Top Tips for Staying Productive in Stressful Times
Rev. Dr. Kitty Boitnott, NBCT, RScP
Heart-Centered Career Transition and Job Search Coach | Stress Management Coaching
Staying productive can be a challenge, even during the best of times. Some people have trouble even being consistently productive in the first place. Those who have a predisposition toward attention deficit disorder (ADD) can tell you how difficult it is to stay focused and productive at any time.
When you feel stressed out or dealing with other problems in your life, it can feel almost impossible to get things done. If you have felt stressed out and your productivity has waned this past year because of the pandemic or for other reasons, then you may find these tips useful:
Confront Your Stress
At some point, you will realize that you can only hide from your stress for so long. At some point, you need to acknowledge it. You will need to confront it. Recognizing your stress and dealing with it is the first step toward managing it more proactively and effectively.
Focus On What You Can Control and Recognize What You Can't Control
Sometimes the source of your stress is something over which you have no direct control. If that is the case, your best bet is to take control of the things in your life that you can control. For example, you can't control the stock market, but you can manage your spending and investing habits.
Honor Your Productive Hours
Most of us perform better at certain hours. Some people get their best work done in the morning. Others are more productive at night.
Figure out when you work the best, and honor those hours. This time is doubly important when dealing with stress, as your productive hours may be different from usual.
Ask For Help When You Need It
Don't be afraid to reach out for help when you need it. You might want to reach out for help with a project you are working on, or you might want to vent to a friend to relieve stress. The scenario doesn't matter; what matters is feeling comfortable asking for help when you need it.
Keep Things As Simple As You Can
If you are struggling with some severe stress, then you should keep things as simple as possible. Try holding off the heavy lifting while you focus on simple tasks.
It's also essential that you focus on one task at a time. Multitasking saps your focus at the best of times; it is an absolute productivity killer when you are already stressed.
Tune Out the Noise
If your stress comes from outside influences, it might be time to tune those out. You don't have to bury your head in the sand, but you also don't need to watch your Twitter feed or cable news for hours on end. Find a balance between staying informed and staying sane.
Don't Beat Yourself Up for Not Being Perfect
You are already going through a stressful situation; the last thing you need is to beat yourself up. When things are tough, don't be so hard on yourself if you have a bad day. You aren't going to bounce back from a lazy or unproductive day if you are too busy feeling guilty about it.
Use Rewards Strategically (and Liberally)
Everyone likes rewards. Most of the things we do are tied to some form of compensation. When you are struggling to stay productive, it can help to use rewards strategically. For example, if you have a crucial task that you need to do - create a reward for it. If you finish X, you will reward yourself with Y.
And don't be stingy about it. You need to be liberal with yourself and reward yourself often to keep yourself motivated.
Take One Step
Just get started! Getting started is the simplest step and happens to be the most effective.
Sometimes when we are stressed, it feeds into our procrastination. When you take one single step (make it something simple and easy) it can help to create the momentum you need to keep going.
1. Find a piece of paper, or use a notes app to jot down the things that stress you out.
2. Look at your stressors and figure out which ones you can control and which ones you can't.
3. Take a simple action towards dealing with one single stressor that you CAN control.
Until next time.
I've got a workshop that's perfect for you! "Stress Management Tools For Teachers: How to Manage and Mitigate the stress of Teachers" during these last few months. It offers specific tips, techniques, and strategies on how to take control of your life in order to lessen it or even eliminate it together if possible.
To register for free, click here: https://event.webinarjam.com/register/28/97l4mag2
If you have questions, as always, feel free to reach out to me.
I hope you enjoy my weekly podcast, "Teachers in Transition." You can listen to it on iTunes or anywhere that hosts your favorite podcasts.
I alternate topics each week: one week is all about stress and how to manage it, while the next focuses on career transition strategies for educators like yourself!
Check it out!