Seven steps for identifying your personal goals.

Very often in the world of business we find ourselves in high-pressure situations as a result of deadlines, co-workers or general stress. Today we look at some ways that you can remain focussed in such times.

Nowadays many of us have high-pressure jobs that take a long-term toll on our mental and physical health. Maintaining calm and focus in the face of unending demand can be very difficult, as can keeping your motivation for your job and the tasks at hand.

However with a little preparation and working out where you want to draw the line between work and personal, keeping up the good work in a difficult environment can become much easier.

Plan your tasks

When you finish at the end of the day make it a habit to take five minutes to plan out your tasks for the next day. This can take many forms from blocking out hour-long chunks for large tasks (such as drafting text for projects), to creating a simple “to do” list of smaller tasks that you can cross off quickly and easily. When you get to work the next morning, load up your emails and amend the list with any urgent tasks that have come in overnight.

You now know exactly what to do as soon as you sit at your desk. Some people prefer to “warm up” for the day by processing through a series of short tasks, others prefer to get the most difficult one done first while they’re still fresh. Only you know what works best for you, but a bit of planning the day before will get you on the right foot!

Apps to switch off distractions

One of the easiest ways to maintain focus is to switch off from all other distractions, especially those that are online. It’s all too easy to “take a few minutes” to glance at Facebook or check your Twitter feed, and suddenly find that you’ve lost half an hour! Luckily there are browser apps that you can install on Chrome or Firefox and your iPhone which stop you accessing websites that are a distraction.

Different apps will give you different features depending on what you want to block. Some block internet access entirely for periods of time that you can specify, ensuring that you can’t access anything except your documents and spreadsheets. Others will block social media so you can’t “just check” for updates. A few others will allow you to pick specific sites to block, so if you easily get sucked into a particular online game or find news websites too distracting you can set the app to cut off your access for a few hours.

By removing the places that absorb your attention, you can keep your focus for longer and increase your productivity.

Take your lunch break

When under pressure it can be too easy to sacrifice your lunch break to get a bit more work done. Eating your food at your desk, or not eating if you didn’t bring any with you, seems like a good idea the first time you do it. It allows you to catch up with whatever you missed that morning (because you were checking Facebook) and you can tell yourself that it’s a one-off. But it’s a very easy pattern to slip in to and it’s not healthy in the long run.

Make sure you leave your office for your lunch break. A walk outside in fresh air will improve your afternoon productivity more than catching up will. Your eyes need a rest from the computer screen and your wrists need a break from the keyboard. If you’re starting to feel a bit stressed then getting a mental and physical break will give you the strength to get through the rest of the afternoon without that feeling getting worse. Even if you take your own lunch to work with you, just walking to the nearest park and eating it on a bench with a book will do you the world of good. You can also give yourself a few minutes to practice some breathing exercises and regain a feeling of calm, keeping your motivation going for the rest of the day.

If your office has a basement gym then you can also ask HR if it’s possible for yoga or Pilates classes to be held during lunch hours that staff can attend. Many of your colleagues will be feeling the same pressure as you, and such classes can do wonders for reducing staff turnover and increasing productivity.

Work stress affects us all and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. But a little time invested in good habits will pay off dividends that will help you stay happy and healthy in the face of stress.

About Jack

Jack Purdie @ImJackPurdie lives in Southampton and is on a slow but steady mission to try and find a way to share some of the random, and sometimes interesting, thoughts that go through his head.

Working heavily in the event industry, but also behind a health and nutrition startup, Jack is known to always be up to something, with many projects bubbling away.

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