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Posts Tagged ‘Stress Management’

When Stressed, Men Charge Ahead, Women More Careful, Study Finds

Posted by Sun on July 5, 2012

ScienceDaily (June 3, 2011) — Stress causes men and women to respond differently to risky decision making, with men charging ahead for small rewards and women taking their time, according to a new study in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, published by Oxford University Press. Under stress, men and women also have different brain activation patterns during decision making.

There might be advantages to both stress responses, especially in areas with the need to weigh short-term gain and long-term benefits, such as the stock market, health decisions or retirement planning, according to lead author on the study Nichole Lighthall, a USC doctoral student.

The experiment might also have implications for daily life and relationships, Lighthall said.

Stress caused men and women to make decisions differently, but when stress was absent their behavior and brain activation was much more similar, Lighthall said. Men and women faced with tough decisions might improve their communication by waiting until a stressful situation has passed, Lighthall said. “Men and women appear to think more similarly when they are not stressed,” Lighthall said. “You should be aware of the way you are biased in your decisions.”

After being subjected to stress, men appeared to be more motivated to act quickly while women would slow down, Lighthall said.

For men under stress, playing a risk-taking game stimulated areas in the brain that are activated when one gets a reward or satisfies an addiction. The same experiment found diminished brain activity for women in the same areas when they were stressed.

“It appears women do not feel the drive to get a reward as much under stress,” Lighthall said.

Participants were given a task of filling up a computer-simulated balloon with as much air as possible without popping the balloon.

Subjects earned from $4 to $45 based on their performance, with the men earning much more cash under stress.

Lighthall said that although men performed this task better, the more important conclusion may be that important decisions made under stress should include input from both genders.

“It might be better to have more gender diversity on important decision because men and women offer differing perspectives,” Lighthall said. “Being more cautious and taking the time to make a decision will often be the right choice.”

Mara Mather, director of the Emotion and Cognition Lab at USC and associate professor of psychology at USC Dornsige College and gerontology at the USC Davis School of Gerontology, Michiko Sakaki, Sarinnapha Vasunilashorn, Lin Nga, Sangeetha Somayajula, Eri Y. Chin and Nicole Samii, also of the USC Davis School, were co-authors of the study.

Last year Lighthall authored a study in the journal PLoS One that showed that men under stress may be more likely to take risks, correlating to such real-life behavior as gambling, smoking, unsafe sex and illegal drug use.

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Men Are More Likely Than Women To Crave Alcohol When They Feel Negative Emotions

Posted by Sun on June 4, 2012

ScienceDaily (May 11, 2008) — Women and men tend to have different types of stress-related psychological disorders. Women have greater rates of depression and some types of anxiety disorders than men, while men have greater rates of alcohol-use disorders than women. A new study of emotional and alcohol-craving responses to stress has found that when men become upset, they are more likely than women to want alcohol.

“We know that women and men respond to stress differently,” said Tara M. Chaplin, associate research scientist at Yale University School of Medicine and first author of the study. “For example, following a stressful experience, women are more likely than men to say that they feel sad or anxious, which may lead to risk for depression and anxiety disorders. Some studies have found that men are more likely to drink alcohol following stress than women. If this becomes a pattern, it could lead to alcohol-use disorders.”

As part of a larger study, the researchers exposed 54 healthy adult social drinkers (27 women, 27 men) to three types of imagery scripts — stressful, alcohol-related, and neutral/relaxing — in separate sessions, on separate days and in random order. Chaplin and her colleagues then assessed participants’ subjective emotions, behavioral/bodily responses, cardiovascular arousal as indicated by heart rate and blood pressure, and self-reported alcohol craving.

“After listening to the stressful story, women reported more sadness and anxiety than men,” said Chaplin, “as well as greater behavioral arousal. But, for the men … emotional arousal was linked to increases in alcohol craving. In other words, when men are upset, they are more likely to want alcohol.”

These findings — in addition to the fact that the men drank more than the women on average — meant that the men had more experience with alcohol, perhaps leading them to turn to alcohol as a way of coping with distress, added Chaplin. “Men’s tendency to crave alcohol when upset may be a learned behavior or may be related to known gender differences in reward pathways in the brain,” she said. “And this tendency may contribute to risk for alcohol-use disorders.”

