Have you ever noticed the impact of high stress on your personal productivity, or the productivity of your organization?
All along, if I would just stop, think purposefully and broaden my perspective for a few minutes, I would likely be inspired to solutions that would otherwise be closed off to me.
Maybe I need to talk about the problem with the project stakeholders, or ask a teammate or an expert for help?
Often, stopping my work and taking a few minutes to think leads me to a different course to solve the problem much more quickly than if I would have just kept running.
Actually, according to the Yerkes–Dodson law, a little stress will increase your productivity! One might think about the effects of stress on productivity as an inverse parabolic curve.
When stress is very low, productivity is low. When stress increases to an optimal level, so will productivity. As stress continues beyond optimal, productivity decreases and will decrease to zero if the stress becomes extreme.
When you find yourself in a stressful situation, what can you do to keep your productivity at an optimal level?
I think we can save time and energy when we recognize our stress is approaching a level where our performance could be negatively impacted, rather than after we make a mistake.
The most obvious indicator is that you aren’t able to think clearly.
Over the years I’ve come to learn that my left shoulder becomes sore from tension and I find myself feeling irritated over minor issues. Others notice jaw clenching, eye twitching, or general anxiety. Awareness of your body’s responses to excessive stress will help you to know when it’s time to be more purposeful in certain areas or a change in strategy is needed.
When you recognize one of your responses, here are some ideas on how to bring it back down to a productive level: