How can you deal with repetitive tasks

Redefining Stress: How to Use Pressure to Live More Productively

Everyone experiences stress in the course of their life. However, to different extents. Be it through the job, the demands of running and expanding a business or a private life that sometimes demands everything from us.

Uncontrolled stress is a problem that often leads to even more problems. He can z. B. affects your sleep, which in turn affects your performance. And if it is not actively addressed, this can cause even more stress and thus lead directly into a vicious circle.

However, the statement "stress is bad" is an over-quoted and oversimplified view of this problem.

Our relationship with stress is actually far more complex. It's not just about how we overcome stress, but how we understand it, deal with it, and actively use it to lead a more productive life.

What causes stress?

According to psychologist Walter Cannon, who coined the concept of “fight or flight”, the primary function of stress is self-preservation.

In many cases, it is a useful response to a challenge or threat that enables us mentally and physically to cope with it. Stress affects our brain chemistry in ways that can lead to better alertness, increased cognitive activity, and even sharpen our senses.

In other cases, where stress has no practical purpose or lasts longer than necessary, it can be disruptive and have negative overall consequences.

Ultimately, stress describes how we react to stress factors, i.e. to actual or perceived challenges in fulfilling our actual or perceived needs.

Stress factors can be external or internal:

  • External stressors are changes in your environment, your working conditions, a completely unfamiliar and frightening task that you have to complete, or events that are usually beyond your control (e.g. deadlines, a rainy day, or bills to be paid).

  • Internal stressors usually include thoughts or behaviors, such as B. how well you eat and sleep or feelings of anger and fear.

The important thing is: not all forms of stress are created equal! Rather, it can be divided into two main types: acute stress and chronic stress.

Acute stress can give you super powers

We all know this type of stress. It is the stress that wakes us up and draws our attention to the challenges or thrills of the present day. It is this stress that can be useful when we are faced with real risk with real consequences (like an important deadline).

If you z. For example, if you like to put things on the back burner out of habit, you have probably got used to only really getting going with a certain amount of acute stress. And that usually means a tight deadline, the breath of which you can already feel on your neck. So when you look at it from that angle, lack of time is just a "stressor" that leads to a productive amount of stress.

However, episodic or frequent stress, such as is often found in a chaotic lifestyle, can "overstimulate" your mind. This in turn is disruptive, counterproductive and can lead to burnout.

Chronic stress has a negative impact on your quality of life

This is exactly what talking about bad stress is about - stress that drains us over time. It is often the result of persistent environmental conditions, such as a job you dislike, an unhealthy relationship, or financial stress.

Chronic stress can affect the quality of your sleep and actually accelerate aging. Unfortunately, we cannot always address the causes of chronic stress in our lives. However, as mentioned earlier, stress is the way we respond to stressors. And this is something we can control at least to some extent.

Good stress vs. bad stress

Not all stress is bad.

Some people thrive under stress and need the right amount of pressure before moving on to the next task. Others plan carefully to avoid unnecessary stress at all costs. Neither of these approaches is right or wrong. It is just important to be clear about how you personally react to stress and what the essence of the task at hand is.

The right amount of stress can help you be more productive in some cases. In addition, it would be difficult for us to find the necessary concentration for certain tasks without any stress. It goes without saying, however, that too much stress can lead to excessive arousal, which in turn can lead to frustration, anxiety, depression, impaired performance and other negative consequences.

According to Yerkes-Dodson Law, work that requires perseverance (routine and very simple tasks, or those that require a significant amount of time) can benefit from increased stress levels. However, it is true that you can concentrate better on new or unfamiliar tasks without too much pressure.

Coping with Stress: 6 Strategies You Should Try

Now that we understand a bit about what causes stress and how it affects our lives, we can look at some strategies for dealing with it more effectively.

It is no accident that the following concepts, in one way or another, not only encourage us to change our perspective, but also the way we use our most precious resource: time.

1. Set priorities: what is important before what is urgent

Work and everyday commitments can make it difficult to do without a full to-do list. And with so much to do, it can be difficult figuring out where to start - especially when every task seems equally important.

If you want to manage stress effectively, it is precisely for this reason that it is so important to have a reliable process for prioritizing your own workload.

It can be easy to prioritize the work based on its level of difficulty or the amount of time it takes. However, a popular method is to evaluate each individual task based on two criteria:

  1. importance: Does the assignment help you achieve your own personal and professional goals?
  2. urgency: Does the task have to be completed shortly and will ignoring it have negative consequences?

"The principle of priority states that (a) you have to know the difference between urgent and important, and (b) you should do what is important first."

- Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

This is part of the so-called Eisenhower principle or the importance / urgency matrix:

The next time you feel under land and overwhelmed, you should draw this matrix on a piece of paper. You may find that this works a lot better than a classic to-do list.

This simple tool will help you uncover the true value of your assignments and answer the question of whether an assignment really gets you closer to your goals.

So you first determine what is both important and urgent. Such tasks are characterized by their value and their time-sensitive nature, which is why you should do them first.

