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How Stress Impacts Productivity and How to Overcome It

How stress impacts productivity

Stress can negatively affect your productivity and quality of work. High levels of stress can leave you with a lack of energy, creativity and focus, increased feelings of anxiety. When your mind is worrying, it draws your attention away from the task at hand. It is mentally draining and decreases your productivity in the present moment increasing the chance of overlooking small mistakes. It can also take a physical toll on your body. More frequent sick days can result in an even larger loss of productivity. 

Some levels of stress can be good for boosting your motivation and productivity, however. Not feeling stress about the tasks at hand can leave you bored, unengaged and uninterested in doing a good job, but slightly increased levels can help to spark interest, creativity, and increase our engagement and productivity. As stress increases, productivity and performance also increase—up to a point.

The Yerkes-Dodson law says the dependency between stress and productivity/performance follows a bell curve. Optimal stress levels for peak performance differ for each person and also depend on the complexity and your familiarity with the task at hand.

Tips and tricks for reducing stress

If you are feeling very high stress levels, there are some things you can try to reduce that.

As always, make sure you are tending to personal care at home. Getting a good night’s rest is #1 in the stress reduction tool kit. Also, make sure you are also eating nutritious foods and fitting regular exercise into your schedule throughout the week. 

Meditation and focused breathing are also great sources of relief. Partake in relaxation, fun, and/or creativity experienced through other personal hobbies or outlets outside of work. Journaling or talking with someone else can also help to identify your source(s) of stress. This enables you to take direct action to solve the root cause of the problem. 

To reduce stress during the workday, take periodic breaks to give your brain and body time to rest and reset. If you are feeling overwhelmed, try to reduce your workload by delegating or outsourcing some of your tasks, when possible. Using a time and task management system helps reduce stress, allowing you to feel more organized so nothing slips through the cracks. Lastly, try to focus on the aspects of your work that you do have control over. If you are able, choose projects to work on that you are personally more interested in. As a result, you’ll be more invested in the end product. By increasing your sense of control over your tasks, you’ll feel more engaged and stimulated by your work and in turn your focus and productivity will increase.  

Or, increase your stress and feel more engaged

If you are at the other end of the bell curve and need to increase your stress levels at work a bit in order to feel more engaged, try some of these tricks:

Set deadlines for yourself if they don’t already exist. Don’t get stuck with the same project for ages, but be realistic when considering how long a task or project might take to complete.

Set higher goals for yourself and expand your responsibilities if you have the opportunity. As you now know, boredom can be just as bad for your productivity as high stress levels. If you are feeling bored or unsatisfied, try to take on more responsibility for projects with increased complexity. 

Another trick is to imagine you’re being observed. The Hawthorne Effect is a psychological phenomenon which shows people increase their focus on a task when they know they are being watched. You could even find a body double/accountability buddy to work with so you both feel that sense of responsibility to do the work because you know someone is watching. 

We can help you find the balance

Stress is a spectrum and a natural part of life for everyone. Different levels of stress may assist or hinder your performance, depending on you and the type of work you do. If you are feeling too stressed to be fully present and productive, OR you are feeling bored and not engaged enough to produce your best work, try some of the tricks above to find the optimal level of stress needed to reach your peak productivity and performance levels. 

How do you handle stress and not let it derail you? If you feel that stress is getting in the way of your productivity, there are several ways that Simply Placed can help! Start by scheduling your free no-risk Discovery Call today.

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