Three Secrets to Being Productive and Stress Free

Today’s Women’s Money Week topic is Finding Time & Increasing Productivity. A topic that we all struggle with so much.

Living in a high-tech world of gadgets that keep us connected to the beck-and-call of work, family, friends, and Facebook, often leaves us feeling overwhelmed and drained. As a mom of three kids, I’m always running from daycare to school, work, and practices to come home to housework, homework, and paperwork. Just keeping track of who needs to be where at what time is a job in an of itself.

When we’re overwhelmed, we’re short tempered with those we love, we’re tired and don’t take time for us, we may shop, eat, or drink to distract us from the stress, we don’t value our goals, and we don’t value ourselves. In a nut-shell, when we’re overwhelmed we don’t make great decisions. Nothing goes the way it’s supposed to and we feel like everything in the world is working against us.

Here are three things you can do to overcome feeling overwhelmed:

  1. Recreation:

    Things can get very crazy around here at FatWallet, especially during Q4, but we plan things to help us diffuse the overwhelm from time to time. We’ve got ping pong, pool, foosball, video games, music, snacks and weekly discounted massages to help us refill our tanks. A bunch of FatWallet employees eat lunch quickly so they can head back to their desks for a little Call of Duty. Some might call it silly, but just like kids in school, we think better after a little recess.

    What activities fill your tank?

    • Eating Healthy

    • Exercise
    • Prayer or Meditation
    • Family Time
    • Cooking
    • Team Sports
    • Book Clubs
    • Movies
    • Video Games
    • Music
    • Art
  2. Organization:

    My job in social media, just like my job as a mom of 3 kids, is inherently a position of spinning plates. It’s impossible to not be behind on something or another, but I feel better when my desk is tidy and my calendar is organized.

    Clutter is draining, whether it’s the digital kind or physical. It saps our creativity, and increases feeling of overwhelm. I’m not a neat-freak minimalist by any means, (although I really wish I was!!!) but I always feel more in control when the house is picked up. I also feel less stress when I can get to work a few minutes early, grab a cup of coffee and look at what my priorities are that I listed out the day before.

    I keep two calendars; one for work and one for home. My personal preferences are Cozi and Google because they both allow me to create calendars for each person in the family and each person on my team. I can see everything at once or filter everything out except the one calendar I want to focus on.

    Carly Knobloch from Digitwirl has a video on both of these calendars and she explains them way better than I ever could: Google Calendar and Cozi Website/App.

  3. Prioritization:

    Everyone and every thing wants to be your number one priority and it’s way too easy to end up spending each day putting out fires. I learned a big lesson way back when I was a virtual assistant, that someone else’ procrastination didn’t need to become my emergency. My husband taught me about the “Good – Fast – Cheap” principle. I could provide good, fast and cheap service, but only two at a time.

    We are the only ones in control of our schedules and we need to protect them and fiercely defend them so we can focus on our priorities. Ann and I have a reminder set at 4:40 in our FatWallet calendars to stop and do a brain dump, making a list of what priorities we need to get done the next day.

    This doesn’t have to be an activity of drudgery! We were brainstorming what to label it in the calendar and Ann blurted out “Daily Dump” before she realized what she said. We laughed so hard we couldn’t breathe, so we decided to really call it that. It makes us giggle every day when our reminder’s pop up!

    I do the same thing on my phone before I go to bed each night, making a list of what priorities I need to focus on the following day. I also use that time to make a list of what I’m grateful for that happened that day. That moment of daily gratitude is also really good at helping me unwind from the overwhelm.

    Speaking of priorities, are you taking them into account when you’re planning your day? Our calendars can change our lives and help us become the people we want to be if we take control of them instead of letting them control us. I blogged about that in more depth here as well: Who do you want to become?

The truth is a tough pill to swallow at times, but overwhelm is our own fault and no one can or will fix it for us. Everyone has the same number of hours in the day and it’s the choices we make daily that define who we are and who we will become.

Choose wisely.

:) Heather

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