How To Simplify Your Life

How to Simplify Your Life

How To Simplify Your Life

Simplify Your Work Life

How much time do you spend working? Quite a lot, right? This is an area in which you can benefit massively from embracing simplification.

  1. Become a prioritization fanatic. Prioritization is such a buzz word. However, very few people apply it really well. Do yourself a big favor and apply the Pareto Law in everything you do at work. This will take out of your to-do list a lot of non-essential stuff.
  2. Take a week to hunt for simplification opportunities. The problem is that people get so used to doing something in a certain way, that they stop looking for simplification opportunities. However, you will benefit a lot if you take a week to ask yourself every time you do something if it can be done more efficiently. Focus mostly on the actions you take regularly.
  3. Build productive relationships across the organization. A lot of time is spent in all organizations with office politics games. Do your job exceptionally well and build productive relationships and this will simplify your life a lot. Of course you can’t completely avoid being dragged into such games, but this approach goes a long way.
  4. Clear your calendar. If there’s no space anymore to squeeze meeting after meeting into your calendar, it’s time to stop. Be ruthless in making your choices, so that you are able to avoid over-commitment. If your presence doesn’t add significant value to a meeting, decline the invitation. Review all your regular time commitments and cut everything that is not essential.
  5. Learn to say “No”. This is a key skill to master if you are interested into how to simplify your life, both on a personal and a professional level. There are simply too many demands on our time. Not only you should not over-commit, but you need to allow for buffer time for unexpected actions you need to take. The only way to achieve this is to say “no” to everything that doesn’t pass the 80/20 test.

Simplify Your Relationships

We are social beings, and we are part of a complex social networks, online and offline. Given the many communication channels, it’s easy to get lost into the craze of staying “connected” 24/7.

Ironically, although we spend more time communicating with others, the quality of the time we spend together has gone down. Take a look around you. You will see family gatherings, dates, various meetings in which people are checking their phones all the time, instead of focusing on having a good quality communication with each other.

Here are a few tips to simplify relationships in your life:

  1. Make sure the bulk of your time is spent with the people most important to you. We interact with hundreds of people, so it’s impossible to dedicate equal time and attention to everyone. Make a list with the people that are really important in your life. Then make sure you dedicate enough time to them. And make it a quality time.
  2. Don’t hurry to become best friends with everybody. Having friends is great and we all know the value of true friendship. At the same time, cherishing a relationship takes time. So don’t jump into building new relationships at the expense of neglecting your current ones. Remember point 1 above.
  3. Minimize contact with people who fill you up with negative energy. Life is too short to spend it with people who have a negative impact on the way you feel. Sometimes you can’t cut-off completely such people from your life. Some of them may even be part of your family. However, try to minimize the time you spend with them.
  4. Cut on your social media time. Facebook, Twitter and all the social media tools are great up to a point. You can easily stay in-touch with people in your network. However, they are also terrible time sinks. You need to set limits. If you stay connected and check your messages all the time, you’ll waste a huge amount of time. How about checking your Facebook account three times per day? I know it may sound impossible, but do you think the world will crash if you do that? Try it for a week!
  5. Be direct. The most simple approach to effective communication is to be direct. If you want to know something, ask. If you want to go out with someone, invite. If you like or don’t like something, say it. We sometimes unnecessarily complicate our lives via engaging into complicated games. No need to do this. Keep things simple.
  6. Handle conflicts assertively. A lot of the relationship triggered stress is generated by conflicts. You can’t avoid disagreements, but you can control the way you react to them. The most effective way is to be neither passive or aggressive, but assertive. Fight for your own rights, while observing the rights of others. Even if the other party is aggressive, always search for a win-win solution.

Simplify Your Home Environment

Here are a few practical tips to simplify your home environment:

  1. De-clutter. Get rid of everything you don’t use anymore and you don’t remember why it’s there for. Over the years, we accumulate lots of stuff. You don’t need a large part of it anymore, so make it disappear. It’s not only about the physical space, but also about the mental space. You will feel so relieved after performing such an action. Set aside a weekend for a big simplification push or dedicate one hour a day to this action, until you complete it.
  2. Review your wardrobe. Go through your wardrobe and throw away everything you didn’t wear in the past year. It is very unlikely that you will wear those items, despite your tendency to keep all the clothes, just in case.
  3. Automate and outsource. Automate bills payment, get help and outsource services such as cleaning, in order to simplify your schedule and free up time for yourself.
  4. Own less. This tip is the brother of the “buy less” and “de-clutter” tips. Less possessions, less things to worry about. This is one of the benefits of a minimalist lifestyle.
  5. Try living without a car. Depending on your specific situation, this may not apply to you, but why not consider living without a car? You would get rid of so many problems and worries.

