person she’s doing it the wrong way. Delegate a simple task at work to a colleague and don’t comment on how she’s doing it. Ideally, don’t watch how this person is performing the task – just accept the results no matter how they were achieved.
To open your mind, seek different approaches to doing things. Observe how others do things and try to learn from them. Listen instead of giving orders. Work with people instead of telling them what to do.
Relinquishing control can be a great way to reduce stress, free up your schedule, and enjoy your life more – knowing that others will take care of the things just as well, if not better, than you.