How to be Productive During Times of Stress
The end of the academic year can be a time of increased stress for many of us. Saying goodbye to one class and welcoming a new one means an increase in our workload and being productive is paramount in making sure that everything gets done on time.
There are as many ways to deal with stress as there are people and one method might work for one person but not the other. Researchers have found that the mental strain of stress has a direct correlation with the physical effects of stress, so dealing with the mental will help with the physical. Shawn Anchor (author of The Happiness Advantage and Before Happiness) conducted a study on the mindset of stress and found that:
“If we could get someone to change their mindset around stress to see it as a challenge instead of as a threat, they had 23% fewer stress-related symptoms like headaches, backaches, and fatigue. The stress was still there, but the effect upon the body was completely changed. So stress is inevitable, but its effects on us are not.”
Changing your mindset as to how you view your work may then influence how productive you could be during your high-stress periods. So how can you look at your growing tasks list as a challenge? You can start by reviewing what your process is, what steps you take to complete your tasks. Look to see if anything can be modified or streamlined. If you are new to the job but have similar experiences, see if any improvements can be made, your fresh eyes can bring a whole new perspective on how to complete the task. We get accustomed to doing things as they’ve always been done but this mindset can hinder us from thinking outside the box and improving systems that may need improving.
This doesn’t mean that you have to make radical changes all at once, but small changes can help your efficiency and thus your productivity. An example of this would be, instead of sending a paper invitation to graduation or other events, consider sending an electronic invitation (e-vites). We did this last year in our department, and it saved me hours and hours of stuffing envelopes, distributing the invitation and running after people to get their RSVP’s.
The stress will always be there, sadly it's unavoidable, but changing your perception and permitting yourself to make small changes that can improve your efficiency and cut the time you spend doing these tasks can allow you to be more productive which in turn should cut back on your level of stress. A true circle of life.