How to Simplify Your Financial Life

Money related stress is big on the agenda, so it is worth assessing what is your status in this area. The ideas below may be a good starting point:

  1. Make a plan to get rid of debt. The debt pressure is very stressful. Imagine the relief you would feel if you were debt-free. If you are already debt-free, congratulations! If not, make a plan to get rid of debt. It is not easy and it will not happen overnight. But if you make it an objective to become debt-free and if you take consistent action in this direction, you will succeed.
  2. Don’t live beyond your means. Even if you make very large amounts of money, if you spend even more, you are complicating your life unnecessarily. If you don’t earn enough, find a solution to generate the minimum income that allows you to live at a decent level.
  3. Buy less. This is related to the previous point, but it’s not the same thing. Even if you can easily afford buying a lot of things, don’t do it. Owning lots and lots of things complicates life. You need to insure them, maintain them, take care of them. The consumerism society continuously pushes you to buy more and more things but you don’t really need them. Next time you take your credit card out, ask yourself if you really need to use it.
  4. Keep your investment strategy simple. Your wealth should not be a never-ending source of worries. In terms of investments, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Your portfolio will of course reflect your tolerance for risk. In any case though, it is recommended to go for a balanced portfolio and to find ways to simplify the management. Is it worth it to go for higher return, but also higher stress? In the end it’s your decision, but make it a conscious choice.
  5. Pursue financial freedom via developing passive income streams. This is not for everyone and short term it may mean that you actually need to work more and complicate your life further. But mid-long term, achieving passive income will simplify your financial life massively.

Photo By: Paul L. Dineen

Limiting Beliefs

Overcoming Limiting Beliefs

Limiting Beliefs

What Are Limiting Beliefs?

A limiting belief is a negative belief about yourself or about the outside world, reducing your ability to achieve success in a certain area of your life.

The tricky part is that most limiting beliefs operate at a subconscious level, so you may not even be aware that you are affected. It all starts with negative thoughts that are slowly, but surely accepted as being true. Thus, they manage to get by unchallenged, silently shaping the way you act on a regular basis.

When you realize how powerful your beliefs are, it can be scary. But the good thing is that you can overcome any negative beliefs you currently have. Moreover, you can replace them with empowering beliefs.

Taking the First Step

A first step is to know yourself. This is no easy task and it is a longer term endeavor.

Limiting beliefs usually surface when you set a goal in an area affected by negative thinking. The stretcher the goal and the further it takes you out of your comfort zone, the more limiting such beliefs can be.

Take a goal you have set for yourself and observe the kind of self-talk you have in relation to that goal.

For example, if you are considering a career shift, you may start to capture quite a number of negative beliefs when listen to your self-talk. “It is too late to make such a move.” ”It’s too risky to go for this in the current economic environment” and so on.

Do Limiting Beliefs Really Impact Your Life?

Yes they do. And not only that, but they shape your life massively. They operate in the shadow of your conscious mind, having the privilege to get by unchallenged. They serve as a foundation of your thinking in a certain area. As a result, they significantly impact your decision making.

For example, say you have the “It’s too risky to go for a drastic career change now” limiting belief. You may then go on to build upon this “This is not the time to take a huge risk, as I have a family to take care of.” Most probably you will conclude that it is better to just keep going without taking any action.

This is just an example to illustrate how big of an impact a belief can have.

Think about it. We all have lots of limiting beliefs that imprison us via restricting our life choices without us even realizing this.

It’s time to see what we can do about this. How can we win against these monsters?

Identify Clearly Your Limiting Beliefs

Asking the right questions will help you identify your limiting thinking patters. As most of them operate at subconscious level, you need to bring them to the surface. An effective way to do this is to simply think about a goal in an important area of your life.

Then monitor your self-talk.

Your dysfunctional thinking patterns will present themselves as reasons why you can’t achieve that goal. Don’t hesitate to spend some time doing this, in order to make sure that the culprits are fully exposed.