There is a greater societal acceptance of “emotionality,” particularly sadness and anxiety, in women than in men, noted Chaplin.

“Women are more likely than men to focus on negative emotional aspects of stressful circumstances, for example, they tend to ‘ruminate’ or think over and over again about their negative emotional state,” she said. “Men, in contrast, are more likely to distract themselves from negative emotions, to try not to think about these emotions. Our finding that men had greater blood pressure response to stress, but did not report greater sadness and anxiety, may reflect that they are more likely to try to distract themselves from their physiological arousal, possibly through the use of alcohol.”

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Men and Women Respond Differently to Stress

Posted by Sun on June 4, 2012

ScienceDaily (Mar. 23, 2010) — Age and gender play a major role in how people respond to stress, according to a new study on 20-to-64-year-olds. Published in the journal Psychophysiology, the investigation was led by scientists from the Université de Montréal and the Montreal Heart Institute in collaboration with colleagues from the Université du Québec à Montréal and McGill University.

“Our findings suggest that women who are more defensive are at increased cardiovascular risk, whereas low defensiveness appears to damage the health of older men,” says Bianca D’Antono, a professor at the Université de Montréal Department of Psychiatry and a Montreal Heart Institute researcher.

Defensiveness is a trait characterized by avoidance, denial or repression of information perceived as threatening. In women, a strong defensive reaction to judgment from others or a threat to self-esteem will result in high blood pressure and heart rate. Contrarily, older men with low defensive reactions have a higher cardiovascular rates.

The study was conducted on 81 healthy working men and 118 women. According to Dr. Jean-Claude Tardif a Université de Montréal professor and Montreal Heart Institute researcher, the physiological response to stress in women and older men is linked to this desire of maintaining self-esteem and securing social bonds.

“The sense of belonging is a basic human need,” says D’Antono. “Our findings suggest that socialization is innate and that belonging to a group contributed to the survival of our ancestors. Today, it is possible that most people view social exclusion as a threat to their existence. A strong defensive reaction is useful to maintain one’s self-esteem faced with this potential threat.”

As part of the experiment, participants completed four tasks of varying stress levels. The first task involved reading a neutral text on Antarctica’s geography before a person of the same sex. The second and third tasks involved role-playing in which participants followed a script where they were sometimes agreeable and sometimes aggressive. The final task involved a non-scripted debate on abortion.

Heart rate and blood pressure were measured during each of these tasks as was the level of cortisol in saliva. Results showed that women and older men had elevated cardiovascular, autonomic and endocrine responses to stress — all potentially damaging to their health. The research team cautions, however, that more studies are needed to evaluate the long-term effects of defensiveness and its association to stress response patterns in disease development.

This study was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Fonds de la recherche en santé du Québec.

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Positive Reframing, Acceptance and Humor Are the Most Effective Coping Strategies

Posted by Sun on June 4, 2012

ScienceDaily (July 4, 2011) — New research from the University of Kent has revealed that positive reframing, acceptance and humour are the most effective coping strategies for people dealing with failures.

In a paper published by the international journal Anxiety, Stress & Coping, Dr Joachim Stoeber and Dr Dirk Janssen from the University’s School of Psychology describe a diary study that found these three strategies to be most effective in dealing with small failures and setbacks, and helping people to keep up their spirits and feel satisfied at the end of the day.

For the study, a sample of 149 students completed daily diary reports for 3 — 14 days, reporting the most bothersome failure they experienced during the day, what strategies they used to cope with the failure, and how satisfied they felt at the end of the day. Their coping strategies included: using emotional or instrumental support; self-distraction; denial; religion; venting; substance use; self-blame; and behavioural disengagement.

Of these, using social support (both emotional and instrumental), denial, venting, behavioural disengagement, and self-blame coping had negative effects on satisfaction at the end of the day: the more students used these coping strategies in dealing with the day’s most bothersome failure, the less satisfied they felt at the end of the day.

In contrast, positive reframing (i.e. trying to see things in a more positive light, looking for something good in what happened), acceptance and humour coping had positive effects on satisfaction: the more students used these coping strategies in dealing with failures, the more satisfied they felt at the end of the day.

