Work-at-home Stress

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Working for “Me Time”: Time Management Strategies for Reducing Stress

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of getting everything on your list finished, so that you can finally take some time off. The problem is that most of the time we don’t take the time to rest that we should. Instead, we rush into the next thing because, after all, a woman’s work is never really done, is it?  Because of this, our “me time” usually gets pushed into the background, and instead of our time management strategies helping to reduce stress, they actually create more.

It doesn’t have to be that way!

There are ways to use time management techniques to relieve stress, get everything done that you need to in a day, and still have time for yourself at the end of it!

1. Check your schedule

When you have a lot on your plate, it’s easy to get stressed about getting everything done. Knowing what causes you to feel stressed can go a long way toward helping you get relief from it.

One of the first things to do when you are feeling overwhelmed about your workload is to good, hard look at your schedule. Are you making the best use of your time?

Sometimes we work when we should be relaxing, and we relax when we should be working. If you find this is happening for you more often than it should, you should take some time to rework your schedule so that you are working at your peak productive times.

One of the advantages of being an entrepreneur is that you can set your own hours. Take advantage of that and arrange your schedule so that you get the best results from your working hours. You’ll get more done and have time for yourself at the end of the day.

2. Schedule your “me time” in the mornings

It’s nice to have some alone time at the end of your working day, but did you know that by starting your day with “me time” can lead to less stress, and more productivity?

Plan to wake up even thirty minutes earlier than everyone else in your house, and use that time to start your day on your own terms. Meditate, read, do some light exercise, or just enjoy that first cup of coffee in complete silence. Anything you can do to start your day in a peaceful and relaxed manner will help to reduce stress throughout the whole day.

3. Eliminate distractions during your working hours

The working day is filled with distractions, and these can drive your stress levels through the roof if you let them. Think about how you feel when the phone is constantly ringing, your social media and email notifications are going off every few seconds. Even when you love being social, it’s hard to get work done when you keep being reminded that there are always more things to be added to the list.

To reduce stress and get more done during working hours, make it a habit to turn everything off. Send your phone directly to voicemail, shut down all your social media sites, and hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door.

You will be amazed at how much more relaxed and focused you are when you are not being distracted by outside sources.

4. Make time management a mindset

Time management is just as much about mindset as it is about physical strategies for getting things done. If you keep telling yourself you have too much to do, or you’re never going to get things done, you are creating your own stress.

Instead, think positive thoughts such as “I have plenty of time” or “I will easily get this done within my deadline” and you will find that your day flows much more smoothly.  And, you will indeed get things done easily with plenty of time to spare.

When you make time management a mindset and a habit, you can’t help but be more productive during your working hours. The end result will be that you get more done, feel less stress, and have more time to spend on yourself and your family.  “Me time” will become a regular part of your day instead of something to be squeezed in when you have a minute or two.

Woman business owner smiling in front of her store

Three Tips For Building Confidence and Reducing Stress in Your Business

When you are an entrepreneur, it falls on you to market your business. If you don’t sell yourself and your products, your business will not be the success that you know in your heart it can be. You may be great at what you do, but if you get turned down when you try to sell your products and services, it can be an extremely confidence-sapping, not to mention stressful, experience.

If you find yourself in need of a confidence boost, here are three things you can do to get you back on the road to success.

1. Visualize your success

In business, attitude is everything. If you expect to be confident and successful, you will look and act as if you are confident and successful.  You can give this process a head start by visualizing yourself successfully selling your products and services.

See yourself closing the deal, shaking hands, signing the contract, and celebrating your success. Add the emotions involved in having a successful day to your vision as well so that you can internalize the happy, confident feelings that you associate with success.

2. Know what you are selling, and who you are selling to.

No matter how well you think you know your product, if you are not sure who your target market is, you will appear less than confident in your presentations. The opposite is true as well — if you have your target market down pat, but aren’t one-hundred per cent sure your products are right for them, you will also appear less than confident.

You can shore up your confidence by knowing as much as you can about both your products and your market. Being prepared to answer their questions and concerns about how you and your products can help will also help you appear more confident. And the more confident you are, the less anxious and stressed you will be about making the sale.

3. Share your passion

As an entrepreneur, you know you are passionate about your products and services. But, are you confident enough to show that passion to the world?

If you’re not, you should be.

Doing what you love, loving what you do, and sharing that passion with the world will build your confidence like nothing else can. People will see this, feel this, and want it for themselves. Passion is contagious and when you are really passionate about what you are doing, you are filled with so much confidence there is really no room for stress.

As an entrepreneur, you know there will always be stressful situations to deal with in your business. How you deal with them can either boost your confidence or deplete it. Knowing your market, being passionate about the solutions you bring to the table, and visualizing your success will go a long way to ensuring that you are able to deal with whatever comes your way in a confident and stress-free manner.