Assess the Gap

Before taking action against limitations, clarify what is the point you are trying to get to, where you are at this moment in time and what is the gap.

Upon identifying a limiting belief, don’t try to take direct action against it.

For example, if the belief is “Money can only come to me as a result of hard work, following a process that implies trading my time for money”, identify what is the opposite belief.

In this case it may be “I earn significant amounts of money via providing true value to others, following a process that includes a number of semi-passive income streams.” You can provide significant value to others via a digital product for example, that is delivered automatically via Internet. It’s a win-win for you and the customer.

Once you are clear what the empowering belief is, your action will be directed at installing the empowering belief firmly in the subconscious mind. After that point, you will reap the benefits without conscious effort.

Before getting to work, keep in mind these three watch-outs:

  • Consider what changes the new belief is likely to bring into your life. Changing a belief means that you change the way you think, but also the way you behave. Such a change may make you incompatible with existing elements in your life, such as a job, relationship and so on.
  • Installing an empowering belief takes time. Don’t try to rush the process. Yes, it does take time, but it’s totally worth it. Anything worth achieving or having in life takes time and effort.
  • Make sure the new belief is not out of your world. If you want to reach a very stretch goal, break it into steps. Otherwise, although you repeat something over and over, deep down you won’t believe it is feasible. Then, your subconscious will sabotage you. On the other hand, don’t hesitate to set a stretch goal for yourself. Just make sure it is achievable.

Techniques for Overcoming Limiting Beliefs

Use Positive Affirmations

This is an easy technique and it is the first one to be used in order to get rid of negative beliefs. These are positive statements that you repeat over and over again. In time, they will penetrate the subconscious mind, as a belief.

Align your behavior to the new belief

Although you don’t have yet the empowering belief installed yet, start acting as if it was true. There is a lot of power in acting “as if” and you have certainly heard of the expression “fake it till you make it.” Your subconscious can’t tell you are pretending and it will accept your new behavior as genuine. This in turn helps reinforce the empowering belief, which in turns leads to adopting the new behavior naturally.

Visualize

This is a very effective technique to really embed in your subconscious the empowering belief. First, prepare via a short relaxation session. In this way, your subconscious becomes more receptive. Then, imagine yourself in a context that implies you already have the empowering belief.

Here you are! Reprogramming your subconscious via replacing your limiting thinking patterns with empowering ones will make a huge difference to your life.

Photo by: Steve Rhodes

 

Fear of Missing Out

FOMO: Fear of Missing Out

Fear of Missing Out

Let me ask you a question. How many cool updates are there every day in your Facebook newsfeed?

Everybody seems to live the good life. Then the media also presents endless opportunities to pursue. We get tons of social media inputs showing how other do this and that, have fun, live life to the max, explore exotic places and new cultures, pursue passions, have amazing experiences and achieve impossible results.

What Does Fear of Missing Out Mean?

Fear of missing out or F.O.M.O. is a type of anxiety, a concern people have that there are opportunities they may miss, that others enjoy more rewarding experiences than they do.

The Fear of Missing Out in Life

The fear of missing out disorder is spreading at fast pace, also as a result of the fact that we are bombarded with evidence that others live a great life. As you don’t feel that your life is matching up, you are in danger by being grabbed by the FOMO monster.

Fear of Missing Out Social Anxiety

Don’t engage into doing something, just to be accepted by others. A type of FOMO is related to your perceived status among your peers. For fear of not facing social rejection, you may be tempted to engage into actions you don’t really want to, just to get points in terms of social acceptance.

Think about what is important for you and don’t compromise like this, as you don’t have time to waste into your life.

You should spend time with people that you feel a good connection with, anyway. If you need to go to great lengths in order to be accepted, it’s a good idea to look elsewhere for company. So not really a lot to miss out.

Fear of missing out on fun is also rooted in the social aspect of our life. This what makes us stay at a party although we would rather go home or go to an event just because everybody in our social circle does so.

Social interaction is important. However, make sure that you set things on the right basis. You should not feel that you make sacrifices and need to give-up on your needs and wishes in order to be accepted by your peers.

FOMO and Your Work

When it comes to business opportunities or career development, there are also a lot of options to pursue.

