Stop the Overwhelm

by Vinay Saranga, M.D.

Doing more with less has been the obstacle for many organizations, entrepreneurs and employees. Unfortunately, it’s taken a toll on productivity and has even led to stress, overwhelm and burnout in the workplace. Following are some tips to being more productive while eliminating the downsides.

Schedule email time. E-mail inboxes are a big anxiety trigger. One way to eliminate unnecessary stress is to set aside a time to check the inbox and otherwise stay focused on the tasks at hand. A lot of people check email three times daily with great success. It’s also a good idea to clean out the mailbox from time to time. Just seeing all those old emails is overwhelming, not to mention slowing down the system.

Set a productivity timer. Approach a large task by setting small steps to avoid overwhelm. If possible, work in 30-minute to one-hour segments. Set a timer to change pace and take a break to refresh.

Stop multitasking: Multitasking is one of the greatest lies of all time. Focusing on one task until completion will result in greater progress on the task and increased quality of the work.

Clean the workspace: Organization and productivity go hand-in-hand. Studies show a messy environment heightens stress levels in the workplace.

Learn to say ‘no.’ We must learn to say no to others and yes to ourselves. Helping others is great, but not when it causes us stress trying to complete our own tasks. If delegating is an option, use it.

Eliminate distractions. Save browsing the web and checking social media for break time or even as part of decompression after completing a task. Finding a quiet place to work uninterrupted may be a solution if one’s workspace is surrounded by noise or other distractions.

Clean out the mental inbox: One of the biggest productivity killers in the workplace is letting one’s personal life bleed over into one’s professional life. Of course, some things can’t wait, but generally speaking, it’s best to take care of everything that requires one’s personal attention before heading off to work, and keep the two as separate as possible.

Vinay Saranga is M.D., a psychiatrist and founder of Saranga Comprehensive Psychiatry.

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