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3 Steps to Success Under Stress

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Working under stress is the “new normal,” says stress-resilience expert Sharon Melnick, PhD. For managers, pressure may come from many directions, including their bosses, colleagues, clients and employees. In her book, Suc­cess Under Stress: Powerful Tools for Staying Calm, Confident and Productive When the Pressure’s On, Melnick says we can become more resilient by adopting more productive strategies for reduc­ing stress by taking the following three actions: 

Build in time to decompress 

Melnick says we have an “on button” and an “off button.” The problem is we often leave the “on button” on all the time. Like a car with the motor run­ning full tilt 24/7, our engine will burn out if we just keep going. Studies have shown that taking regular breaks throughout the day enhances productivity. If you are working many hours without breaks and eating lunch at your desk, it’s likely affecting your productivity, especially in the afternoon. Even if you can spare only five minutes, go outside and walk around the block or find a park bench where you can do some slow, deep breathing.

Keep your eye on the horizon

When we get stressed, we often get caught up in details or situations that we can’t control. Stay focused on the big picture, and take action where you can. Rather than expending all your energy on one or two employ­ees who are not performing, focus on the other eight who are. Hold those nonperforming employees accountable. If they fail to deliver, retrain or reassign them. If necessary, remove them from the organization rather than allow them to damage your team’s morale and results.

Focus on higher-value activities 

Work from a prioritized to-do list. Rather than just creating one massive list, divide your tasks into higher-value activities linked directly to your key deliverables and lower-value activities that you can delegate. Focus on the higher-value activities that only you can do, and train your staff to take on the other tasks.

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