This leads to getting involved into too many projects and to over-commitment. This is why it’s important to analyze things in-depth and get to the root cause of a problem. In this case, if you face a time management challenge caused by over-commitment, it help if you discover that at a deeper level, this is actually caused by FOMO. You will only solve the problem successfully if you address its root cause.

Are There Any Benefic Effects of FOMO?

Despite the negative connotations, within certain limits, FOMO has also some benefits.

Fear of missing out prevents you from being complacent. It forces you to think about ways in which you can improve the current status of things.

Consequently, fear of missing out may motivate us to take action which usually leads to progress in a number of areas in our lives.

The key though is to keep your eyes open and take control of your FOMO. When you start to go beyond the slight concern stage, right into deep anxiety, it’s time to do something about it.

The problem is the FOMO triggers a set of behaviors that can impact your life significantly. You can start spending a lot of time engaged in activities that were triggered by fear of missing out. Your overall productivity may decline. You are in danger to pay less attention and spend less energy moving forward in important areas of your life.

How to Overcome Fear of Missing Out

If you wonder how to deal with fear of missing out, there are a number of powerful tips that can help with that.

  1. Recognize that the perception you have is misleading. All those social media updates present a series of highs in people’s life. Because most of them are so amazing, you are led into thinking that this are the regular ways things are. It’s not true. They are exceptions that are disguised into everyday activities. It’s an artificial universe. The people you see living the magic life also have their lows. If you think about the whole truth behind the glamor, you can develop a more realistic perception.

  2. Be clear on your values, life purpose and priorities. Another common case leading to FOMO is the fact that there are so many opportunities available in any field. If you don’t have a clear direction, it’s difficult to find your way through a maze of potential options. To make things worse, it also seems that the pasture is greener on the other side. Similarly to the first point we discussed above, this is an illusion. The principles are the same. Anything worthy requires a lot of sacrifices. You need to work hard, spend resources and face adversity. With few exceptions, there is no such thing as easy gains.

  3. Go on information detox. A large part of FOMO sufferers are afraid to miss on information. This is what triggers compulsive checking of news sources and updates. Do you really need to stay updated every few hours with what is happening out there? Think about the huge time spent doing this. It’s true that “quick checking” the latest updates does not take a lot of time, but doing a large number of checks adds up massively. Unless you objectively need to stay connected 24/7 and continuously stay updated with what’s going on, set limits!

Photo by: Eric Rice

Happy in Life

How to Be Happy in Life

Happy in LifeMost of us pursue happiness, right?

Sometimes I have a little fun and out of the blue, I throw at people the “Are you happy?” question. Guess what?

Very few say “yes” without any hesitation.

Is it really that difficult to be happy?

What are the drivers of happiness and how can we capitalize on them to be happier?

What Does Happy Feel Like?

I guess you can remember a happy moment from your life. Most probably it is related to someone or something that you love.

You felt like time was frozen and you had a big smile on your face. Life was great.

Unfortunately, that feeling did not last forever…

Which brings us to the next question.

What Does It Take to Be Happy?

We are living under the tyranny of expectations and future projections. We believe we need to have this object, that experience. We need to be with that special one. And THEN, we will be happy.

The problem is that this is a continuously moving target. Even if we get what we want, the intensity of the joy we feel will fade away. It’s just a question of time until we get used to the new status. And then we are back into the race, chasing other experiences, relationships, more money and more objects.

Start living in the present. Enjoy every little moment of your life. Don’t live in the past or in the future and don’t condition your happiness on having this and that.

The Biggest Secret to Happiness

I believe the biggest secret is to follow your heart, stay true to yourself and go after your dreams.

A blog post I read recently covered the top regrets people have when they die. Guess what was sitting at number one?

Not following their dreams…

Don’t live the life of others, trying to tick what is socially recognized as “success”. You don’t need to work extra long hours to make more money, to buy things you don’t have time to use. They will not make you happy in the first place.

Don’t struggle to build a career in a field you hate. It is never too late to reignite the fire within and make your dreams come true.

