We spend an inordinate amount of time being stressed at work. While some frustrations may be driven by the “do more with less” approach, the struggle to keep up with rapid changes, and a general avalanche of problems, one of our top sources of stress relates to the conflict we have with other people. The typical responses of complaining, avoiding, or fighting can be absolutely draining. Recent studies show that in the US, work-related stress is costing the economy over 300 billion per year and can be blamed for 120,000 deaths per year.

How we deal with stress related to coworkers can determine our health, happiness, and productivity. While it is tempting to blame the other person, there is usually not one culprit so an excellent place to start is understanding our role in the situation. …

When stress strikes and impacts your body and mind, how do you handle it? Learning about your reactions can help you manage it and build resilience in its presence.

Here are 3 leading ways to get to the root of stress:

1. Explore your stress through questioning. Ask yourself:

A. How do I respond under pressure? Maybe you confront, avoid, break down, become irrational.

B. What does stress do to me physically? Beating heart, tightness in your chest or shoulders, sweating, knots in your stomach, or headaches.

C. How does it affect me emotionally? Do I get sad, angry, worried, or have a pervasive out-of-control feeling? …

In the last article, we talked about different kinds of stress and associated positive and negative impacts. The focus of this article will be on ways to manage worry effectively.

Let’s Jump Into Leading Techniques to Deal with Stress:

1. View it positively. How you see it makes all the difference. A study tracked 30,000 adults in the US for eight years and began by asking people, “How much stress have you experienced in the last year?” and “Do you believe that stress is harmful to your health?” Researchers then used public death records to find out who died. The results showed that people who experienced a lot of stress in the previous year and viewed it as harmful to their health had a 43% increased risk of dying. People who experienced a lot of anxiety but did not see it as harmful were no more likely to die. In fact, they had the lowest risk of dying of anyone in the study, including people who had relatively little strain. …

There are no shortages of common sources of stress including work, children, finances, relationships, illness, overcommitment, loneliness, family dynamics, lack of work-life balance, and uncertainty, all exacerbated during these quarantine times. While stress is a ubiquitous part of life, its negative effects do not have to be. The very way we look at stress can completely change its hold over us.

Stress comes in many different forms. There is the type of stress which you bring onto yourself such as showing up for a meeting unprepared or skipping out on a commitment. This is pointless stress because it can be avoided or minimized with advance planning and prioritization before the situation turns problematic. There is the stress that hits you like a bolt from the blue and even having done everything right, you could not have anticipated or controlled its arrival. There is high-level stress that can be debilitating to your performance and there is low-level stress that can be enhancing. There is short-lived stress that provides the accelerating force for you to accomplish a task and there is long-lasting stress that chips away at your health and happiness each day. …

One of the biggest struggles in the modern workplace is knowing how to prioritize work. Workloads are ballooning and everything feels important. However, the truth is that a lot of the work we do every day does not really need to be done. At least not right away.

Here are some additional helpful tips for tackling prioritization:

1. Apply the Pareto Principle or 80–20 rule to everything you do. It says that 20% of your activities will count for 80% of your results. So from a list of 10, two of those items will be worth the other eight combined. On any given day, do you know your top two valued activities? …

You have done the work of capturing and organizing all your tasks. Now it is time to figure out what should come first and next, so you attain optimal results for you, your team, and your organization.

Here are some popular systems for prioritization:

1. Eisenhower Matrix. Former US President Dwight Eisenhower developed this tool. It is a simple four-quadrant box that helps you separate important and urgent tasks. Most of us fall into the trap of thinking urgent is important, but there is a big difference. This propensity likely has roots in our evolutionary history; our ancestors concentrated more on short-term concerns than long-term strategy. …

The last blog covered the importance of mapping out our high-level plan, including our purpose, vision, and values. Now we can jump into creating a daily practice of planning and prioritizing.

Author and Organizational Consultant David Allen, a master of prioritization and planning, offers his Getting Things Done (GTD) system for organization. His 5-step process — capture, clarify, organize, reflect, and engage with your stuff — helps us get more precise with our work.

1. Capture. We need different lists for different purposes. First, make a master list, where you capture everything you need to do in one spot that is out of your mind. This thought-download exercise will provide a sense of relief. Allen asserts, “Your mind is for having ideas, not for holding them.” If we put things in an external drive, we can free up mental space and be fully engaged with our current tasks and be more present with the people in our lives. You can create categories of things that are important to you for more significant organization. You can also have a “someday maybe” list of items that could be interesting to explore eventually. For example, consider taking the marketing course, look into taking the family to this event. You can then further divide your work into monthly, weekly, and daily lists. …

You have just decided that you are going to start regularly prioritizing so you can go big on the things that matter to you. To facilitate your efforts, you first want to devise an effective planning system that will offer greater strategic clarity.

Here are some useful steps to take to create a foundation of planning that will set you up for more effective prioritization:

Get clear on WHAT you want and WHY you want it! This process includes purpose, values, vision, goals, and objectives.

1. Purpose. This can be a much more involved exercise, but essentially, why are you on this planet, what are you here to do? Is your purpose to help others, if so, what actions are you taking to serve that purpose which allows you to feel fully alive? It will be easier for you to create daily and weekly tasks when you know what you need to do within the bigger picture and when you are going after purpose-driven items, you will love the reasons for choosing what to spend time on. …

It can be common to feel like you have a never-ending river of responsibilities. You put in what feels like a productive work session, but cannot quite seem to make a dent in your pile. Learning to prioritize your most important work will allow you to make meaningful progress in your life.

Choosing not to prioritize comes with some dangers. Here are a few:

1. When we do not prioritize, everything becomes important. Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism, shares a story of how on the day after his daughter was born, he was urged to attend a work meeting by a colleague. Feeling pressured and not knowing his priorities, he left his wife in the hospital and showed up to work. When he got there, clients looked at him perplexed and could not understand why he was not with his family. When you are not clear on your priorities and say yes to everybody to please them, you end up doing more damage in the process — in his case — harm to his family, his integrity, and client relationships. …

In the last article, I wrote about how adding guidelines can improve the process of brainstorming, however, there are many different types of brainstorming. Let’s explore six popular ways to spark creativity in your team.

1. Brain Writing. Start by giving people time to think and work alone by writing down all of their ideas. Then come together as a group and each person shares one idea at a time. When you separate the individual idea generation stage from the group discussion activity, it allows for many more initial possibilities. …

CEO and Founder at Next Levels Coaching Regina@nextlevelscoaching.com

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