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5 Steps to Conquer the Cycle of Overwork and Have Your Most Productive Year Yet

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It’s long past 6pm and you’re still sitting at your desk, pouring over reports and notes from an earlier meeting. Your caffeine pick-me-up has long faded and you are finally considering leaving for the day, only to look up and find that at least half of your co-workers are still firmly glued to their own chairs.

You resign yourself to another couple of hours of work before you head home, crash on the couch and get up and do it all over the next day. Sound familiar? This cycle of overwork is far too common, and often it creeps up on us before we realize it. You may work for a company that values a great deal of face time, to the point of creating an atmosphere where hours on the job are more highly valued than actual productivity.

You may be a part of a team that thrives on the adrenaline rush of trying to finish a project at the last minute to meet an important deadline. Or you may have gone with the flow early on in your job, and now find yourself surrounded by colleagues who routinely send emails at all hours and expect you to make yourself available around the clock as well.

These situations result when there is no clear alignment between your values and the expectations of your boss or colleagues, leading to undue stress and diminished productivity. Over time, the constant stress will negatively impact your health, relationships and reduce your overall quality of life.

The good news is there are ways that can help you regain control of your time, tipping the balance in favor of a more manageable work environment which sets you up for maximum productivity.

Here are the five simple steps:

1. Set boundaries

You don’t have to make a broad announcement to your whole office that you will no longer answer emails in the evenings for them to get the picture that work is no longer going to follow you home. Write down how you envision your workday to get a clear idea of what is most important to you and then start turning your vision into a reality.

Be polite but firm when someone asks (or demands) more of your time or energy than you are willing to give (say by asking you to put together a few slides for tomorrow’s presentation at 11pm). It may take time, and there may be some pushback, but eventually the people around you will realize that your time is valuable and that you will expect them to treat it as such (or compensate you adequately for what it’s worth).

“I encourage people to remember that “No” is a complete sentence.” – Gavin de Becker

2. Compare yourself less

Every workplace has someone who boasts about how late they stayed, or how many hours they’re working (how many of those are spent watching YouTube is another story). Competing with someone who keeps this kind of schedule is a recipe for unhappiness.

Have confidence that if you do your job well you won’t need to prove your worth by clocking in extra hours, especially at the expense of spending quality time with family and friends. Work on developing meaningful pursuits outside of work so you always have something to look forward to, allowing you to more easily ignore any side eye from colleagues when you promptly leave at the end of the workday.

3. Take your breaks

Research shows that short and frequent breaks help with overall stamina and even to reduce minor aches and pains associated with long periods of sitting. Moreover, breaks can help spark creative thinking, allowing you to find unique ways to problem solve and perform your job better.

Trying different techniques can help provide some structure if you are not used to taking regular breaks, while helping to increase your focus on a given task. Even something small like not eating your lunch at your desk once a week can help ease stress when you’re feeling overworked.

4. Socialize with your colleagues

It might be tempting if you have an ever growing pile of work to hunker down with your headphones on and not acknowledge any of your coworkers but this type of mindset is counterproductive in the long run. Not only do employees with weak social ties have much higher mortality rates, they also report feeling less happy in the workplace.

Fast-paced and challenging work environments call for greater outlets to release stress. A weekly social lunch with colleagues or writing a simple thank you note can help make your job more enjoyable and feel less hectic even if your overall hours do not change.

“I absolutely love to relax and have fun. I like socializing; I like chatting. I like dancing, mixing with friends.” – Gwendoline Christie

5. Invest in professional development

According to a study of working-age Millennials, the number one source of frustration in the workplace is a lack of company support for training and professional development. If you’re already feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work on your plate, taking a seminar or an evening class may seem impossible, but it can provide an excellent outlet away from the daily grind of your 9 to 5.

Furthermore, gaining additional skills may boost your overall productivity and may make you a more attractive candidate come promotion time or if you decide to take your talents elsewhere.

The average person will spend close to 10 years of their life at work, which may feel like much more if you’re overworked and overstressed, but even small changes can have a huge impact on your wellbeing at the end of the day.