Tips to Get Happy

If you’re looking for ideas to bring more happiness into your life, here you are:

  • Cultivate relationships with people you “connect” with. We are social beings and the interaction with others is important. When we are around people we love, around positive people we have a deep connection with, the world seems to be a better place. Cultivate these relationships.
  • Find your life purpose. When you lack direction and meaning in your life, it’s very difficult to feel happy. Dedicate some time to clarify what are your values and life purpose. It is totally worth it.
  • Simplify your life. Our modern hectic lives can get a bit crazy sometimes. If you own too many things, you have a lot to worry about. If you over-commit your time, your stress levels will likely go through the roof. Slow down, simplify everything and enjoy life more.
  • Don’t identify yourself with your possessions and/or with your actions. These are part of your life, but you are so much more than that. Your value as a human being is not given by how much money you have in the bank or by how fast you climb the career ladder.
  • Take time to appreciate the small things in life. Enjoy the sunset, a smile, a favorite song, smelling a flower, playing with your pet, taking a walk.
  • Think positively. Life is full of challenges, but you are better off if you don’t make a drama out of everything. Focus on the next steps when you face a problem and don’t keep negativity with you. Solve it and move on. The more positive you stay, the more positivity you attract.

How to Be Happy with What You Have

The truth is that you can feel happy with what you have, doing what you do, being exactly who you are. This is because it’s just a question of mindset.

I admit that there are times when life is difficult. If you think about all the different roles you play though, you are experiencing problems, big or small at any point in time in at least an area of your life.

Thus, if you are at the mercy of circumstances, you will be waiting a long time to be happy.

And funny enough, if we do get to a point where we have no issues, we are not happy because of what we don’t have yet or because of FOMO (fear of missing out).

If you think about it though, what prevents you from being happy is not an event in itself, but your reaction to it. It is not the lack of money, not having a fast sports car or not being involved in a happy relationship that makes you unhappy.

So, if it is your reaction to external stimuli that impacts the way you feel, this is great news. It means that you can take control. If you shift perspective and embrace a new mindset, you can be happier as of today.

Stop comparing yourself to others. Don’t wait until you achieve this or that in order to allow yourself to feel happy. How about deciding right now that you will not depend on external factors to be happy?

Can You Be Happy As a Single?

Being in a fulfilling relationship is important for most people. Therefore, when you are not in such a relationship, you may find it difficult to feel happy.

It’s very true that sharing feelings and experiences with a significant other can add a lot to your life.

On another hand, if you don’t have this into your life at this moment, it is not a reason to feel miserable, unless you allow this to happen.

And it is not the presence of “the other” that should be the primary reason for you to be happy. This would lead to a clingy behavior that doesn’t serve both of you.

How to Live a Happy Life Alone

There is a difference between being alone and being lonely. You can feel lonely even if you are in a relationship or if you are surrounded by a lot of people.

You can definitely be happy with yourself. Don’t deny your right to enjoy life, love, amazing experiences and all the great things in the world.

Don’t focus on the fact that you miss someone in your life, but on making the most out of every single second of your life. When you project positivity, you will attract beneficial experiences that may also include meeting your other half.

How to Be Happy at Work

As you spend a large part of your life at work, I think it is important to do work that is meaningful to you. Ideally, you should do something that you are really passionate about. This may not always possible, but strive for it.

To a minimum, I think you should get away from a work that you hate, if you are in such a situation. Selling your soul for money is not a good idea.

Even if it’s not possible short term, make a plan to go for your dreams. Or at least for a work that you like, even if this means to earn less or accept a career setback.

When you work on something that is in tune with your values and with your passion, it is far easier to feel happy.

How Exercise Makes You Happy

OK, maybe saying that exercising makes you happy is a bit of an overstatement. However, exercising definitely makes you feel good. Do it regularly and you will see that it’s a great mood booster.

How to Be a Happy Couple

Relationships are complex and how to create a happy relationship is a quite comprehensive topic.

However, I would like to share with you my top tips.

  1. The first one is that you need to make sure you’re in the right relationship. It would be difficult to be happy if your significant other is not someone you feel a deep connection with. Otherwise, what would be the point to be in this type of relationship, anyway?
  2. Secondly, if you are in the right relationship, then drop the expectations you have on your partner. You know what I’m talking about. That he should change, that he should do that, that he should show you love in this or that way. Drop all these expectations and simply offer a lot of love yourself. Only good things will happen, trust me.
  3. Stop letting the small stuff get in the way of fully enjoying your relationship. Things are never perfect, but if you are beside the right person, be happy. The challenges you face are not there to prevent you from being happy, but for you to solve them together with your partner.

