Business Productivity

3 stress triggers that are killing your productivity (and 8 things you can do about them)

- October 12, 2016 3 MIN READ

Stress – it’s a feeling none of us can avoid completely. The most well planned day can implode in minutes when stress takes over our mindset and productivity sails out the window. As a soloist – losing an entire day to stress is often a cost you simply don’t have time for and finding ways to manage your stress triggers and even prevent stress is imperative.

According to Deepak Chopra, renowned health and wellbeing expert, three factors generally lie behind stress triggers:

  1. Repetition
  2. Unpredictability
  3. Lack of control

For example: A phone that continues to ring, the dog outside your office barking, a drill down the road at the construction site, emails building up that need your answers and those anxious feelings building inside you as you wait for a freelancer to return work as a deadline approaches.

All of these everyday occurrences can cause you to feel stress and, in due course, a lack of your productivity as your focus is lost. Once stress sets in, the normal reactions you can expect to feel are:

  • Overwhelm
  • Inability to focus on one task
  • Restlessness
  • A general feeling of anxiety.

Sound familiar?

With these feelings filling your head it’s amazing how quickly you forget that you have choices. You lose the ability to look beyond the stress triggers slapping you in the face to see the techniques and tools you have at your fingertips to resolve it.

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There are many mindset techniques, including the very popular meditation, to calm your mind and step out of the feelings of stress but there are also proactive steps you can take to regain your equilibrium and start feeling productive again. Here are just a few that can help you when you’re feeling stressed and also to prevent it from coming into your day at all.

  1. Take a moment to decrease any background noises around you – turn off radios, remove yourself from irritable, loud rooms and if possible play music to block out all distraction. I find classical or instrumental music best for this (but my husband plays some kind of raging heavy metal). To each their own!
  2. Clear your workspace – remove dirty cups/ rubbish etc. Create a clean surface that only holds the items you need to complete your work.
  3. Pick up your phone, switch it to silent and turn it face down on the desk so as not to distract you. Unless you work in a call center, people will survive at least an hour without talking to you while you get your work done.
  4. Stop beating yourself up for feeling this way and take steps to regain control. Guilt or self-pity at feeling overwhelmed is not productive and won’t make you feel better.
  5. Make a complete list of everything that is wrong/needs to get done – go through your messages, emails, notepads and digital lists. You’re trying to create a complete list (however long) of what needs to be done. This full list will give you back your feeling of control. Once you have it, prioritise it and see what can be delegated.
  6. Avoid multitasking – pick one task and complete it and don’t start on the next one until that first task is done. If you’ve prioritised what you need to get done this is easier.
  7. If you’re waiting on something from someone else, call them. Get an answer to when you will have it/it will be done. Even if you find out your deadline is going to be missed, knowing the answer is better than not knowing as you are now able to react.
  8. Do the task you have been putting off for days/weeks – it’s probably an annoying, small but necessary task. Get it ticked off and out of your mental to-do list.

 What’s your best technique for overcoming the feelings of stress?