If you’re trying to maximize your productivity, stress will always be one of your biggest obstacles. It’s not an easy one to overcome, but it is possible with a plan to make stress management a priority in your daily routine. The good news is, if you succeed in learning to manage stress, you’ll unlock your potential and be well on your way to peak performance. Here are seven tips on how to manage stress and improve your productivity.
1. Give Yourself an Extra Hour in the Morning
Many of the world’s most successful people tend to be early risers. For example, Apple’s Tim Cook gets out of bed before 4 AM each day. Michelle Obama is already getting in her daily workout at 4:30 AM. Richard Branson gets up at 5:45 AM each day, even when he’s vacationing on his private island. Getting up early allows you to take control of your time and reduce your stress by taking care of the things you need to do without anyone making other demands. It’s important to get up early enough to start your day without feeling rushed, but not at the cost of getting enough sleep. A proper sleep schedule and enough sleep are critical parts of stress management.
2. Determine and Review Your Most Important Tasks Each Day
Take some time before bed each night to write down your three most important tasks for the following day. Then, do this as a part of your morning routine, so you can update your priorities and think about them before the distractions of the day begin. Take some time before bed each night to review that day’s priorities and think about what prevented you from getting to them. Determine some common daily interruptions that got in your way, then game-plan how to remove those interruptions and stressors from your day.
3. Save Your Emails for Later in the Morning
One of the key causes of stress comes from our inability to cope with the unexpected. Your most prominent source of near-constant unexpected information every day is likely your email. You can’t ignore your email, but you can learn how to manage it most effectively. Make a habit out of giving yourself an email-free hour or two at the beginning of each day. In that time, tackle one of your daily priorities and get it taken care of. Your email will be waiting for you when you’re done, and you’ll do so in a much better frame of mind.
4. Take a Walk After Email Time
Taking a walk is one of the best ways you can relieve stress. It’s a form of meditation that will put you back into the right condition to be productive, and there’s no better time to do it each day than after taking care of your emails. Ideally, take a walk outside, and preferably in the most natural setting possible. If you’re in an urban environment, a nearby park will suffice. Studies have demonstrated that walking in such environments for as little as 20 minutes per day leads to an overall reduction in the body’s cortisol level, your body’s main stress hormone.
5. Reserve Time to Research and Plan a Vacation
Thinking about a vacation can help you reduce stress. A Cornell University study in 2012 found that the anticipation of a positive experience—like a vacation—can reduce stress and make you measurably happier. To maximize the stress-relieving effects of a vacation, set aside at least a half-hour each day to research or plan an upcoming vacation. With vacation rental bookings still hovering below 50% in most major markets, planning your next vacation will have a therapeutic effect.
6. Create a Shutdown Ritual to End Your Day
Just as it’s important to get your day off to a stress-free, unhurried start, you’ll want to do the same when the day is through. Create a shutdown ritual to wind down and relax before bed. It could be a simple routine such as reviewing your to-do list, planning for the next day, or reading a book. Whatever it is, make it a habit and stick to it every day.
7. Practice Mindfulness and Meditation
Mindfulness and meditation are powerful tools for managing stress and increasing productivity. Mindfulness is the practice of being present and fully engaged in the moment. Start each day with a few minutes of deep breathing or meditation to set a peaceful tone for your day. Take a few deep breaths before answering stressful emails or engaging in tense conversations. A few minutes of mindfulness can make all the difference in how you approach each day.
In conclusion, stress is a constant part of our lives, and we all must know how to manage it. Integrate these tips into your daily routine to help ease stress and improve your productivity. With commitment and practice, you can turn stress management into a habit and unlock your potential for peak performance.