Don’t postpone feeling happy until you address each and every challenge in your life. Be happy now!

Photo by: tricky (rick harrison)

Work Stress Burnout

Job Stress Burnout

Work Stress Burnout

Nowadays everyone is in danger to burnout, given the fast paced work environments and the high number of challenges we need to face.

The common perception is that you reach the burnout stage as a result of working excessively, in a stressful environment. Job stress burnout, right? This is not far from the truth, but there is more to it than that.

What is burnout?

Burnout is a complex reaction of emotional and physical exhaustion induced by chronic stress.

So burnout is a longer term reaction. If you are experiencing simply a bad day or week at work, this is quite common. However, when there are factors that cause you high stress levels, frustration and exhaustion long term, you need to pay attention.

How do you know if you’re burned out?

There are a few tell signs that you have reached the burnout stage:

  • Chronic exhaustion. You start to feel tired all the time and you don’t have emotional resources to cope easily with yet another week full of problems and stress at work.
  • Low Productivity. Even if this is not something that was common for you before, you tend to have low productivity on a regular basis. Moving complex projects forwards feels daunting.
  • Cynicism. This is a reaction towards work when you are disgruntled. You engage into making cynical comments when it comes to the company, your boss and/or your work.

What are the most common work burnout causes?

  • Overwhelming job demands. You may feel overwhelmed due to the excessive workload, too tight deadlines and/or due to not having the right skill level to perform the job.

  • Lack of social support. When you lack support from your boss or from your colleagues it’s hard to keep your emotional energy levels high.

  • Values and fairness related issues. If you feel that you are not treated in a fair way by your boss or if your role responsibilities are in conflict with your values, you feel more and more frustrated, each day.

  • Lack of proper awards. In order to have a healthy relationship with your work, you need to feel that you receive the right financial, social and intrinsic awards. If they are missing, you feel under-appreciated, especially if you are working hard.

  • Office politics. Office politics can be a tricky game, but it’s not as bad if you take care and actively manage your stakeholders well. Read: How to Survive Office Politics.

What are the job stress burnout effects?

I have already touched upon the main effects above. However, I think it’s worth to take a look at a more comprehensive list of symptoms.

The idea is that the sooner you can spot you are in danger of becoming burned out, the better. You need to start taking action, otherwise it’s just a matter of time until things will go worse.

Here are a few of the burnout tell signs to watch out for:

  • Chronic exhaustion

  • Low productivity

  • Apathy

  • Low job satisfaction

  • Irritability

  • Depressive tendencies

  • Cynicism

  • Chronic demotivation

  • Lack of engagement with your work

Irrespective of any tell signs, if going to work in the morning feels like a burden for a prolonged period of time, investigate further. You have probably already reached the burnout stage.

What Is the Difference Between Stress and Burnout?

Stress and burnout are related, but they are not the same thing.

So what is the difference?

Stress is generally characterized by over-engagement, intense emotions, loss of energy and a tendency to become anxious.

Burnout on another hand is related to disengagement, loss of motivation, loss of hope and direction and a tendency to become depressive.

How to Prevent Burnout

You need to become effective at managing stress. This is the key measure to protect yourself. Read: 101 tips to beat stress.

Here are a few ideas to consider:

  • Exercise regularly. Exercising has a positive effect on your mood. It also increases your resistance to stress, so it’s one of the best actions you can take.
  • Learn relaxation techniques. Ten minutes of meditation in the morning and in the evening can do wonders. Even a few simple breathing exercises can help ease away the tension.
  • Dedicate time to a hobby. You don’t necessarily need to spend massive amounts of time with this, but a hobby can greatly boost your mood.
  • Set limits. There is no limit to the amount of work you can do, unless you set one. You need to realize that each time you overwork, you give-up some other important part of your life. You do need time to grow, to relax, to be around your loved ones.

Stress Burnout Recovery

It is far better to recognize burnout signs early and take vigorous action to avoid it.

However, if you already reached this stage, recognize that burnout is an alarm signal that something is not working in an important area of your life.

On one hand, you need to take the right action to heal and recover. On another hand, this is an opportunity to rebuild the foundation of your life. Yes, it can be a painful process. However, the changes it triggers may lead you to live a much more fulfilling life.

