Bless This Stress

As every small business owner knows, a certain amount of stress comes with the territory. But that doesn't mean stress has to get the best of you.

In fact, stress will get the best of you if you don't deal with it. Studies link stress to ailments ranging from heart disease to immune-system disorders. And new research from the University of Texas suggests your job may even be killing you: People who lack control over their work have a 43 percent greater risk of dying prematurely than other employees.

Here are some excellent and proven stress-busting strategies to work into your day.

Stay focused: Whatever the task, try to do it conscientiously. Then tackle the next thing. Multitasking might work for computers, but humans aren't computers. Doing too many things at once leads to careless mistakes, poor work and unreliable performance.

Work for your own goals: Our days are filled with stressful competitions most of which are self-imposed unnecessary. If you want to compete, vie to be the one who stays calm and avoids getting caught up in the daily grind that hinders health and peace of mind.

Get rid of the clutter: Useless clutter weighs you down, gets in the way and obscures what's important. Be realistic. If you're not going to use it, lose it. Every day, find one thing you don't need and toss it. Or give it away. Over time, the clutter will begin to vanish. Space and order will magically appear in your home ... and your life.

Take yourself off the clock: A rbitrary and unrealistic time constraints we impose on ourselves only make us more pressured, anxious, stressed out. Avoid the trap of assigning time frames to everything you do. Instead, try completing a project in a careful, professional manner.

Work smarter: Know the difference between busy and hectic. It's not the number of things you do, but how well you do each one. If you're chronically overscheduled, you may have to practice choosing one task at a time, and giving it your complete attention.

Here are some additional tips for mitigating stress:
  • Pick your battles. Not only will this reduce stress growing out of the conflicts, but it is probably a wiser move politically and fiscally.
  • Invest a little trust and responsibility in your teammates. Delegate duties. Remember: An OK idea executed beautifully beats a brilliant idea executed without sufficient resources every time.
  • Try to set one day a week – preferably the same day each week – and quit work at an assigned time. Hold to your schedule. If possible, after six months make it two days a week.
  • Don't let others tell you how to work. We all have our own methodologies and work habits; employ what is most productive and comfortable for you.
  • Take a full two weeks of vacation a year. Don't take your vacation a day here, two days there. Those types of mini-vacations don't give you enough time to get out of work mode and step away from work-level stresses.
  • Don't be available on vacation. Don't leave your hotel or cell number with your staff. Don't check email. Don't call in to the office.
  • Don't pick up the phone every time it rings. Don't answer email immediately. Interruptions are the number one cause of lost productivity because it takes a human worker, once interrupted from concentrating on a task, an average of twenty minutes just to get back to the previous level of concentration.