Women holding coffee cup checking laptop in kitchen

How to Stop Working Long Hours Without Feeling Guilty

“Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do.” – Voltaire

Working long hours on a regular basis can be easy to do when you run your own business. It can be equally, if not more difficult, when you work from home. The guilt creeps when you shut down your computer for the day. Your gut twists with the nagging worry that you will never get everything finished on your list.

The work trap.

A habit forms when you begin to put others first before taking take of your own needs. If there is any time left over in your day then you give yourself attention. You hide from others just how much you are carrying on your shoulders. Remember the directions about the oxygen mask when flying on an airplane? Yes, you place the oxygen mask on yourself first then tend to those around you.

Taking care of your needs helps fuel you to take care of others. It’s when you borrow from tomorrow’s health for today’s needs that leads to chronic stress.

Guilt is a useless emotion.

This guilt goes beyond the normal knowing right from wrong. Guilt and excessive worry can catapult your stress level. Beating yourself up about the amount of work on your to do list can cause overwhelm. High levels of guilt can paralyze you, your productivity and your quality of life. It’s important to examine just what expectations you have attached to your work performance.

Let’s talk about some ways to leave work and leave the guilt behind:

1.  Make doable goals. Does it seem like your to do list never gets done? A tip can be to make sure your goals are bite-size. Map out how you see a project will unfold from beginning to end. Determine when you will accomplish your goals. If you find yourself feeling anxiety about not getting something done, check in to see how big your goal is and other factors like focus and discipline (more about this below). Be realistic and add on just a bit more time than expected to complete you task or goal.

2.  Have an end-of-day ritual. Update your list for the next day so you can start quickly the next work day. Then spend some time decompressing from the day. If your office is away from home, commute time can help disconnect work from home. Having a home office, however, can leave a void in moving in personal life mode. It’s important to have space before jumping into home responsibilities. Whether it’s taking a walk, deep breathing or a short meditation, do something that will ease you into the rest of your day.

3.  Close the door to your office. Literally. Close the door behind you if your home office is in a separate space from the rest of your home. My startup office was in an open space. It’s tempting to go back and check on something. Make sure you disconnect from all tech sources, just as if you are leaving the office. It can become a compulsion to check your email and social media after the end of the day.

4.  Focus and discipline. Have you ever wondered where the time has gone at the end of the day? It’s really important to know not only where you spend your time but that you have strong focus to finish your list. It’s so easy to get distracted with email, phone calls and especially social media. Set a timer for tasks or use a productivity manager to help you see how much time you are spending on a certain task.

5.  Outsource. It’s so important to ask for help and outsource any tasks that take too much time. Spend the most time possible on the part of the project you are good at and allow others from your support team to give you a hand. Wringing your hand over how to do something complicated can be quickly remedied by someone who can do the job quickly.

Follow these tips to free yourself from working long hours. Set boundaries in your work life and discover the new freedom to care for YOU.

Various clocks flying in air

How to Be Productive Without Losing Sleep

“You cannot manage time, you can only manage yourself.” – Peter Drucker

Being productive is something most people want during any given day. Long lists from what seems like endless projects can become overwhelming and suck the life from you. Before you know it, you are staying up long hours and losing sleep to get everything done. It seems like so many distractions detour you from the end result: completing your project.

Juggling Time

Various clocks flying in airA common time-management tool is to control the activities outside of you. It’s common to try to juggle everything you have to do. Does it seem that the personal calendar company didn’t put enough lines for your to-do list? A result of stress is attempting to manage things outside of you. Maybe it’s not so much about managing your activities but how you manage yourself first.

“Time flies. It’s up to you to be the navigator. “ – Robert Orben

Managing how you spend your time is an essential key in being productive. Where you choose to spend your time will determine the richness and quality of your life.

Dealing with distractions

The number-one time thief is distraction. Focus is one area that will greatly improve how much time you allocate to different areas of your life. A new time tool to try is Time Doctor. It allows you to focus on a one task while getting a true read of how long it takes to get the task done. Time Doctor lets you start and stop tasks and sends you a productivity report daily. When the timer is running, this program really helps you stay on task.

Shift how you look at time

Time really cannot be saved. Once it is wasted you can’t get it back. Look at what you value the most in life. Examine if you are contributing your efforts to those areas the most. For example, spending time with your loved ones is a value you hold, then you choose to do activities with them.

Prioritize and do what’s most important

Now that you have determined where you want to spend your time, you can now decide what actions will be most effective. Focus your efforts on the tasks that will give you the biggest bang for your effort. Your activities will truly tell you what you value.

Remember, you are in charge of how best to accomplish your goals. Life will throw roadblocks up from time to time. Step back and see if you need to change how you are approaching your goal or that you need to take a deep breath and move forward.

Delegate and ask for help

People lose trust in someone quickly if they say they can do something and fail to follow up. Before accepting another task to do, ask yourself these two questions:

”Does this activity truly fit into where I want to spend my time and what I value most?”

“Can someone else help me with this task?”

Answering these two questions can truly help you keep focused.

Study how you can use the 24 hours in the day to create happiness and a deeper quality of life. You may find that you are more productive without losing sleep.

