You would think having more work would make you more stressed. For me it worked the other way around.
Okay, folks, confession time! I am a huge stress magnet. Huuuuge!
I get stressed over everything and anything. From being five minutes late for a meeting, (though everyone else shows up ten minutes late) to not bringing enough clean clothes to daycare so my daughter needs to borrow some from the nursery’s collections (as if that hasn’t happened to anybody else). I lose sleep when an interview is canceled. You get the gist.
From the end of last year to the beginning of the current one, my workload has increased tremendously since I’ve taken on one big job, and at the same time, several smaller projects that I had been trying to sell for months and that finally became a reality. In December, I really wondered if I would make it sane until the holidays, but then the much needed Christmas break helped me get back on my feet.
And in January, the miracle happened. I realised I’m less stressed than I was before.
How on Earth did that happen?
- My finances improved
The self-evident explanation: money: Thanks to the new projects, the financial burden was not present anymore. It also gave me confidence to see that I’m capable of growing my business.
- I was obligated to improve my productivity
When my calendar was not this full, I managed to get everything done even though I was frequently interrupted by notifications and I did not really update my task list or use any other of my productivity hacks. With the changed situation, that did not work anymore.
I had to become very mindful about my use of time, so I integrated new rules. No constant e-mail checking. No social media for fun during the working hours. Every morning, in the beginning or the afternoon and last day in the evening, I check and update my to do list. I also use a time blocking calendar, where I allocate a certain time for every project I need to finish. It works wonders.
- Batching work improved my productivity
Since I had more work, I was able to batch it in a meaningful way. It meant there were days when I had an interview every hour. There was a day when I wrote three articles. There were days I managed my inbox, calendar and accounting like a crazy person. It also required a good amount of self-discipline and understanding. I couldn’t reply to every email right away, I couldn’t write all the articles right after the interview etc.
- I added hours – and free-time, too
I still feel bad and guilty about this decision, but it was the right one: I prolonged my days. I rather work longer days during the week than work every evening and all the weekends. I also do not want to give up our “Girls’ Fridays” – the special day I spend with my daughter every week.
On the other hand, I understood quickly, I can’t work every evening and all the weekends, so I set a clear rule to myself: a maximum of one weekend per month and 2-3 nights every week can include anything work-related.
So all in all, my stress levels did not rise at the same speed with my workload (probably also, because I don’t have time for stress anymore).
Which are your best stress management tactics?