Ten Ways to Fight Stress

No matter how much you like your job, your kids, or your life in general, we all have those days.  Here are ten tips for keeping stress at bay.

1.  Take a brisk walk (or quick jog) to start the day or during breaks throughout the day.

Several studies have shown that those who start their day with a morning jog or exercise have less stress and burn more fat throughout the day.  If you aren’t able to jog, start with a brisk walk around your neighborhood.

Take periodic breaks throughout the day and walk around your neighborhood or office building.  I keep a pair of slip-on athletic shoes at work so I can easily and quickly put them on without worrying about socks or tying laces.

Continue reading “Ten Ways to Fight Stress”

Increasing Your Focus

The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins

If you are like me, you constantly feel as if your attention is being pulled in several different directions.  Most of us wear several different hats at work, and have to constantly be ready to switch gears depending upon what is going on that five minutes.  This is especially true if you work with multiple clients.

For example, so far by 11:00 this morning I had:

  • responded to multiple client questions in person
  • responded to multiple client questions via e-mail
  • answered incoming calls at the front desk while the receptionist was on break
  • logged incoming FedEx packages
  • fixed a leaky sink faucet
  • started typing a blog entry

And I wouldn’t even classify this as a “busy” day.

Sometimes having to switch hats quickly will result in difficulty with focusing, which can leave you feeling overwhelmed.

Work toward increasing your focus with these suggestions from the March 2012 edition of the Mayo Clinic’s EmbodyHealth newsletter:

  1. Screen out distractions. Start by turning off the TV, putting down your phone, and logging out of email.  Not convinced it’ll help?  Try this experiment:  Eliminate noncritical screen time for two days and see how much more you get done.
  2. Plan for peaks and valleys.  Are you a morning person?  Then don’t squander that time on email.  Instead use it to tackle projects that require your full concentration.  Low energy in the afternoon?  That’s the time to go through your inbox or catch up on your filing.
  3. Put it out of your mind.  Too many mental notes make for a cluttered mind.  All that unfinished business saps your mental energy.  So dump it.  Put whatever’s on your mind on paper or capture it digitally.  Think of it as off-site storage.
  4. Train your brain.  Any skill worth having requires practice.  Learning to focus is no different.  Invest time in mastering attention training or meditation – both are great ways to practice taming distractions and improving focus.
  5. What’s the payoff?  Not only will you get more done, you’ll also enjoy more flow – when you’re so absorbed in an activity that nothing else seems to matter.  Flow creates a sense of fulfillment and engagement and, yes, even contentment.

Find out how to get the Mayo Clinic EmbodyHealth Newsletter for your company.

Office Tips from PPEC – Declutter Your Messy Desk!

If you are like me, you broke out in hives looking at the above picture.  I am, by no means, a super organized person.  I have my piles and I know where stuff is in them.  But THAT?!?  THAT is insanity.  If I had to come in and look at that every day, I think I’d just spend all day crying at my desk.

A messy desk can distract you from tasks at hand and make you lose your focus.  Follow these tips to keep clutter to a minimum and productivity high.

  1. Work from the inside out.  Put your to-do pile on the side of your desk farthest from your office door and place completed items, such as finished reports and signed forms, on the side closest to the door.  That way, when you get up you can take the finished work and drop it off where it needs to go, such as the mail bin or filing cabinet.
  2. Make a “Work in Progress” folder.  Need an answer from someone before you can file a paper or mark an item off your to-do list?  Keep these items together in a separate file.  Use a Pendaflex folder or file sorter to keep these stragglers organized.
  3. File papers in a timely manner.  Keep a “Ready to File” folder or bin for papers to be filed.  Choose a set time – either daily or weekly – to do all of your filing.  That way you aren’t wasting time by running to the filing cabinet every 15 minutes.
  4. Stay on top of your mail.  Toss junk and catalogs immediately.  Sort the rest into three categories:  immediate action, follow-up, and file.  Put mail requiring immediate action into your to-do pile.  Put mail requiring follow-up into your “Work in Progress” folder.  Put items to file in your “Ready to File” folder.
  5. Take advantage of wall space.  Use bulletin boards to hold items you need to refer to often, such as calendars, phone lists or other contact information, and memos.

There, isn’t this much better?