1. Clear the clutter around you
Disorder and clutter are the primary sources of the feeling of not being on “top of things.” Messy workspaces can quickly get out of hand and drag you down. Conquer clutter by processing each paper or object at your desk by asking, “Why is this here?” Consider throwing things away; ask, “What is the worst that could happen if I dispose of this?” Organize, simplify, and setup an environment that works for you.
2. Stretch at your desk or brisk walk
Interrupt your deskbound lifestyle by practicing a few exercises right at your desk, walking up a few flights by stairs, or brisk walking around your office block. Simple workouts can revive your energy, prevent afternoon slumps, help you think more clearly, and help control anxiety.
3. Get caught-up on your email and remain caught-up
Given the pervasiveness of email in our lives, regulating email, remaining responsive and productive about email are critical soft-skills for any knowledge worker. Empty your inbox everyday by using following productivity guru Merlin Mann’s ‘Process to Zero’ and ‘Inbox Zero’ techniques. Systematize your email habits by deleting, archiving, responding or delegating every email in your inbox.
4. Embark on a “10-Minute Dash” to conquer procrastination
Not finishing what you have started can be a source of stress and anxiety. Pick a task that you have been putting off, turn on your favorite music, sip your favorite beverage, and work on that task for just ten minutes without any interruption. You will probably find that the seemingly difficult task gets easier once you start working on it. This “10-minute dash” technique can build momentum, get you into the “flow,” and motivate you to work and complete the task.
5. Write a “thank-you” note
In today’s fast-paced world, it is easy to forget to repay kindness with gratitude. Thank-you notes not only help people feel appreciated for things they do to for you, but can also motivate them to do more for you in the future (this secondary reason should not be the key motivation for your attitude of gratitude.) When writing a thank-you note, mention what the other person did for you, how it was relevant, and how much you appreciate their help.
6. Tend to your network
Tending to your professional and social network is not as time-consuming as you might expect. Invest ten minutes each day to email or ring a friend or two, perhaps even to say a quick hello. Cultivate and maintain a strong network. Remember people’s birthdays and anniversaries and reach out to them on their special days. Avoid contacting people only when you need something from them.
7. Update your résumé or your list of achievements
Most professionals tend to procrastinate on keeping their résumés updated. Do not expect to pull your résumé together when you need one and expect it to work efficiently. Spend ten minutes updating your résumé by adding details from your latest projects and assignments. Try to review each section and question yourself, “Is this section relevant? Is there anything more worthwhile that I could replace this section with?” Keeping your résumé updated can reduce the anxiety of preparing an impressive résumé at short notice.
8. Walk the floor, talk to your customers, and seek their ideas
Companies and leaders who excel at customer service talk to customers on a regular basis and follow-up scrupulously. Simply walk the floor for ten minutes or pick-up the phone and talk to a customer or two. Ask customers how your product or service has been of value to them, seek to understand their needs, run your ideas past them, and incorporate their views to design/improve your product or service. Going the extra mile to reach out to a customer can have a big impact on customer loyalty.
9. Look for easy ways to simplify your life
Differentiate between activity and achievement. Rather than finding ways to squeeze more activities into your life, find ways to leave out some things. Focus on things that actually need to be done and eliminate anything that does not fit your immediate priorities. Ask for help, delegate, and lower your standards. Plan for the next day or the week ahead and prepare to-do lists to get things off your mind.
10. Take a break and chill out
When you feel overwhelmed, take ten minutes to rest, relax, and clear your mind. Meditate, listen to music, catch up on news or sports, play with your pet, take a short map, look out of the window, or do something else that can benefit you the most. Stepping out of the moment of busyness can lower your blood pressure, slow down your breathing and heart rate, and bring about psychological changes that can reduce the harmful effects of stress and worry.
Bonus: Put your own needs first
When you are overwhelmed with the demands on your time at work and at home, try to examine if you tend to succumb instinctively to the pressure and put others needs ahead of your own. While it is virtuous to be selfless and attend to the needs of others, devoting too much of your own time to others can become an impediment to your own happiness. Consider constructing boundaries on your time and try to think of at least one activity you can stop, or one task that you cancel at once. Do not become a victim of your own generosity. Taking care of your own needs first is not about being selfish; it is rather about being fair to yourself. Exercise your right to protect your own time and interests.
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