How to Boost Productivity—Without Boosting Stress
By Rick Goodman
Productivity and stress aren’t necessarily two sides of the same coin, but they do go hand in hand, much more often than any of us would like. When you agonize over all the things you have to do, and make changes to your daily rhythms to help you accomplish more, it can take its toll on you; it can make you feel more anxious, more easily depleted. And that, in turn, reduces your productivity—a nasty cycle!
But is it possible to add to your productivity without compounding your stress? I think so, and I think it all comes down to eliminating unnecessary things from your life—tasks or obligations that only add to your workload without actually leading to meaningful achievement.
Let me show you what I mean with a few quick examples.
Be Productive Without Being Stressed
Set aside a few hours each morning to just do work. Make it as early as you need to, but when you have this work time, turn off all desktop and phone notifications. In fact, you might want to go into Do Not Disturb mode. Ignore your inbox and your email just for an hour or two, and let yourself get stuff done without interruption.
Set office hours. Similarly, set aside a couple of hours each day where your door is open and you’re available for any questions or discussions your staff members need to present you with. Encourage them to take advantage of this time, and hopefully reduce interruption during other parts of the day.
Allow yourself a Do Not Disturb buffer. Speaking of which, allow some time when you can be free of any incoming calls, emails, or texts. Set your phone for a recurring Do Not Disturb window, maybe from 9 in the evening until 8 the next morning. Use that time to be with your family, to invest in hobbies, or just to rest.
Set alarms for recurring meetings and daily wake-up times. Don’t fret about remembering standing appointments; let your phone do that for you.
Use an email management tool to cut out spam. Keep your phone from dinging around the clock with unwanted messages. Use a program like Unroll.me to achieve inbox Zen.
Learn how to say no. Don’t hesitate to decline those things you’re asked to do, but you know will cause more stress than they are worth.
Productivity doesn’t have to breed stress. Follow these tips to give yourself the peace of mind you need to really get things done.