UK: SME/Professional Counsel - Stress - Prioritise to combat stress.

UK: SME/Professional Counsel - Stress - Prioritise to combat stress. - Too much to do? Take 20 minutes to prioritise and delegate.

by Rob Yeung is a business psychologist at Nicholson McBride 0171724 0232.
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Too much to do? Take 20 minutes to prioritise and delegate.

Stress is serious. Apart from making you feel tired, tense or irritable, it can jeopardise your physical health, increasing your susceptibility to a variety of physical illnesses ranging from the common cold to heart disease.

Many managers of smaller businesses simply have too much to do. Consequently, good time management and prioritisation skills are essential. Various systems exist for making the most of your time but individuals will need to find what works best for them.

One idea is to make a list of tasks at the beginning of a day, rating them as one for critical, two for important and three for routine. Work your way through them, starting with the ones, then the twos - if you don't have time for the threes, upgrade them for the next day or forget them.

Few managers delegate as effectively as they could. This is especially common among managers of smaller, growth businesses. They may have started out with few or no staff so that even when their workforce increases, they have got into the habit of doing everything themselves, believing that they can do it better and faster than anyone else.

Delegation is about investing a little time in the short term to save yourself lots of time in the long term. The art is to learn to relinquish control and trust others. It is also vital to give explicit instructions, set clear deadlines and coach employees rather than direct them.

If there is no way for you to tackle the causes of stress, there are a number of options for reducing its symptoms. It's a cliche that 'a problem shared is a problem halved' but self-disclosure, or opening up and talking to friends or professional mentors, really does work. Other alternatives include physical exercise, relaxation, and cognitive training.

If you are already working a 12-hour day, it is worth taking 10-20 minutes out of it to make your working life more tolerable.

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