Dr Stoeber, a leading authority on perfectionism, motivation and performance, believes that the findings of this study will be of significant interest to clinicians, counsellors and anyone working on stress research. He said: ‘The finding that positive reframing was helpful for students high in perfectionistic concerns is particularly important because it suggests that even people high in perfectionistic concerns, who have a tendency to be dissatisfied no matter what they achieve, are able to experience high levels of satisfaction if they use positive reframing coping when dealing with perceived failures.’

He added that a helpful recommendation for anyone trying to cope would be to try to find positive aspects in the outcomes they regard as ‘failures’; and reframe these outcomes in a more positive way; for example, by focusing on what has been achieved, rather than on what has not been achieved. ‘It’s no use ruminating about small failures and setbacks and drag yourself further down,’ he said. ‘Instead it is more helpful to try to accept what happened, look for positive aspects and — if it is a small thing — have a laugh about it.’

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Brain Imaging Shows How Men And Women Cope Differently Under Stress

Posted by Sun on June 4, 2012

ScienceDaily (Nov. 19, 2007) — According to a study that appears in the current issue of SCAN (Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience), researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine discuss how men and women differ in their neural responses to psychological stress.

“We found that different parts of the brain activate with different spatial and temporal profiles for men and women when they are faced with performance-related stress,” says J.J. Wang, PhD, Assistant Professor or Radiology and Neurology, and lead author of the study.

These findings suggest that stress responses may be fundamentally different in each gender, sometimes characterized as “fight-or-flight” in men and “tend-and-befriend” in women. Evolutionarily, males may have had to confront a stressor either by overcoming or fleeing it, while women may have instead responded by nurturing offspring and affiliating with social groups that maximize the survival of the species in times of adversity. The “fight-or-flight” response is associated with the main stress hormone system that produces cortisol in the human body — the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis.

Thirty-two healthy subjects — 16 females and 16 males — received fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scans before, during and after they underwent a challenging arithmetic task (serial subtraction of 13 from a 4 digit number), under pressure. To increase the level of stress, the researchers frequently prompted participants for a faster performance and asked them to restart the task if they responded incorrectly. As a low stress control condition, participants were asked to count backward without pressure.

The researchers measured heart rate, cortisol levels (a stress hormone), subjects’ perceived stress levels throughout the experiments, and regional cerebral blood flow (CBF), which provides a marker of regional brain function. In men, it was found that stress was associated with increased CBF in the right prefrontal cortex and CBF reduction in the left orbitofrontal cortex. In women, the limbic system — a part of the brain primarily involved in emotion — was activated when they were under stress.

Both men and women’s brain activation lasted beyond the stress task, but the lasting response in the female brain was stronger. The neural response among the men was associated with higher levels of cortisol, whereas women did not have as much association between brain activation to stress and cortisol changes.

“Women have twice the rate of depression and anxiety disorders compared to men,” notes Dr. Wang. “Knowing that women respond to stress by increasing activity in brain regions involved with emotion, and that these changes last longer than in men, may help us begin to explain the gender differences in the incidence of mood disorders.”

Additional researchers involved with this study are Marc Korczykowski, Penn; Hengyi Rao, Penn; Yong Fan, Penn; John Pluta, Penn; Ruben Gur, Penn; Bruce McEwen, The Rockefeller University; and John Detre, Penn. This study was conducted at the Center for Functional Neuroimaging at the University of Pennsylvania.

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Moderate Sleep and Less Stress May Help With Weight Loss

Posted by Sun on May 24, 2012

ScienceDaily (Mar. 29, 2011) — If you want to increase your chances of losing weight, reduce your stress level and get adequate sleep. A new Kaiser Permanente study found that people trying to lose at least 10 pounds were more likely to reach that goal if they had lower stress levels and slept more than six hours but not more than eight hours a night.

The paper, published March 29 in theInternational Journal of Obesity, was the result of a study funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Nearly 500 participants from Kaiser Permanente in Oregon and Washington took part in the study, which measured whether sleep, stress, depression, television viewing, and computer screen time were correlated with weight loss. Several previous studies have found an association between these factors and obesity, but few have looked at whether these factors predict weight loss.

“This study suggests that when people are trying to lose weight, they should try to get the right amount of sleep and reduce their stress,” said lead author Charles Elder, MD, MPH, an investigator with the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore., who also leads Integrative Medicine at Kaiser Permanente Northwest. “Some people may just need to cut back on their schedules and get to bed earlier. Others may find that exercise can reduce stress and help them sleep. For some people, mind/body techniques such as meditation also might be helpful.”

