Being Productive Without Being Stressed Out

Michele Warg
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Keeping focused and staying productive while you're working isn't always easy. Work stress eats away at your ability to concentrate, erodes your productivity at work, and can make the standard forty-hour workweek seem much, much longer than it has to be. Learning how to manage your work stress, and even how to turn the demands of the office to your advantage, can set you apart from the other workers and help you get more done than you ever thought possible.

One way to deal with work stress is to not work. Of course, your employer is probably not that understanding—despite the cost to employers of employee burnout—so the next best thing is to schedule frequent breaks between, or even in the middle of, tasks. Human beings aren't machines, and productivity at work comes in waves rather than in straight lines. When you've spent the morning working on a project and suddenly lose steam, trying to force your way through that rough patch is almost the worst thing you can do. The fatigue that comes with work stress ensures that you'll see diminishing returns as you try to fight through an unrewarding assignment. Taking a short break whenever you feel the need can help you come back to your desk fresh and ready to get more done in an hour than you would otherwise have managed before lunch.

Setting reasonable goals is another way to manage work stress. Administrative workers often have short-term tasks that fit into the context of a larger project. You can extend that philosophy by further breaking down your tasks until the entire job becomes a series of easily managed bite-sized chunks. The sense of satisfaction you feel from meeting a goal—even a very minor goal—can be the motivation you need to keep going.

Diversity of tasks also helps allay work stress. While switching from one job to another is difficult for plumbers and electricians, as an admin worker, you probably enjoy more flexibility in the exact order you undertake your work. By mixing it up a bit and working on whichever task you feel most attracted to at a particular moment, you can stave off the exhaustion that comes with monotonous labor.

Work stress exacts a terrible cost for office workers. The lack of physical exertion that comes with a desk job conceals the real drain that slogging through repetitive, unrewarding jobs can cause. By mixing up your work routine, taking a break when you feel you need one, and setting up your day as a series of short-term challenges that you know you can overcome, you'll find that the greater part of your work stress will at least become manageable.



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