After that, you should determine what is important, but not urgent. However, these tasks can become urgent if they are left behind for too long. It is therefore advisable to at least begin it and thus provide a solid foundation.

Then you can find out what is not important, but urgent for it. These are typically tasks like answering emails, attending meetings, and paying bills on time. They're not the most significant tasks on your to-do list, but they are time-sensitive. So if you feel overwhelmed, you shouldn't let these tasks throw you off track. Because if you don't do them, this will ultimately get you on the way to your goals Not affect.

Ultimately, we have tasks that are neither important nor urgent. These are tasks that you can often say "no" to with no real consequences. When considering what to put off or reject outright, this is the first thing to look at.

2. Say "No" often

Saying “yes” to unknown opportunities can be the recipe for a rich and interesting life. However, if you want to live a more productive life, saying “no” is key.

Are you more of a person who likes to say “yes” and whose standard reaction to a request for a favor is an affirmative nod of the head? Then it certainly happens often that you expect too much and are sometimes overwhelmed.

It makes no sense to have a full plate all the time and it also overflows. Such a state can distract you from the things that are actually important to you. By using the decision-making matrix described above, you can identify unimportant tasks that, in most cases, you can reject with no problems.

Saying no can be difficult, especially when you feel an obligation to help others. However, you cannot care for others or do your best job without taking care of yourself first.

If you are overwhelmed and still say yes to everything, you should use the heuristic method of TED speaker Derek Sivers:

If you don't say "YES, IN ALL CASES!" say, then say "no".

3. Change your attitude towards fitness training

The goal of fitness training doesn't have to be the pursuit of the perfect physique. Instead, you should see it as an effective support for your mind and well-being.

Exercise releases endorphins, which act as your body's natural pain relievers. This can relieve tension and improve the quality of your sleep, which in turn reduces your stress levels. This effect can be achieved with just 5 minutes of cardio training. Making exercise a part of your life can change the way you respond to stress.

Similarly, you can train your mind with mindfulness meditation. Studies have shown that meditation can give you more control over how your mind reacts to internal stressors (such as the unproductive thoughts that cause anxiety).

4. Take regular time off

In a study on social media and stress carried out by the American Psychological Association, it was found that intensive users complained of a higher level of stress compared to the more sporadic users of the various social networks.

In particular, those study participants who constantly checked their e-mails reported the often highest stress levels.

Technology enables us to do more and has become something we can no longer do without. At the same time, it's something that keeps us in touch with our work and everything else that's going on in the world.

Therefore, you should get away from social media every now and then - and this is especially true when you are in a state of overwhelm.

  • Turn off notifications on your phone and other devices for a while.
  • Use the Stay Focused Chrome extension to block social media websites for a certain period of time.

5. Automate and outsource as much as possible

Just letting go of things for once - relinquishing control - doesn't mean you are taking a step back at the same time. It's much more about empowering yourself by taking your own time and attention back so that you can invest that in the things that really matter.

By spending just five minutes to an hour automating and outsourcing some of your current processes, you can permanently reduce your stress levels.

Look at z. B. Use services like IFTTT (for your personal life) and Zapier (for your professional life) to reduce the time and effort you spend on repetitive tasks.

When it comes to outsourcing, you can try to employ a virtual assistant via the Fancy Hands (for everyday tasks) or Zirtual (for entrepreneurs) platforms to take care of your administrative tasks.

Make it a habit to regularly evaluate your repetitive processes to make them simpler and thus reduce the effort required. It's just a small investment of time, but it will bring huge long-term benefits.

6. Start with something that you personally find useful

In French, the term "raison d'etre" is used. In Japanese it is called "Ikigai". In German we would probably speak of "meaning and purpose". It is a concept that exists in many different cultures and languages. Whatever we call it, however, this is about the idea of ​​having something meaningful that you can always look forward to.

Putting it all on one card can be dangerous for your well-being - whether it's about your job, a relationship, or something else. If something goes wrong here, it can hardly be made up for without other things to focus on in your life.

It may seem counterproductive at first to take on more work to make your life more relaxed. However, it should be said again at this point: Stress does not mean how much work you have, but how you deal with it.

Whether painting, writing, running a blog, a course, starting a side business or participating in a meetup: you can have something that you can always control, especially when life gets out of hand again provide a permanent outlet for pent-up stress.

Working creatively in particular can help you recover from the stress caused by all of the other work, reducing the potential and frequency of burnout.

Understand the role of stress

Sometimes stress can be a burden that seems beyond your control. But often stress can also be a powerful source of productive energy.

Redefining our relationship with stress and becoming aware of when we are overwhelmed and not feeling the right amount of pressure for us is perhaps the best productivity ploy there is.

Because stress is not inherently bad. Last but not least, it is one of the reasons why we are still here. So change the way you think about stress to lead a better, less hectic life.

Lead photo by Pim Chu on Unsplash.

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Posted by Hendrik Breuer:Hendrik is the editor of the German Shopify blog. Do you want to publish a guest post? Then please read this guide first.

This article by Braveen Kumar originally appeared in English on the blog and was translated by Philipp Dukatz.

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