The study involved two phases: during the first phase, participants were asked to lose at least 10 pounds over six months. If they succeeded, they moved to the second year-long phase of the study, which tested a complementary acupressure technique against more traditional weight-maintenance strategies. Findings from phase two are not yet available.

During the study’s first phase, all participants attended weekly meetings at which they were weighed and advised to reduce calorie intake by 500 calories per day, adopt a low-fat, low-sugar diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, increase physical activity to 180 minutes a week, and keep daily food records. People who kept more food records and attended more meetings were more likely to lose weight during this phase of the trial.

Participants also were asked to report levels of insomnia, stress and depression, and to record how much time they slept and spent watching television or using a computer. The research team found that sleep and stress levels were good predictors of weight loss, but depression and screen time were not.

People with the lowest stress levels who also got more than six hours, but not more than eight hours, of sleep were most likely to lose at least 10 pounds. In fact, nearly three-quarters of this group moved on to the second phase of the trial, and were twice as likely to be successful as those who reported the highest stress levels and got six or fewer hours of sleep per night.

Participants who qualified for the second phase were divided into two groups: one received monthly guided instruction in the Tapas Acupressure Technique, which involves lightly touching specific pressure points on the face and back of the head while focusing on a problem (i.e., maintaining weight loss). The other group also met monthly with a trained interventionist and a support group, but used more traditional nutrition and exercise techniques to keep weight off. Both groups met for six months and then were followed for another six months to see which group kept more weight off. Results of that phase of the trial should be available in late 2011 or early 2012.

The study authors caution that their findings may not apply to all groups trying to lose weight. The authors also noted that the participants were highly motivated, and that 90 percent had attended at least some college.

These studies are part of ongoing research at Kaiser Permanente to better understand weight loss and the key factors to maintaining optimum weight. Another Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research study last year found that the more people logged on to an interactive weight management website, the more weight they kept off. Researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research also found that keeping a food diary can double a person’s weight loss and that both personal contact and web-based support can help with long-term weight management.

Study authors include: Charles R. Elder, MD, MPH, Christina M. Gullion, PhD, Kristine L. Funk, MS, Lynn L. DeBar, PhD, Nangel M. Lindberg, PhD, and Victor J. Stevens, PhD, all from the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore.

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Stress and Alcohol ‘Feed’ Each Other

Posted by Sun on May 24, 2012

ScienceDaily (July 15, 2011) — Acute stress is thought to precipitate alcohol drinking. Yet the ways that acute stress can increase alcohol consumption are unclear. A new study investigated whether different phases of response to an acute stressor can alter the subjective effects of alcohol. Findings indicate bi-directional relationships between alcohol and stress.

Results will be published in the October 2011 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Researchand are currently available at Early View.

“Anecdotal reports suggest that alcohol dampens the physiological or negative emotional effects of stress but this has been hard to demonstrate in the lab,” said Emma Childs, research associate at The University of Chicago and corresponding author for the study. “Another way that stress could increase drinking is by altering alcohol’s effects. For example, if stress reduces the intoxicating effects of alcohol, individuals may drink more alcohol to produce the same effect.

Childs explained that the body’s reaction to stress involves separate physiological and emotional consequences that occur at different times after the stress. “For example,” she said, “the increase in heart rate and blood pressure, the release of cortisol, and also the increased feelings of tension and negative mood each reach a climax and dissipate at a different rate. Therefore, drinking more alcohol might have different effects, depending on how long after the stress a person drinks.”

Study subjects comprised 25 healthy men who participated in two sessions, one where they performed a stressful public speaking task and one with a non-stressful control task.

“The public speaking task we used is standardized and used by many researchers,” said Childs. “It reliably produces significant stress reactions, including increases in heart rate, blood pressure, cortisol and feelings of tension. Moreover, because it is so widely used, the results can be compared directly to those from other studies. The public speaking task is also ecologically valid in that it represents a stressful event that many people experience outside the laboratory.”

After each task, participants received intravenously administered infusions containing alcohol (the equivalent of 2 standard drinks) and placebo. One group of participants (n=11) received alcohol within one minute of completing the tasks, followed by the placebo 30 minutes later. The other group (n=14) received the placebo infusion first, followed by the alcohol. Researchers measured subjective effects such as anxiety, stimulation, and desire for more alcohol, as well as physiological measures such as heart rate, blood pressure, and salivary cortisol before and at repeated intervals after the tasks and infusions.