  • Slow down. Immediately upon becoming aware that you reached the burnout stage, you need to slow down. This is a must. Find ways to cut on your commitments and cut as many stress sources as possible from your life. If feasible, take a vacation.

  • Get support from your close ones. If there is a time when you need support from your family and your friends, this is it. It is quite common to have the tendency to withdraw and stay by yourself. However, resist this tendency, because deep down you do need the emotional support from others.

  • Take time to reconsider your life priorities. Dedicate time to clarify your life purpose, your values and priorities. It is very probable that you reached burnout as a result of not living in accordance with your values. This is your wake-up call! You may need to change your career, your job or make some other big impact decision. Take your time before making any changes. You don’t need to drive even more stress into your life now. But start doing your homework, so that you can make the right moves when you are ready.

 

Photo by: Marsmettnn Tallahassee

 

 

Stress at Work

Ways to Reduce Stress at Work

Stress at Work

I had my share of stress at work and I know how big of an impact this can have on your life. Let’s face it, you spend quite some time working, right? There will be a lot of stressful situations coming your way. That’s why I thought it’s worth exploring a number of great ways to reduce stress at work.

10 Tips to Reduce Work Related Stress

It’s not realistic to expect you can completely eliminate stressful situations. However, you can reduce it significantly if you put to good use the tips below:

  1. Do work you love. This is the most powerful tip of all. When you love what you do, you don’t even feel like working. It’s far easier to face challenges and succeed in anything you pursue, despite adversity. This may not apply to you right now. However, think about it. What if you make all the changes in your life so that you start doing what you love?

  2. Stress-busting rituals. I’ve used this with great success. Have a morning, pre-work ritual that fills you up with positive energy. It can be only 5 or 10 minutes long, but it works. For example you can meditate or stretch. Then, it’s also good to have a mid-day ritual to renew energy and motivation. Take a short 5-10 minute break and so something you love. You can for example listen to a great song, take a breath of fresh air or read a few inspiring quotes.

  3. Work according to your own biorhythm. If you push yourself to the max throughout the day, you will be exhausted. We all have certain energy level patterns that if we take into account, we maximize productivity and minimize stress. If for example you work best in the morning, plan to work on your most difficult projects in the morning. Cut interruptions and focus on those projects.

  4. Don’t over-commit. This is one of the most common stress causes at work. When your to-do list is full to the max and you keep squeezing-in even more tasks, you are asking for trouble. Apply prioritization ruthlessly and allow some time for unexpected events. I know this is difficult to implement, but keep trying and you will become better at it.

  5. Avoid sleep deprivation. The quality of our sleep has a big impact on our ability to deal with stress. This is especially true long term. If you always miss a few hours of sleep per night, you will find it increasingly difficult to face stress. Moreover, your productivity goes down, which in turn generates projects delays and even more stress. So do yourself a favor and take action to put your sleep patterns in order.

  6. Don’t take yourself too seriously. A lot of of people are living a drama everyday. Hey, this is just a job in the end! Even if building a successful career is very important for you, remember one thing. You are a complex human being and life is more that your career. I’m not advocating to go to extremes, of course. Some situations are really serious and should be treated as such. But sometimes it pays off to be in-touch with your sense of humor and take it easy.

  7. Take breaks regularly. You don’t need to take long breaks, but it’s important to take them regularly. Every hour or so, take a short five minute break. Then, every few hours take a longer break. This is easy to implement and it makes a big difference in the way you feel.

  8. Take care of your body. When you take breaks, it’s not a bad idea to go for a breath of fresh air or stretch a bit. If you work in front of a computer, take a look outside the window to relax your eyes. Maybe also use some natural tear drops. Eat regularly, ideally healthy food and drink plenty of water.

  9. Manage conflicts assertively. Conflicts are likely to generate a lot of stress, so you need to have an effective approach on how to deal with them. Be constructive and assertive. There’s no benefit in spending too much of your emotional energy with this. Learn to resolve conflicts positively.

  10. Become more comfortable with ambiguity. Truth be told, it’s impossible to control everything. Therefore, you need to become more flexible in dealing with change and ambiguous situations. Accept that you don’t have full control and you will become less tensed.

How to Deal with High Pressure Work Environments

The key is to drastically reduce the impact external environment has on the way you feel. Normally, what happens around us has a big impact on our overall mood and stress level. However, the fact that this is very common, does not mean that it is a good approach. It’s just that this is the default state for everybody, unless specific action is taken to change the status quo.

