Lately I’ve been exploring the possibility of being completely stress-free while being productive. I like my job, I like to blog, but there’s sometimes a sense of ‘forcing it’.
It’s definitely a topic worth looking more into.
edit: ironically enough, I’ve been procrastinating with this article for a long time (though I must admit that I’ve also been busy doing other things). I’m going to follow my own advice and just put it out there instead of trying to make it perfect.
The why of stress
If we want to work stress-free, we’ll have to figure out first what causes the stress in us. This requires some amount of self-awareness to actually find the underlying causes for your stress/procrastination.
Usually there’s always some kind of fear underlying: deadline, fear of judgement, it can be anything that triggers a reaction in our body.
It’s often not what we do – unless it’s painfully repetitive – but how we think and feel about it.
I can’t say exactly how you can get rid of your own stress, but I can give you some tips to help you out.
1. Allow yourself to suck
Maybe it’s because in our minds we glorify ourselves as a “brand” that we can’t let others see us as bad at something.
People care mostly about themselves, they don’t focus on you or others anywhere as much as you believe.
Not allowing yourself to be bad at something is the ultimate self-defeating strategy.
The best way to deal with sucking at something is to be honest about it and just do it with integrity. I will look a lot better than being ashamed of your shittiness.
2. Consciously relax yourself
Our thoughts and feelings affect the way that our body behaves, but this works other way too as Amy Cuddy points out in her magnificent ted talk.
You may have some unconscious muscle tension. By relaxing every part of your body completely – except your anus – you can bring more peaceful state of mind and feeling in your body.
3. Focus only on the next step
If you have to get something bigger than washing your teeth done, you’ll probably vision the whole entirety and start thinking all the steps you’ll have to take.
Stop doing that. Make a vision of the first step, do that and only after that
The smaller you piece it in, the easier it gets. If even washing your teeth feels hard, just go to the bathroom. No big deal. Then pick up the tooth brush, no big deal once again.
And keep going.
Stop making it complicated.
4. “I must” -> “I want”
This is a good tip from The Now Habit and I found it working quite well. There’s often resistance related to working because you think that it’s something “you must” do.
Even if it is something that you have to do, you can change the self-talk related to it. Just try it, change the “I must” to “I want”.
I found that my feelings started to reflect on what I thought about it, not what it actually was.
5. You get what you focus on
If you think how bad it feels to work, it will most certainly keep feeling like crap.
Instead of focusing how shitty everything is, shift your focus to something else.
This is obviously easier to be said than done, so I refer to my article how I got rid of negative thoughts, which sheds some insight on shitty feelings and how to deal with them.
6. Finished is always better than perfect
because perfect will never be finished.
You’ll have to start prioritizing this simple thing over doing “the best possible job”: aim to finish rather than making it perfect from the get go.
I’ve been keeping a journal for a while now and it’s been a transforming experience when it comes to writing. The reason for this is that I don’t have any kind of filters on when I’m writing.
I’m not concerned about whether anyone will like it, because I’m writing for myself. I become creative and am truly able to enjoy the process, just because I don’t have any imagined external pressures.
This is what I focus on nowadays when I write practically anything. It’s always best to get something done and then polish it later.
7. Recall why you want to be productive
Often stress comes from having mental resistance towards what you (are supposed) to do.
Start thinking, why are you doing what you do after all?
Is it because you want to have more freedom? More choices?
Imagination is one of the most powerful tools when it comes to being productive as well as being stress-free about it.
As long as your goals and reasons why you want to be productive are bigger than your fears, you’ll be productive.
The problem is that we can only have one thought in our head at a time and when that thought isn’t linked to our goals, we become easily distracted.
8. Stress-free life equals to stress-free productivity
To be truly stress-free while working, you’ll have to work on other areas as well.
Everything that we do generates a ripple-effect that affects every single part of our lives. I wrote about this more in-detail at how non-diversified days destroy your emotional health.
If there’s something that is stressing you out, you should focus on that before even trying to be productive.
9. Look at it from your own perspective
I’ve realized that especially in blogging it’s so easy to start thinking about “are other people going to like this?”
This is wrong way to look at things. You can’t know whether people are going to like what you’ve created.
instead, you should think whether you find what you’ve made valuable.
Chances are that someone else will too. Don’t try to predict what others will like – do what you yourself would like.
10. The first thing is always to begin
Beginning is always harder than to keep doing because it requires transforming our thoughts into action.
Sometimes you have to force it.
Mind is the ultimate tool for procrastination: if there’s a rationalization why you should put off your work, your mind will come up with it.
Action is the most powerful productivity vehicle that you can hop on – you gain momentum, which enables you to do more and action itself will spur more motivation which will transform to more action.
It just doesn’t feel like it when you are staying still.
- How I Learned to Stop Procrastinating, & Love Letting Go
- You Can Easily Learn 100 TED Talks Lessons In 5 Minutes Which Most People Need 70 Hours For
- Get Over Yourself: How Your Ego Sabotages Your Creativity
- 60 Productivity Tips
- Zen Productivity
- When You’re Feeling Self-Doubt & a Lack of Motivation
- Lessons in Productivity from Ralph Waldo Emerson
- The List to Beat All Lists: Top 20 Productivity Lists to Rock Your Tasks
- The Unsurpassable Productivity List: A Handy Guide to Getting Important Things Done
- Self-Discipline in 5 Sentences
- 12 Indispensable Mindful Living Tools
- David Allens TED Talk
- 6 Easy To Install Productivity Habits
- 10 Bad Productivity Habits That Are Holding You Back
- 6 Ways to Get More Done
Lots of links from zenhabits, but what can I say? Leo is great.