“The results demonstrated bi-directional relationships between alcohol and stress,” said Childs. “Alcohol can change the way that the body deals with stress: it can decrease the hormone cortisol which the body releases to respond to stress, and it can prolong the feelings of tension produced by the stress. Stress can also change how alcohol makes a person feel: it can reduce the pleasant effects of alcohol or increase craving for more alcohol.”

Childs added that it is often hard to separate alcohol’s effects upon stress reactions from its effects on the perception of how stressful an experience is. “However, in our study we administered alcohol after the stressful experience, then examined the effects of alcohol on stress responses so ruling out any effect of alcohol upon perception of the stress. We showed that alcohol decreases the hormonal response to the stress, but also extends the negative subjective experience of the event. We also showed that stress decreased the pleasant effects of the alcohol. These findings illustrate a complex bi-directional interactions between stress and alcohol.”

In summary, said Childs, using alcohol to cope with stress may actually make a person’s response to stress worse, and prolong recovery from a stressor. “Stress may also alter the way that alcohol makes us feel in a way that increases the likelihood of drinking more alcohol,” she said. “Stress responses are beneficial in that they help us to react to adverse events. By altering the way that our bodies deal with stress, we may be increasing the risks of developing stress-related diseases, not the least of which is alcohol addiction.”

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Depression and Chronic Stress Accelerates Aging

Posted by Sun on May 24, 2012

ScienceDaily (Nov. 9, 2011) — People with recurrent depressions or those exposed to chronic stress exhibits shorter telomeres in white blood cells. This is shown by a research team at Umeå University in a coming issue of Biological Psychiatry.

The telomere is the outermost part of the chromosome. With increasing age, telomeres shorten, and studies have shown that oxidative stress and inflammation accelerates this shortening. On this basis it has been suggested that telomere length is a measure of biological aging, and telomere length has subsequently been linked to age-related diseases, unhealthy lifestyle, and longevity. The research team shows that shorter telomere length is associated with both recurrent depression and cortisol levels indicative of exposure to chronic stress.

The study includes 91 patients with recurrent depression and 451 healthy controls. Telomere length, measured in white blood cells, is shorter among the patients compared with the control group. The scientists also examined the participants’ stress regulation using a so-called dexamethasone suppression test.

“The test revealed that cortisol levels indicative of chronic stress stress are associated with shorter telomeres in both depressed and healthy individuals,” says Mikael Wikgren, a doctoral candidate in the research group. The fact that depressed patients as a group have shorter telomere lengths compared to healthy individuals can be largely explained by the fact that more depressed people than healthy people have disturbed cortisol regulation, which underscores that cortisol regulation and stress play a major role in depressive disorders.

The article is part of Mikael Wikgren’s dissertation work. The research team, led by Professor Rolf Adolfsson, also includes Karl-Fredrik Norrback, Ph.D, (supervisor), doctoral candidate Martin Maripuu, and project coordinator Annelie Nordin. The study was carried out in collaboration with researchers from the Department of Medical Bioscience, Umeå University, as well as scientists at Stockholm University, Linköping University, and Antwerp University.

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Does Depression Contribute to the Aging Process?

Posted by Sun on May 24, 2012

ScienceDaily (Feb. 21, 2012) — Stress has numerous detrimental effects on the human body. Many of these effects are acutely felt by the sufferer, but many more go ‘unseen’, one of which is shortening of telomere length.

Telomeres are protective caps on the ends of chromosomes and are indicators of aging, as they naturally shorten over time. However, telomeres are also highly susceptible to stress and depression, both of which have repeatedly been linked with premature telomere shortening.

The human stress response is regulated by the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, or HPA axis. This axis controls the body’s levels of cortisol, the primary stress hormone, and it generally does not function normally in individuals with depression- and stress-related illnesses.

Scientists of a new study published this week in Biological Psychiatrysought to bring all this prior work together by studying the relationships between telomere length, stress, and depression.

They did so by measuring telomere length in patients with major depressive disorder and in healthy individuals. They also measured stress, both biologically, by measuring cortisol levels, and subjectively, through a questionnaire.