How do you stay sane when work seems like it will never end? Please leave your thoughts below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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How Your Psychological Blind Spots Keep You Stuck in Life

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Sometimes, life doesn’t seem to make any sense. Albert Einstein once said “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Here’s the funny thing. We will say that line about someone else, have a good chuckle, and then DO THE SAME THING OURSELVES! This time, it’s not that funny, is it? I know. I’ve done it myself. (more…)

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3 Ways to Take Better Care of Yourself and Live an Optimized Life

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The secret to happiness lies in the way you live your life. People think of happiness as some destination they’ll reach when they’ve accomplished the hundred things on their life to-do list. Happiness is often associated with money, material possessions, or even great relationships. (more…)

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These 7 Daily Resolutions Can Change Your Life

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We all strive to be better every day. Most of us want a new day to bring something new, and we plan for it as well. Of course, the execution is debatable as procrastination is real and it becomes an overwhelming feeling at times. Also, not to forget the customary practice of making resolutions on new year’s eve!  All of us are fascinated by the thought of preparing long lists of resolves to mark the beginning of a new year. Not sure how many people are able to translate these resolutions into functional realities. (more…)

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4 Reasons Why Content Is Pivotal For Mental Health Healing

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One of the most important things for an entrepreneur’s mental health is expressing their feelings, thoughts, and emotions. This is where content creation and writing becomes pivotal. Whether you read something that resonates with you or you write a compelling blog post, the act of expressing yourself through content can help to put a smile on your face and make you feel better about things.

Most entrepreneurs don’t spend as much time taking care of their mental health as they should. Over the course of your career, you will experience a lot of ups and downs; these emotions have the potential to take a toll on your mind and body if you don’t learn to manage them properly.

Here are four reasons why expression through content is pivotal for healing, slowing yourself down, and giving yourself grace when the going gets tough.

1. Content can be a form of self-expression

When you are an entrepreneur, you frequently face feelings of insecurity, doubt, fear, apathy, and exhaustion, just to name a few. Some days it feels like no one is on your business’s side and everyone else has it all figured out. On those days some of us try to look at our website’s analytics to cheer up. 

But an even more freeing task is creating content. You create content to improve your business and reach more people’s lives. But, there is something special that happens when you write with the intention of expressing your thoughts and feelings — you open a door to yourself. 

Content is inherently personal, which means content creators open themselves up when they share their thoughts on a platform. Everything from the title of the post, the keywords they choose to include, and even the content itself helps you to understand who the author of that post truly is. And as an entrepreneur, this can be an important experience because it allows others to empathize with you.

2. Self-reflection will lift you up

As you think through what to write about and how to express yourself, the process of self reflection is a valuable step you need to go through. You’re able to reflect on the blessings you have, assess what you learned from the negative experiences, and create a plan on how to maintain the positive experiences you’ve had. 

There are a few ways that self reflection can help you with mental health healing. The act of reflecting on your experiences helps to create clarity in feelings, thoughts and emotions which will eventually lead into acceptance for what has happened or is happening currently without feeling overwhelmed by it all. This process also leads people towards finding new things they enjoy doing. Self reflection is therapeutic and can be implemented anytime you feel the need to overcome overwhelm.

“Writing in a journal each day allows you to direct your focus to what you accomplished, what you’re grateful for and what you’re committed to doing better tomorrow. Thus, you more deeply enjoy your journey each day.” – Hal Elrod

3. A sense of belonging and camaraderie

It is important to have a support network of people who will listen and understand what you are going through. When you post a blog or upload a video on YouTube, there are others who feel the same way and experience a sense of connection with you.

When you put time, attention and thoughtfulness into your writing, it is amazing when someone reads what you’ve written and comments on it thanking you or expressing how they resonate with what you’re going through. It’s hard to put into words how powerful it feels when someone who has gone through the same experience and reads your words then reaches out.  There is power in expression but miracles happen when people bond over a similar experience.

4. Library of content to share with more people

It can be very difficult to know what content to share with people as the symptoms of mental health disorders (anxiety, depression, etc.) vary from person to person. But as you accumulate more and more content, this will increase the number of articles or videos available for readers to choose from depending on their specific purpose. It also builds your personal library of resources you’re able to share to different people you encounter or engage directly with.

As chaotic and distracting social media can be, it can also be a beacon of hope with the right content. Many people share viral posts, or content that interest them. Since your content is valuable and personal, the more you share it, the more likely it is to be shared with the right audience.

You never know who is watching (reading)

Your content is speaking to someone and even though they may not be actively engaged, their experiences with your work are impacting them. Think about the last time you watched TV: did everyone in the room have something entertaining to say? 

You never know who’s watching because there’s always somebody reading your posts or viewing your videos-even if they just skim through it briefly. This is why creating content worth consuming is critical, not only to get you out of your funk, but also to serve your audience.  Be authentic and stay true to yourself; make every post count as an opportunity for connection with your best self and for potential readers to bond with you.

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