Too much stress
Of course, it had to happen. As the perceptive blog reader probably have noticed, I didn’t publish a blog post last week. Reason: Stress. Yes, real hair-falling-out-and-not-being-productive-at-all kind of stress. And I did see it coming. Moving to a new place, finding an office, networking, going to conferences, blogging, and everything in between is a lot (some would say too much) to do almost all at once.I’m proud of my achievements so far, BUT for me being stressed out for a longer period of time does have a lot of negative effects, from loss of sleep to not paying attention to details.
So, I consider this a serious slap on the wrist, and I thought about what I can do to prevent being stressed out like this again. How can I regain focus, and become more creative and productive (the first victims of stress) again? Here are what I discovered I need in my work life:
1. Spend time on reflection and reviewing
While meetings, connections, conferences, and research counts for a lot, there are two thing I have, foolishly, completely neglected: Reflection and reviewing. Basically meaning, summing up what I’ve done, how it was done, how I felt, and what I need to do in the future.
It might sound incredibly obvious, but I haven’t put down in my calendar or made a habit of it. And what happens when something is not part of my routine? I forget all about it.
To me, reflection and reviewing is not on a nice-to-have-basis. I discovered that it is something I need to make time for every day. So, what are the first steps?
First, write a work diary: Scientist, Teresa Amabile, did an experiment with people writing a daily entry in their personal work diary. Her findings showed that the work diary served as an incredible valuable tool to capture events and moods and track progress, so valuable in fact that she got thank you notes from people in her test group, telling her how much better their work life had become just by reflecting on their day for a few minutes.
Secondly, I need to set aside half a workday for reviewing my weekly performance. And not just mentally setting aside time, but writing it physically down in my calendar. The argument behind it is simple: How can you make sure to do better job each week, if you don’t review your tasks and methods?
2. Learn how to say NO!
Well, maybe not with a capital letters, but still. I’m a yay-sayer and a people-pleaser by nature. Everything(!) is interesting and exciting, and I don’t want to say no to people. Learning how to say ‘no’ is not very comfortable for me, but, again, completely necessary.
I started meditating about a year and a half ago. It’s one of the best things I’ve learned. Period. It’s my no. 1 activity to prevent stress. It’s like clearing my mental browser history. I know there are a lot of apps for guided meditations out there, but for me the purest, non-tech form of meditation works the best.
4. Calendar Management
Those, who know me, probably wouldn’t put “structured” down as one of my outstanding qualities. Being innovative and creative, somehow takes away from being structured. However, you can’t be creative for a longer period time AND still keep track of everything without sticking to a structure. Meaning: I have to learn some serious calendar management skills.