How Stress Kills Your Productivity

It’s a rarely discussed issue, that you can easily fix


Last week, I had just finished a stress management workshop meeting at a client’s head office and as I’m walking out, I notice one guy, just sitting, frozen, staring blankly at his computer screen in his cubicle. I took a few more steps, then stopped and went up to his desk and asked him how he was doing?

He responds by telling me “I’m just so busy.”

Okay, what are you working on? Then I look at his monitor. It’s filled with 9 tabs, 3 work related and the rest Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, etc. His screen is open to Facebook and he’s busy checking the latest posts on his newsfeed.

Now he’s definitely busy, but is he productive? Absolutly not!

This is a scenario I see in every one of my client’s offices when I first enter. Have you ever been in a similar situation, where you’re so overloaded with work that you check out and waste time. Does this then lead you to feel guilty/upset that you didn’t do what you were supposed to?

There’s so much focus on stress-related Absenteeism, but it’s lesser known and more destructive counterpart, Presenteeism is what we’ll focus on because it’s been estimated that lost productivity from presenteeism is 3 times more common than productivity lost due to absenteeism.

First, let’s define what Presenteeism is:

Being present at the workplace but not being productive due to an illness, lack of motivation, or work overload.

It drops employee engagement, enjoyment, and productivity. You check out mentally and float through the motions as you’re “busy,” but not productive.

Do you know anyone that fits this category, perhaps, like myself, maybe you might even be you from time to time ☺

Now just because it’s common, doesn’t mean it it’s how you must work.

How you can win fight back against presenteeism:

1. Organize a list of priorities to complete and only look at the first item until it’s finished.

This may seem obvious, but I commonly see employees getting stressed and overwhelmed because they have massive to-do lists or even worse, are trying to remember everything they need to do. We have a limited amount of brain capacity and when it’s overloaded with information, items get missed and we blank out and our ability to perform decreases.

2. Take a break ever 60-90 minutes.

It’s also common that business professionals will try to grind through their tasks for hours straight with the false belief that they’re being productive. We can only work at a high speed for a short period of time, what you end up doing is “working” but not getting much actually accomplished. When you take a break every 60-90 minutes, you train yourself to work effetively for this short burst, then thekey is to disengage. Going on Facebok doesn’t count ☺ Take 5-10 minutes and take a walk outside, eat something healthy, etc. It changes your energy levels and when you return, you’re prepared to work effectively again.

3. Fast Energy = Fast Crash: It’s too good to be true

This is such a major part that I know firsthand of it’s potential damage. When starting my first office job, I didn’t drink coffee and was very fit. In a short period of time, I started drinking one cup of coffee in the morning because I had a poor nights sleep and needed that jolt. Then I would crash and would search for energy so a chocolate bar at 10am was the solution. This led to more coffee and the cycle continued until work was over and another terrible night sleep and the cycle started over again the next day. So will you get the boost of energy? Yes. Will it cost you very soon after. Yes. Going the instant energy route, caffeine, chocolate, soda, is like taking a cash advance, you get the cash, but you always will pay it back with interest.

Aside from the rapid weight gain, I felt sluggish, my energy levels were way down as was my work performance. The biggest culprits that I experience with my clients, is either they don’t eat a good breakfast (if any at all) or they use quick energy food sources that are not sustainable. My first suggestion is that you eat a healthy breakfast. My favorites include oatmeal, eggs with avocados, smoothies. They provide the energy needed for a good start and set the pace for the quality of food you’re going to eat for the day. If you start off with junk food, you’ll likely make the decision that you’ve already fallen off, so why not continue. It’s never too late, you’re only a smoothie away!

The other part is snacking between lunch and the end of the day. This is where smoothies, nuts, dates, etc will provide you with the slow-release energy you need to perform better at work and avoid the dreaded condition of being “Hangry” which is when you get snappy or easily irritated because you haven’t eaten in a while.

These tips will all reduce your stress levels, boost your engagement, and make you more productive.

Comment below on what you do to reduce stress and be more productive.

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