Work/Life Balance

The 4-Step System I Use To Reduce Stress & Increase My Productivity

By | Tuesday, January 17, 2017

“Time is what we want most, but what we use the worst.” -William Penn

In this day and age, it seems like stress has become an accepted part of life. Busyness is worn as a badge of honor, working long hours is applauded, and running on only a few hours of sleep is thought of as normal. While I’m all in favor of the hustle, especially when it can bring in additional income to help you reach your goals more quickly, it’s necessary to find sustainable boundaries. It’s important to not just work harder, but to also work smarter.

Part of the way I’ve been able to balance everything I have going on in life is by implementing a certain system. It helps me clear my thoughts and increase my productivity. Here are some of the techniques I use:

1. “Brain dump” everything

The art of “brain dumping” is simple: every now and then, whether it’s daily, weekly, or on the spot, get everything you can written down. For random thoughts, blog post ideas, or to-do list items, I use Evernote. Evernote is basically an online notebook that you can access with any of your devices. It’s really convenient to jot down a quick note, and then come back to it at a later time when you need it. You can also add pictures, documents, clipping from websites, etc.

Events go into our family calendar, which is stored in iCloud. As soon as an event is added, my wife and I can both see it from our phones or laptops. For smaller day-to-day reminders, I set up in my phone for specific times during the day. I get a notification on my phone, and it keeps me from forgetting anything.

For our grocery shopping list, we simply have a notepad on the counter and when we come across something we’ve run out of, we add it to the list. Then, when the list starts to get long, we can take it to the store and avoid forgetting anything.

Rather than having dozens of thoughts buzzing around in your head that you “need to remember,” writing them down gets them out of your mental space. Then, when you actually have the time to focus on those tasks, you’re not wasting time or energy trying to remember them all. It’s draining and distracting to constantly be trying to keep a mental to-do list throughout the day. This technique helps reduce stress, makes you less likely to forget something, and clears your mental state.

For more apps to help you improve your productivity and organization, check out this post.

2. Automate

The more you’re able to automate, the less you’ll have to remember, and the less time things will take up. It takes a small time investment up front, but it’s WELL worth it to set up auto-pay for all your bills, and setup automatic monthly transfers for your savings and investing goals. Once this system is in place, it greatly reduces your stress and avoids potential for human error.

By having this system, I know that my bills are getting paid, and we’re getting closer to our long-term goals without me needing to constantly think about them. I still track our expenses closely to make sure the money is going where it’s supposed to, and that there’s nothing out of the ordinary.

3. Declutter

Decluttering various areas of your life can greatly reduce stress and aid your productivity. Sell or get rid of items you don’t use that are just taking up space in your home. Sign up for paperless bills and account statements to save time sorting through your mail. Organize your email inbox, and delete emails you no longer need. Delete old bookmarks stored in your internet browser. Prune down your social media feeds by unfollowing or unsubscribing from accounts you no longer care about. Delete apps off your cellphone that you don’t actually use. Clean out your car, and organize your office desk.

The more you can declutter and remove from your day-to-day life, the better you can focus on what truly matters.

4. Protect yourself

I’m an optimistic person and I live my life that way. However, it’s also important to plan for potential bad circumstances. When you protect yourself from potential bad circumstances, you greatly aid your peace of mind. Some examples of this are building up an emergency fund, backing up your cell phone content and important electronic documents, and having the proper insurance in place. A lot of life is out of our control, so rather than hoping that nothing ever goes wrong, plan for the worst, so that it doesn’t hurt as badly.

Life gets extremely busy sometimes. By implementing effective systems in your life, you’ll be able to boost your productivity, reduce stress, and spend more time on what you enjoy.

Image via Unsplash

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