The problem is that when external events determine the way you feel, you have no control. You are at the mercy of circumstances. This is an important insight, especially in the context of a high pressure environment. If you let your environment get to you, than it is for sure that your stress level will go through the roof.

First you need to recognize that you do have a choice in terms of your response to stimuli. Don’t let this happen automatically. Take control of the process. There is a small delay between anything that happens and your response.

Assess how you currently react to the high pressure work events. Then think of alternative behaviors which would be effective in terms of results, but also in terms of reducing the pressure on your side.

Let’s say for example that you have a very busy agenda and all of a sudden in the morning you have a crisis on your key project. Moreover, to top things off, your boss calls for an urgent meeting in a few hours and a VP of the company asks urgently for a report that takes a lot of work. It looks like this day will be pretty stressful, right? You would probably start to hyperventilate and feel tensed.

On one hand there is the question of what is the most effective way to manage the situation, from a time and project management points of view. However, the stress you feel is caused by the emotional reaction to the crisis and to feeling overwhelmed by too many commitments and pressures within a limited period of time.

First, put things into perspective. How important would be this crisis in 5 years time? How about in 30 years time? When something like this happens, it becomes the center of our universe. However, when we take a helicopter view and take ourselves out of the situation, we are able to keep our cool and focus on the facts and on the best way forwards.

Another step to take is to adapt quickly to changes, recognize that you are over-committed and cut, postpone and/or delegate part of the items on your agenda. Then, prioritize the rest who make in on your to-do list for the day.

These two steps will reduce the emotional impact of the situation. Then focus on calmly managing the specific tasks in the best way possible. Don’t expect to be perfect, but to be your best.

This is just an example, to illustrate the idea of creating a disconnection between the negative impact of your high pressure work environment on your emotional state. Once you achieve this, apply the generic ten stress relief tips shared above.

Is Your Relationship With Your Boss Causing You Stress?Stressful Boss

The way you interact with your boss determines to a large degree how stressed you feel at work.

Do you feel your boss treats you fairly? Do you get coaching and support? Are you demotivated? How is your current relationship with your boss?

One important element is that it is not only the boss who manages you, but it is also you who should manage your boss.

Try to understand your boss at a very deep level. Don’t think only from the perspective of a boss – direct report relationship. What are the objectives of your boss, career goals, concerns and so on?

Try to support the way your boss is perceived within the company, make a significant contribution to advancing his/her agenda and you will see how magic starts to happen for you, as well.

If this approach doesn’t work, try to find a mentor within the company, in order to get inspiration and advice.

What Are the Most Frequent Situations That Cause Stress at Work?

There are a lot of situations that can trigger stress in a work environment:

  • Excessive workload
  • Stretch timings
  • Tensed work relationships
  • Change
  • Specific problems with certain projects
    Etc

It is important to address both the factual causes and our emotional reaction to them. The first type of action reduces the pressure we feel from outside and the second type of action improves the way we handle stress inside.

In any case, getting good a managing your reaction to stressful events is a must have skill. This is completely under your control, unless stressful events, which are not.

How to Deal with Fear of Being Laid Off

The truth is that no job is safe nowadays. Going for a corporate career gave to many a false sense of security. There is no such thing. The pace of change is huge and the perspective of being laid off for various reasons is not so distant, irrespective of what you are doing.

Whether you are an employee or an entrepreneur, you need an entrepreneurial approach in order to survive in today’s environment.

Here are a few ideas to alleviate stress caused by unemployment fear:

  • Try to think in advance and reduce your dependence over an employer.
  • Invest in your skills, so that it’s easier to find another job if need be.
  • Make savings, so that you feel less pressure short term if you are laid off.
  • Think of freelancing projects you could work on if you are forced to do this short term. It is totally possible to earn a full-time income via sites such as eLance.com.
  • Build several streams of income, ideally semi-passive. Have you considered building an online business on the side for example? You could work one hour per day and your efforts would add-up long-term.

Don’t let stress get to you. Put the tips above into practice and you will start to see improvements in the way you feel. Work is only a part of your life. Take action to achieve balance and you will live a more fulfilling life.

Photo by: Michael, GDS-Productions