They found that telomere length was shorter in the depressed patients, which confirmed prior findings. Importantly, they also discovered that shorter telomere length was associated with a low cortisol state in both the depressed and healthy groups.

First author Dr. Mikael Wikgren further explained, “Our findings suggest that stress plays an important role in depression, as telomere length was especially shortened in patients exhibiting an overly sensitive HPA axis. This HPA axis response is something which has been linked to chronic stress and with poor ability to cope with stress.”

“The link between stress and telomere shortening is growing stronger. The current findings suggest that cortisol levels may be a contributor to this process, but it is not yet clear whether telomere length has significance beyond that of a biomarker,” commented Dr. John Krystal, editor of Biological Psychiatry.

Future studies will be needed to determine whether normalizing telomere length is an important component of the treatment process.

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Stress Changes How People Make Decisions

Posted by Sun on May 24, 2012

ScienceDaily (Feb. 28, 2012) — Trying to make a big decision while you’re also preparing for a scary presentation? You might want to hold off on that. Feeling stressed changes how people weigh risk and reward. A new article published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, reviews how, under stress, people pay more attention to the upside of a possible outcome.

It’s a bit surprising that stress makes people focus on the way things could go right, says Mara Mather of the University of Southern California, who cowrote the new review paper with Nichole R. Lighthall. “This is sort of not what people would think right off the bat,” Mather says. “Stress is usually associated with negative experiences, so you’d think, maybe I’m going to be more focused on the negative outcomes.”

But researchers have found that when people are put under stress — by being told to hold their hand in ice water for a few minutes, for example, or give a speech — they start paying more attention to positive information and discounting negative information. “Stress seems to help people learn from positive feedback and impairs their learning from negative feedback,” Mather says.

This means when people under stress are making a difficult decision, they may pay more attention to the upsides of the alternatives they’re considering and less to the downsides. So someone who’s deciding whether to take a new job and is feeling stressed by the decision might weigh the increase in salary more heavily than the worse commute.

The increased focus on the positive also helps explain why stress plays a role in addictions, and people under stress have a harder time controlling their urges. “The compulsion to get that reward comes stronger and they’re less able to resist it,” Mather says. So a person who’s under stress might think only about the good feelings they’ll get from a drug, while the downsides shrink into the distance.

Stress also increases the differences in how men and women think about risk. When men are under stress, they become even more willing to take risks; when women are stressed, they get more conservative about risk. Mather links this to other research that finds, at difficult times, men are inclined toward fight-or-flight responses, while women try to bond more and improve their relationships.

“We make all sorts of decisions under stress,” Mather says. “If your kid has an accident and ends up in the hospital, that’s a very stressful situation and decisions need to be made quickly.” And, of course, big decisions can be sources of stress all by themselves and just make the situation worse. “It seems likely that how much stress you’re experiencing will affect the way you’re making the decision.”

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How Stress Makes You Fat

Posted by Sun on May 24, 2012

By: Lisa Turner

How many times have you heard someone say “it’s just stress”? There’s no “just” about it — stress has been linked to depression, cardiovascular disease,HIV/AIDS, breast cancer and other diseases. And when it comes to food, eating, digestion and weight, stress is a critical factor.

A number of studies have shown that stress leads to weight gain,[1] partly by increasing the body’s cravings for sugary carbs and fatty foods.[2] In one study, a group of college-age men and women were told that they would have to prepare a short speech that would be recorded and assessed for quality. All of the participants were so stressed by this news that their blood pressure went up and their mood declined. Then they were presented with a selection of food and told that they could eat as much as they wanted. All of the stressed-out group ate 88 percent more fatty, sugary foods than did their unstressed counterparts in a control group.[3]

It’s not just that being tense makes you crave cupcakes; stress also initiates a complex web ofhormonal influences that may prompt the body to hang on to fat. And when you’re stressed, your ability to digest food is also vastly compromised. It’s well-known that stress greatly exacerbates digestive conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS); in one interesting small study of 12 subjects from 1989, deep relaxation was significantly more important than thorough chewing in terms of starting the digestive process.[4]

The solution is simple: Reduce stress and eat slowly. Don’t just take my word for it. A number of studies have borne this out. For example, in one study, simple mindful eating and stress-reduction techniques prevented overweight and obese women from gaining weight, without dieting. As an added bonus, the women who had the greatest reduction in stress also lowered their bodies’ tendencies to hang onto deep belly fat, the kind of fat that’s linked to heart disease and diabetes.[5]

There’s no magic one-size-fits-all stress reduction plan, but some general approaches work for most people:

    • Try meditating. It’s a surefire stress reducer; studies show that meditation combats stress, and some suggest it works by actually changing the brain.[6] Very few of us will park our rears on a cushion and sit still for two hours at a time — but even smaller doses work. Cultivate the habit: Start with five minutes in the morning, and gradually work up to half an hour.

