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Mindful Monday: Lists, Lists, Lists—Your Very Own Handy Dandy Stress Reducer

Dec 12, 2016

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Nancy Fredericks

Nancy Fredericks pens IWLC's "Mindful Mondays" column, appearing the second Monday of every month. Fredericks is a preeminent Business Executive Strategist, Author and Thought Leader. Corporations like Johnson & Johnson, PepsiCo, Adobe, Allergan and Transamerica have retained her to optimize individual and organizational performance. You can find her at www.CareerStretchZone.com.

Tis the season of sugar plums, fruitcakes, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, and a boatload of stress. The "season of cheer" only magnifies the stress levels for women who are already bogged down by their over-packed schedules, as well as juggling multiple jobs—mother, executive, volunteer, watchdog, and resolution-maker of all that is out of control. 

Let’s look at action steps you can initiate to reduce stress at work; and then, perhaps you can translate one or more of these ideas into your jam-packed Christmas Holiday calendar. It would be my joy if you received a "two-for-one benefit" from the suggestions.

One of the quickest ways to overcome stress is to create a list. As you sit down to inventory and categorize your undertakings, your stress level immediately drops. Why?

  1. Mental Energy Reliever: The effort to keep track of every individual project on your desk has your brain spinning in high-gear striving to complete everything. As you record your thoughts, your mind stops circling the drain, and instead can concentrate on getting something done!
  2. Mini-Planning: A list provides visual clarity. It is you proactively pre-planning. Hopefully, you create your list based on pressing priorities—not recording every willy-nilly thought that passes through your mind. Generating list upon list with no discernment will only add stress to your life—not diminish it! 
  3. Less Is Better:  To achieve more productivity and to limit your stress, it would be wise to keep your list to a minimum of six of your most critical projects. This lower number aids you in aligning your time and effort to the tasks that will produce the highest leverage outcomes. You see when entries are left unfinished they nag at your heart, creating stress which is the very issue you’re attempting to relieve! 
  4. Reward: You receive a sense of satisfaction as you check item after item off your list. In today’s business world, any tangible result—no matter how infinitesimal—offers a sense of fulfillment, and that is a good thing, as well as a stress reducing thing.

If you are someone vigilantly adhering to your list, change your attitude. While there is no question that producing a list is a stress reducer, you have to be gentle with yourself. Interacting with your list from a fluid, flexible point of view is healthy. A rigid attitude that has you persisting against all the odds as you diligently attempt to complete each item no matter what else is going on defeats the purpose. Such a limiting frame of mind is guaranteed to up your stress level rather than calm it down.

By the way, your list-making habit will lead to being noticed by your company as a high potential employee. Why? You will radiate the quiet center of a leader as you produce more with better results. How is that for a powerful tip? It all originates from your choice to be exceptional and to faithfully keep your most time-sensitive, highest-priority tasks top of mind.

And perhaps by applying these tips in your personal life, you will have the best holiday season ever! It is my wish for you.

 



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