Stress at Work

Cat squished in bookcase

A Little Flexibility Can Go A Long Ways Toward Relieving Stress

When you are so inflexible that the slightest change to your routine sends you into a full-blown panic, you are setting yourself up for a very stressful life. Being unwilling to compromise means not only that you will have a stressful time dealing with any type of change, but also that you may often be required to defend your thoughts and your actions to others both at home and at work. This can cause even more stress in an already stressful situation.

If you can learn to be a bit more flexible and open to compromise, you will find a lot of stressful situations can be avoided. Here are five reasons why a willingness to be even a little bit flexible can help you reduce stress in your work life and your personal life.

1. Being flexible makes dealing with change less stressful.

When you’re flexible it’s much easier to switch gears and move from one task to the next with little stress. Where an inflexible person might get stressed out at leaving one task undone because they were asked to help with a last-minute project, your newfound flexibility will allow you to jump into the new project easily, and just as easily return to your own work when the crisis has passed.

2. When you’re flexible your energy is much more positive.

Unless you’re a recluse, you will have to deal with other people over the course of your life. Recognizing that change is a given when more than one person is involved, and being able to deal with it positively is a wonderful skill to have. Being flexible hones that skill, and people appreciate it when you are able to handle a change in situation without getting flustered and stressed about it.

3. Being flexible helps you deal with perfectionism (and we all know how stressful that can be)!

Learning to be flexible as well as letting go of the things you can’t change and being willing to accept that things are what they are will allow you to live a longer, and more happy life. And just in case you were wondering — there will ALWAYS be things you can’t change. The sooner you learn this, the sooner you can kiss a lot of stress goodbye.

4. A little flexibility is a good time management skill to have.

While other people are getting stressed out over last minute schedule changes, your ability to be flexible will have you checking your schedule to see where you can make changes. When you’re flexible, the reason for the changes doesn’t really matter, you just deal with them and move on.

5. Being flexible helps you stay calm in a crisis.

Learning to be flexible allows you to stay calm, and just deal with things as they happen. While others are busy stressing out around you, you’ll be staying in a positive frame of mind, feeling more confident in your ability to handle the crisis, and being a lot better off because of it.

There’s a lot to be said for bringing a little flexibility into your life. By keeping your options open and being willing to compromise when necessary, you reduce stress, are able to live more happily and in the moment. This beats worrying and stressing out over every little thing any day!

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.

Woman with red outfit sitting in front of computer holidng her eyes

Five Business Burnout Relief Strategies

“In dealing with those who are undergoing great suffering, if you feel ‘burnout’ setting in, if you feel demoralized and exhausted, it is best, for the sake of everyone, to withdraw and restore yourself. The point is to have a long-term perspective.” – Dalai Lama

Woman with red outfit sitting in front of computer holidng her eyesBusiness and work burnout can seem as if it appears out of nowhere. Long workdays coupled with anxiety and lack of focus can be telltale signs of burnout. You work so hard, cranking out the next product, program or marketing strategy but find yourself numb and getting overwhelmed with details. Are you ignoring signs you are in danger of burnout?

Signs that you might be suffering from business burnout:

  • Your passion about your career has begun to slowly dwindle
  • Your creativity toward new ideas has become challenged
  • You are having increased difficulty in focusing on your current project
  • You feel exhausted, anxious and just plain worn out.

Try these 5 techniques to get burnout relief:

1. Schedule time to yourself. When was the last day you remember taking off from work? You are at high risk for burnout if you can’t remember or it’s been several weeks or months. Schedule at least two days, one for rest and the other to get our ground, and reassess your goals. The first argument that will creep up is that you don’t have time. It’s so important that you make time. What you might not clearly see is that your productivity is down at this point from the burnout. Regenerating your batteries will get you ready to move forward.

2. Shift your mindset. A business is something that gradually grows over time and requires an endurance mindset. Pace yourself, using your goals as mile markers toward your definition of success. Build your business around your life, not your life around your business. If you find yourself saying, “I’ll be happy when________”, then your risk for damage to your health and relationships are greater than you think.

3. Stay healthy. It’s important to stay in physical condition when you’re under constant stress. Make time for basic self-care, eating balanced meals. Make appointments to exercise, and other activities, such as a massage. Keep yourself at top shape. Make sure you fit in relaxation and adequate sleep. You can deal with stress much easier when you are well-rested. Remember to fuel your body in order to have the best outcomes in your life.

4. Honor your time. Set clear boundaries when it comes to work time. It make seem like you are always working when you are in a high-pressured job or an entrepreneur. Learning how to budget the time in your day more effectively will relieve a lot of this time pressure and stress. Good time management will lessen the feeling of being overwhelmed, as well as enable you to have the time you need to do what you want to do.

5. Stick to what you do best. Keep track of the activities that you can delegate and outsource during your workday. Perform at what you do best and pass along the tasks that you don’t like or take too much time. You have a specific talent. Make sure that’s where you spend the majority of your time.

Business burnout can happen especially when you least expect it. Be very conscious of the warning signs of burnout and always protect the greatest asset in your business: 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.

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.

Image credit: logos / 123RF Stock Photo

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