From time to time, many of us feel stressed at work even if we love our jobs.
Stress in small doses can actually be a positive thing – For example, it can help us perform well during a client meeting or a presentation to our boss. Too much stress, however, isn’t good for us. Chronic stress can put us at risk for health problems, such as heart disease, obesity, depression, and anxiety.
Chronic stress can also make a health condition worse.
A major cause of job stress is feeling like there aren’t enough hours in the day to finish everything we’ve been asked to do. These tips from MHN, Health Net, Inc.’s behavioral health subsidiary, can help employees maximize their productivity and minimize job stress.
- Make a to-do list. As your last task for the work day, make a to-do list for the next day. Arrange your tasks in order of priority, and decide how many minutes you want to allocate for each task. (Aim to spend no more than 50 to 90 minutes on a task – Evidence suggests that productivity dips beyond that. ) When you’re ready to tackle your to-do list the next day, start with the most difficult task. Set a timer to make sure that the time you’ve allocated for that task doesn’t eat into time set aside for other activities.
- Take a break between tasks. Doing so can boost productivity and help you avoid burnout. After working for no more than 50 to 90 minutes, try taking a 15- to 20-minute break between tasks and a longer break at lunch to clear your mind. During your breaks, go for a walk, meditate or chat with a co-worker.
- Limit your time on social media. While we may intend to quickly check social media between projects, it’s easy to lose track of time. Try to limit checking social media to your lunch break or after work.
- Minimize interruptions. After an interruption, it takes time to regain focus on the task at hand. That’s a good reason to switch off notifications on your electronic devices and limit checking email to set times during the day. When you really have to focus, make use of your electronic “do not disturb” settings, close your door or put a sign on the back of your chair.
- Exercise. You may know about the physical benefits of exercise, but did you know exercise can help you improve your work performance? Researchers have discovered that exercise provides a range of cognitive benefits from improved focus to enhanced creativity and mood.
- Focus on one thing at a time. We may think that we’re being more productive by juggling several tasks at once, but research has shown that the opposite may be true. Multitasking can take a toll on productivity.
- Get the right things done. Not all tasks are urgent and important. Sometimes, we may think that something urgent – such as a co-worker’s phone call or instant message – is also important, but it may not be. Knowing how to tell the difference can help you prioritize.
MHN can help
It can be hard for employees to find enough hours in the day to tackle work and life’s daily challenges. As part of its Employee Assistance Program, MHN offers work and life services to save members time, money and hassle.
MHN’s specialists offer phone consultations and referrals for financial matters, legal matters, identity theft recovery, and for issues related to daily living, childcare or eldercare. MHN’s member website includes a full library of educational articles, along with searchable directories for childcare and eldercare, legal tools and forms, financial calculators, and interactive e-learning programs.
To learn more, please visit www.mhn.com, call 1-800-327-7526 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article is for informational and self-help purposes only. It should not be treated as a substitute for financial, medical, psychiatric, psychological, or behavioral health care advice, or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified professional.
Managed Health Network, Inc. (MHN) is a subsidiary of Health Net, Inc. The MHN family of companies includes Managed Health Network, MHN Services and MHN Government Services. Health Net and Managed Health Network are registered service marks of Health Net, Inc. or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
U.S. National Library of Medicine, “Stress and Your Health,” 23 November 2014, https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003211.htm.
Neil Patel, “When, how, and how often to take a break,” Inc., 11 December 2014, http://www.inc.com/neil-patel/when-how-and-how-often-to-take-a-break.html.
Ron Friedman, “Regular exercise is part of your job,” 3 October 2014, Harvard Business Review, https://hbr.org/2014/10/regular-exercise-is-part-of-your-job/.
Lisa Evans, “Forget multitasking. Real productivity comes from singletasking,” 1 July 2015, Entrepreneur, http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/247833.