I want to give you the form that helps me prioritize my day. Click here to download my Life Management Daily Checklist as my gift to you.

African American mother and daughter in kitchen making healthy breakfast

Five Tips to Boost Your Energy During the Day

“The higher your energy level, the more efficient your body. The more efficient your body, the better you feel and the more you will use your talent to produce outstanding results.” – Tony Robbins

It’s 10:30 AM. You just feel like you need to boost your energy to get through until lunch. You decide to grab an extra cup of coffee to get though the morning. Thirty minutes later the fatigue returns, making it harder to stay focused and feel productive.

Being stressed out can drain you of physical and mental energy. You run on all cylinders all day between work and home, feeling wired but tired when you put your head on the pillow at night. Your mind races with everything that still needs to be finished. Yet there is a nagging fatigue that overwhelms your body. And low energy is hard to ignore when you are dragging though the day.

Your energy bank.

Think about your energy as if it were kept in a bank account. Each time you take care of something or someone, you are spending from your energy account. Giving back to yourself refills your energy. When you withdraw from your energy account repeatedly without putting energy into your account, you enter into the chronic stress zone.

Here are five tips to boost your energy during the day:

African American mother and daughter in kitchen making healthy breakfastEat breakfast. Food fuels the body. Breakfast is a great stress reliever plus it gets you revved up for the day. Make a quick smoothie, adding kale or spinach, protein powder and other vegetables. Try steel cut oats with blueberries and almond or coconut milk for a great breakfast. Keep a healthy snack ready for mid-morning to keep you going strong. Adding protein to breakfast can energize your day and help you feel full longer.

Stretch more. Sitting in one position for any length of time causes stiff, tight muscles. Moving every thirty minutes will promote better circulation, keep your muscles lengthened, and energize your body.

Meditate. Meditation allows the mind to clear get focused and be present. A meditation myth is you must sit crossed-legged and have at least 30 minutes extra to properly meditate. The truth about meditation is even five minutes of quieting your mind in a comfortable chair can be helpful.

Drink Water. Did you know if you are thirsty that you are already dehydrated? While water isn’t a direct source of energy, it is a vital part of the chemical reaction to create energy in the body. Caffeinated drinks, such as coffee will increase dehydration rather than replenish fluid in your body.

Exercise. The last thing that you feel like doing is exercising when you are tired. Exercise during the day helps to energize you and release feel good hormones in the body. Just taking a walk around the block can help you rejuvenate after sitting at the desk for a while.

There are so many choices you can make that directly affect your energy level. Choose one or all of these energy-boosting tips to keep focused, productive, and happy.

When Self-Criticism Pushes You Beyond Your Limits

self-criticism, exhaustion, work from home, entrepreneur“Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots.” – Frank A. Clark

Self-criticism can happen without you even noticing it. Putting yourself down can be an unconscious habit that can undermine your success. It can also push you beyond your physical and mental limits. Negative thoughts and self-talk can twist how you see yourself accurately and how much of yourself you put into work.

The inner critic can really rear its ugly head when you’re tired and keep pushing yourself to get something done. The truth is there will always be something on your to do list. Being an entrepreneur doesn’t mean you are not human. Driving yourself to succeed in business doesn’t mean you drive yourself into the ground.

Self-criticism can take the form of thinking people will find out you’re a fraud. It could sound like:

  • Someone will see through me and know I’m a fake.”
  • “If people knew who I really was they wouldn’t want to be around me”
  • “I’m such a loser. I’m never going to make money at this business”

Do you have clear self-perception?

Where did these thoughts come from? Maybe it was an ill word from your parents or some other important person. Self-criticism can happen so automatically and quickly. Catching these ill-thought and shifting to positive thinking is the key. Do whatever it takes to shift your thoughts: dance, sing, listen to a motivational speaker, do a mental gratitude list. It may seem like a battle at first but it will get easier. Remember, the one thing you can be in control of is your thoughts.

Get accurate in your thinking

Critical thoughts are venomous, cause distraction and keep you in fear for taking your next step. This can be the very time you are about to make a huge breakthrough when working on a project. Recognize it, shift your thinking and move forward. Suffering under the self-critic becomes a choice or unconscious habit. Using a journal can help you see how it is affecting your life. This might be the very moment you have been waiting for in your life and work.

Recognize you are one person, not a team of folks running your business. People that run their own business have a unique way of driving themselves beyond an eight hour day. You can easily tip over the edge of exhaustion and begin not to think clearly. Know your edge and listen to your body.

Self-examinations can be such a helpful tool. Know what make you tick. Discover your strengths and the traits you want to improve on. It’s all too easy to find those not so shiny behaviors to pick on. Always list the qualities you love about yourself, too. These are your truths and strengths, rather than someone else’s version. Guilt and shame related to your past can emerge, and forgiveness is the key.

As you grow personally, so will your life and business. Don’t allow self-criticisms to push you beyond your limits.

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