Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Managing Stress - Part Two

Time management is an essential factor in managing stress. Often the feeling that you don't have enough time in the day increases your stress levels before you've even started.

If you manage your energy, attention and commitments you create an effective daily management of tasks leaving you feeling more focused.

Mark Walsh shared his top tips for successful time management on BusinessZone.co.uk.

Here is my adaptation:
1. The first step is to record and analyse how you spend your time for a week. This includes times when your energy levels slump and times when you are most productive or creative.

2. Next make a list. One list of everything you want to do from 'call the hairdressers' to 'write blog on stress management'. With everything you want to do on the list you are less likely to be distracted by other matters not listed. If there are time-sensitive items on it, set an impeccably reliable reminder system - high or low tech (a Blackberry alarm or a laundry basket in front of your door to remind you to do the washing for example). If you are on the move Mark suggests a colour system based on locations such as 'Computer', 'Computer no net', 'With secretary', 'In town', 'On phone – private', 'On phone – public', etc.

3. I always include a wish list, important things you need to do or read for long-term development or inspiration but that are not urgent. Preferably with a expected time scale so when you know you have a period of time before a meeting or on the train you can fit them in.

4. Don't make the list a must-do-today list as other stuff will always come up pushing things off the list and onto the next day which can leave you disheartened. It's better to have one overall evolving time management. list including sacred time for important

5. Empty your email inbox using the framework
- 'do it (less than 2 min),
- drop it (not important),
- delegate it or defer it (with time frame and reminder)' method.
Differentiate between reference/storage and 'to do' areas and don't use one for the other.

6. Unfortunately multi-tasking is often only dividing attention and switching quickly between tasks. This is an ineffective way of working causing you to make mistakes and need to repeat things. Often switching your mind from one job to another will make you less efficient. Where possible do one thing at a time and chunk together similar tasks in a given period

7. Do the hardest most important thing first to get your day going and give you a sense of satisfaction that you can do anything with your day.

8. And finally, relax. Sounds simple but a five minute walk around the block, just a few seconds breathing and clearing your head or just listening to an upbeat song will really help.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Managing Stress - Part One

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development time off through stress has increased, with the recession blamed for elevated stress levels.

Factors such as extra workload, worries about company reorganisations and domestic problems have led to higher levels of anxiety and depression, employers reported.
The research also found that more employees were struggling into work even when they were ill, because of concerns about losing their jobs.

But how do you manage stress & strain if you cannot take a day off? As a business owners or entrepreneurs it can be a lonely existence where no one is available to share the strain of your business struggle. As Julie Meyer recently said, in an interview with StartupTV, running your own business is not glamorous but requires you to be 'obsessed and addicted' to succeed in order to continue when times are hard. Such obsession can be overwhelming for anyone.

Business solutions, like The Virtual Office, can relieve some of the immediate pressure by providing administrative support and managing your telephone calls allowing you to get your head down and finish projects or to take a well deserved day (or two) holiday.

Although some find it hard to justify such as service, for less than the cost of a sandwich you can get some R&R making you more productive and more focused when you return.

There are also many online tools and communities available to help entrepreneurs feel less isolated such as Enterprise Nation and UK Business Forums. However you cannot underestimate the importance of networking groups such as Sister Snog and Business Junction for sharing experiences and building relationships with like-minded individuals. Discussing your business situation or just having a chat with people who are in the same boat with the similar worries can be reassuring.

To quote Julie Meyer, there are lots of 'other people climbing the mountain'.

Let's help each other to the summit.