Stress for Success

Stress: there’s no escaping it. Too much stress makes us lose focus, drift into reaction mode, and eventually burns us out. But we can’t completely eliminate stress, and the good news is that we don’t want to. Instead, it’s time to learn how to harness our stressors and use them to become more productive.

Improve focus. Zero in on tasks that will move you toward your objectives right now. This isn’t a substitute for good planning, but it will help you stop spinning your wheels mid-project. Once you’ve exited high-stress mode, examine why you lost focus in the first place. Common causes are lack of adequate staffing, unrealistic schedules, and old fashioned procrastination.

Remove low-priority tasks. Look at what’s on your plate and remove anything that isn’t top tier. Either delegate those items to someone else on the team, look for outside help on tasks that don’t make the best use of your time, or consider postponing or even canceling tasks that are no longer relevant. Going forward, you’ll want to more closely monitor your workload and delegate more aggressively.

Boost creativity. What’s more motivating than a thorny problem mixed with a tight deadline? As stress increases, innovation and creativity will often give you better solutions than you would have come to using conventional thinking. Next time, build creativity (perhaps in the form of team problem-solving or brainstorming sessions) into your project plan.

Be less reactive. It’s imperative that you stop reacting to the disaster of the day and instead reclaim the power that comes from proactive project management. Take a breath, determine how to solve the crisis you’re currently working on, then immediately identify the task you should work on next. You’ll be able to focus your energy on moving your project forward rather than being randomly yanked along.

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