How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! The same goes for any seemingly impossible task. And doesn’t the list of stressors sometimes feel impossible? It does for me. So, first things first and one bite at a time, here are five simple steps you can take to reduce your business stress.
1) Remember that the feeling of being overwhelmed is a symptom of stress, not the cause of it! This seems counter-intuitive, but I know that there is always more on my desk to do than I can possibly do in a day. Some days this feels like great deal flow, plenty to do and the excitement of growing a business. Some days it feels like stress, overwhelm and just way too much to think about. The difference in those two perspectives is often how I’ve been taking care of myself.
When you are feeling completely overwhelmed, do the counter-intuitive and address your stress directly: take a walk, invite a friend to coffee, schedule a massage, go to the movies, anything that helps your mind and body relax for a brief period of time. Then go back to your desk with a fresh perspective!
2) Write a list of the things that have been really killing you. Usually these are the things that have been on the list for a forever amount of time that you think about every day and never can seem to get to. Recognize that you will never “get to” these things. So you have two choices. First, you can decide that if you never get to it, perhaps it’s not that important. If that’s the case, drop it from your list and from your mind.
Or, if you’ve determined this thing you’ve not been getting to is truly important, then look at your calendar and schedule a specific block of time to work on that thing. Write it in pen, block it out of office, do whatever you need to ensure this is a commitment you intend to keep. Then, every time you think of it, instead of feeling guilty or overdue, just remember “oh yes, I’m going to take care of that next xxx date and time”. You’ll be amazed at the freedom in this tool!
3) Identify just one specific thing that you want to resolve to remove an on-going frustration or stressor. Big or small, set that particular thing out in front of you and decide, I’m going to work through this piece so that it does not recur. Then set a time to really map out a plan of action to reduce or eliminate that frustration. Be specific. Define the following:
- What will the result be when I have eliminated this frustration, what will my new systems or tools provide so that I no longer have this experience. Be specific, envision a successful future.
- Write a list of all the things that need to change to eliminate this frustration. This is a list of the big picture pieces, the big rocks in the new environment.
- Now put your list of things that need to change into priority order. Is one dependent on another? Are there some steps that are easy and can be accomplished right away? Put those first.
- Next look at the first item on the list. Set a detailed plan of action and timeline for accomplishing that piece. Take the action and know you’ve made progress on this particular frustration.
- At the accomplishment of each of your big rocks, set a detailed plan of action and timeline for accomplishing the next piece. Each time you close out one of your big rocks on the path to eliminating this particular frustration, celebrate for a moment. You’re eliminating stress, one small project or task at a time.