 

    • Get more sleep. If you don’t get enough, or if your quality of sleep is poor, you’ll be more likely to gain weight, partly because the sleep-deprived body craves carbs for quick energy, partly because glucose metabolism is affected.[7] In one study, people with high stress levels and poor sleep were less likely to achieve a 10-pound weight loss goal.[8]

 

 

    • Incorporate stress-reducing foods. If you’re going through a trying time, foods that soothe nerves can help. Stay away from refined sugars, eat adequate protein, and be sure you’re getting magnesium-rich greens, lots of vitamin C, and plenty of omega-3 fats.

 

 

  • Examine your priorities. What’s your purpose on the planet? What’s your life’s work? If you haven’t taken time to establish these, do so. Having a bigger vision keeps you out of the small stressors of daily life — and makes living more enjoyable overall.

 

References:

1. Torres SJ, Nowson CA. “Relationship between stress, eating behavior, and obesity.” Nutrition. 2007 Nov-Dec;23(11-12):887-94.

2. Peters, A., Kubera, B., Hubold, C., et al. “The selfish brain: stress and eating behavior.” Medical Clinic 1, University of Luebeck Luebeck, Germany. Frontiers in Neuroscience 2011; 5:74.

3. Kozak AT, Fought A. “Beyond alcohol and drug addiction. Does the negative trait of low distress tolerance have an association with overeating?” Appetite. 2011 Dec;57(3): 578-81.

4. Morse DR, et al. “Oral digestion of a complex-carbohydrate cereal: effects of stress and relaxation on physiological and salivary measures.” Am J Clin Nutri, 1989; 49: 1, 97-105.

5. Daubenmier J, et al. “Mindfulness intervention for stress eating to reduce cortisol and abdominal fat among overweight and obese women: an exploratory randomized controlled study.” J Obes.2011;2011:651936. Epub 2011 Oct 2.

6. Hölzel BK, et al. “Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density.”Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 2011; 191 (1): 36.

7. Weiss A, et al. “The Association of Sleep Duration with Adolescents’ Fat and Carbohydrate Consumption.” Sleep, 2010: 33:09.

8. Elder CR, et al. “Impact of sleep, screen time, depression and stress on weight change in the intensive weight loss phase of the LIFE study.” International Journal of Obesity, 2011:1-7.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com

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Light Humor In The Workplace Is A Good Thing, Review Shows

Posted by Sun on May 22, 2012

ScienceDaily (Oct. 31, 2007) — It is commonly believed that kidding around at work isn’t a good thing. Well, it is, says a University of Missouri-Columbia researcher, who has examined how workplace humor affects the working environment.

Chris Robert, assistant professor of management in MU’s Robert J. Trulaske, Sr. College of Business, said that humor – particularly joking around about things associated with the job – actually has a positive impact in the workplace. Occasional humor among colleagues, he said, enhances creativity, department cohesiveness and overall performance.

The conclusion was made by examining theories on humor and integrating literature from a wide variety of disciplines that touch on the subject. Several hundred sources were analyzed by Robert and collaborator Wan Yan, a business doctoral student, who have attempted to bring together literature from numerous disciplines to make the case that humor is serious business.

“Humor has a significant impact in organizations,” said Robert, who also teaches psychology in MU’s College of Arts and Science. “Humor isn’t incompatible with goals of the workplace. It’s not incompatible with the organization’s desire to be competitive. In fact, we argue that humor is pretty important. It’s not just clowning around and having fun; it has meaningful impact on cohesiveness in the workplace and communication quality among workers. The ability to appreciate humor, the ability to laugh and make other people laugh actually has physiological effects on the body that cause people to become more bonded.”

