Stress Less and Do More: A Therapist’s Productivity Tools

Your list is getting longer. To-dos keep getting pushed back. You’re not feeling great. Is there a way to stress less and increase productivity?

Because I work to help those with anxiety, I understand how much of a role stress and overwhelm play when it comes to productivity. It helps to have a process to rely on to help increase your productivity.

Try this four step process to recharge your productivity and get some stress relief (not just when the list is done – even before you get started)!

1. Clarify and De-Clutter: Let go of things that don’t matter

How often do you waste energy worrying over doing something that doesn’t really matter to you? In other words, who and what has permission to cause you stress? Take a look at the past few days and notice what has occupied your mind.

There is a powerful value to writing things down. Write out your entire to-do list, for any and all areas of your life.

Take a look at how much you’re expecting yourself to do and when you’re actually expecting yourself to do it. Is this realistic? Is it even what you truly want?

You won’t accomplish as much if you’re dreading what you do. Sure, some things will be difficult, but the point is to enjoy life, then make sure that enjoyment is a priority in your life – even if it means trying to enjoy more of the work you do.

Here are a few more guidelines for what to write that will help you keep things clear and simple.
  • Make a list of things that you’re doing for others or because you feel that you “have to.” Is it out of guilt, unclear expectations, or other reasons that are not bringing you joy?
  • Create a new list of the things that you are doing that have meaning to you. They may be small or large.
  • Next, create a list of things that you’d like to be doing.

Clarity is the bridge to productivity. Click To Tweet

2. Get Ready for Action: Connect to the value of the outcome(s)

Now that you’ve written down everything on your to-do list, the next step is to connect each task to that meaning, intent or outcome. In other words, what is the point of doing this particular task? For example, the point of organizing the garage is so that you can find what you need, be clutter-free, and feel proud of what you drop into the donation bin.

Write down the “point” of each task. What is the value of this to you? When you imagine this being completed, does this give you a sense of satisfaction or joy?

Now, make a new to-do list that serves the purpose of removing unnecessary things, prioritizing meaningful things, and adding better things.

Seeing the value of the outcome of even small tasks will help you keep your priorities straight, and appreciate small victories that will now be easier to measure. 

This will become natural as you learn to value what you want rather than thinking about what “should” be done. “Should” often isn’t connected to something that means anything to you personally; it is an external pressure that people often either avoid or allow to rule over their life.

Don’t run away from stress; step toward what you want! Click To Tweet

3. One Step at a Time: Take a measurable action

Of course, things need to actually get done in order to give you the outcome that you want. However, many of these things easily become tedious and/or overwhelming. Don’t get scattered, because you’ll feel as though you’ve accomplished nothing, even if you’ve accomplished something.

It is often true that your next step will only become clear once you’ve taken the current step at hand. Many of your to-do items are really many items combined. Pick a handful of your to-do items, and write down a small, bite-sized action step that you can take toward checking that item off of your list.

Moving forward, try this challenge: Put only three things on your must-do list for today. Any other to-dos take a back seat and will be considered a “bonus.” Once you’ve tried this for 3-4 days, how do you feel? What have you accomplished?

One small action can set productivity into motion. Click To Tweet

4. Let go of the value of the outcome

Once you have your outcome in mind, let it go! The time to think about the end goal is before you start and when you take pause to regroup. While you’re taking action, the outcome must be far from your mind. Instead, focus on what you’re actually doing in that moment. How does it feel?

By practicing this, you’ll accomplish much more and feel more fulfilled by the things that you spend your time doing. If your mind is always on what’s next, you won’t get any good work done in the moment.

Try a variety of ways to enjoy each step of productivity, such as practicing gratitude for new ideas, appreciating a small amount of work, or checking in with how your body feels while you’re working and taking time to get comfortable, energized or inspired (whichever your goal might be).

I give myself permission to enjoy my day. Click To Tweet

Bonus tip: Talking it out.

Talking out ideas and action steps works when you have an intention for your conversation.

Sometimes talking about it just causes dwelling on it and even increases overwhelm.

To make talking it out a part of the productivity process, talk about your tasks or situation with a willing and worthy person (someone who cares, knows you and/or knows the way you do things) with the intention of finding clarity for yourself and eventually being more clear on what action step to take.

Don’t push yourself to figure it out all at once; you can let loose and vent, and then bring it back around to a direct action step.

Want more?

These steps can change your stress level in a matter of moments. The most profound change happens when we start to use useful tools on a consistent basis.

However, stress, doubt and worry can make it much more difficult to use these tools to their fullest potential. Take a huge step toward less stress and more productivity by setting up an appointment with me. Contact me here.

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