It’s no secret that work is stressful. But sometimes stress transforms into anxiety. When it gets out of control, stress can be debilitating. You can often find yourself overwhelmed by the scope of work you have to complete. Instead of plowing away at your to-do list, you’re paralyzed by indecision; fraught with worry because you simply have too much to do. The good news is that you can use that stress to your advantage. In fact, it can actually help you become more productive.
First, it’s important to realize that your stress is a good thing. Though it might not feel that way, stress (as a reaction to professional challenges) quickens your heart rate and improves your focus. Stress is natural when you face adversity, and as long as you don’t believe it’s harmful, it won’t be. It’ll actually keep you on your toes and give you that extra boost to succeed.
After you’ve accepted that stress is an everyday thing, get everything down on paper. You have a lot of tasks and responsibilities. Thinking about the sum of the parts can often be the thing that pushes you over the edge. Writing everything down is a way to free your mind. Plus, you’ll be able to compartmentalize and organize your tasks. Instead of feeling weighed down by jumbled thoughts, you’ll have a visual in front of you that you can use as a working document.
Start taking action on this list. You now have a clear view of what needs to be done. You have the ability to start checking things off. Think of your worry as the ultimate productivity hack. In order to get rid of it, you have to start working and solving problems. The more you start digging in, the better you’ll feel.
If you develop some doubt along the way, put some steps in place to ensure you don’t fail. If you’re worried about missing an important meeting, set multiple alarms and reminders. If you’re concerned that you’ll miss your 8 a.m. deadline, plan to get the document done the night before and send it over early. It’s easy to worry about all the ways that you can mess up. But it’s also usually easy to take small precautions and ensure the missteps don’t happen.
Sometimes, the best way to handle it all is to step away. When you’re dealing with a stressful situation, further immersing yourself in it isn’t always the best course of action. Take 10 or 15 minutes to step outside. Get some fresh air and take some deep breaths. Grab a coffee. Have a snack. Call a friend. Do something that isn’t work-related for a brief period of time to free up space in your mind. When you get back to your desk, you’ll have a fresh perspective, and you’ll be ready to start over.
If all else fails, consider this. Huffington Post reported that stress is an indication that your life has meaning. In one psychological survey, the people who had the highest levels of stress were also those who believed their lives were the most meaningful. Stress is an indication of how much you care about your job and your success. It can be hard to think about stress positively in the moment, but it means you’re living a good life.
Stress doesn’t have to be this intangible monster that you battle. It can be a useful driving force in your everyday life that can push you to professional success. With the right mindset and some simple actions, you can channel your stress into your highest level of productivity.