In their theoretical paper, Robert and Yan focus on three primary areas:

  • how humor works and its cognitive effects, which the researchers said influences creativity
  • why humor has a positive effect within an organization
  • the influence of humor on positive emotions and the link between positive emotions and improved performance in organizations, and how culture influences the use of humor – particularly in multinational organizations where people might have differences in their sensibilities and sense of humor

Robert stressed the international aspect is an important part of the research and said the paper addresses some of the key cultural differences between the United States and Asian economic powerhouses such as China and India.

“Humor is difficult in cross cultural situations,” he said. “It’s hard to know what’s going to be funny or when to use humor. Some people have suggested that you just avoid it all together; don’t be funny, don’t try to make jokes. We basically reject that and offer some ground rules for understanding when and what kind of humor might be appropriate.”

Reference: “The Case for Developing New Research on Humor and Culture in Organizations: Toward a Higher Grade of Manure,” was published as a chapter in Research in Personnel and Human Resources Management.

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Coping With Abuse in the Work Place

Posted by Sun on May 22, 2012

ScienceDaily (Jan. 5, 2012) — Confronting an abusive boss is easier said than done: employees coping with the stress of abusive treatment prefer to avoid direct communication even though it would be the most effective tactic in terms of emotional well-being. This has been shown in a new study from the University of Haifa, published in the International Journal of Stress Management (American Psychological Association).

“Abusive supervision is highly distressing for employees. Our study shows that the strategies being used by employees to cope with the stress caused by such behavior do not lead to the most positive outcomes,” said Prof. Dana Yagil, who headed the study.

Earlier studies have examined the effect of abusive supervision on employee performance, but the new study set out to determine the effect of the different coping strategies on employee wellbeing. The study, which Prof. Yagil conducted with Prof. Hasida Ben-Zur and Inbal Tamir, of the University of Haifa’s Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Sciences, examined five types of strategies used for coping with the stress factor of abusive treatment: directly communicating with the abusive supervisor to discuss the problems; using forms of ingratiation – i.e., doing favors, using flattery and compliance; seeking support from others; avoiding contact with the supervisor; and what is known as “reframing” – mentally restructuring the abuse in a way that decreases its threat.

Participating in the study were 300 employees who were asked to rate the frequency of experiencing abusive behavior by a supervisor, such as ridicule, invasion of privacy, rudeness and lying. The participants were also asked to rate the frequency of engaging in each of 25 strategies that belong to the five categories. For example: “I tell the supervisor directly that he/she must not treat me like that” (direct communication category) ; “I support the supervisor in matters that are important to him/her, so that he/she will see I am on his/her side” (ingratiation); “I try to have the least possible contact with the supervisor (avoidance of contact); “I relieve myself by talking to other people about the supervisor’s behavior” (support-seeking); and “I remind myself that there are more important matters in my life” (reframing).

The study found that abusive treatment from a superior was most strongly associated with avoiding contact – disengaging from the supervisor as much as possible and to seeking social support. Abusive supervision was least strongly associated with the strategy of direct communication. However, avoidance and seeking support resulted in the employees’ experiencing negative emotions, while communication with the supervisor – which employees do less – was the strategy most strongly related to employees’ positive emotions. “It is understandable that employees wish to reduce their contact with an abusive boss to a minimum,” says Dr. Yagil. “However, this strategy further increases the employee’s stress because it is associated with a sense of weakness and perpetuates their fear of the supervisor.”

The study shows that managers should be alert to signs of employee detachment – as it might indicate that their own behavior is being considered offensive by those employees.

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Stressed Men Are More Social

Posted by Sun on May 22, 2012

ScienceDaily (May 21, 2012) — Freiburg researchers have refuted the common belief that stress always causes aggressive behavior.

A team of researchers led by the psychologists and neuroscientists Prof. Markus Heinrichs and Dr. Bernadette von Dawans at the University of Freiburg, Germany, examined in a study how men react in stressful situations — and have refuted a nearly 100-year-old doctrine with their results. According to this doctrine, humans and most animal species show the “fight-or-flight” response to stress. Only since the late 1990s have some scientists begun to argue that women show an alternate “tend-and-befriend” response to stress — in other words, a protective (“tend”) and friendship-offering (“befriend”) reaction. Men, in contrast, were still assumed to become aggressive under stress. Von Dawans refuted this assumption, saying: “Apparently men also show social approach behavior as a direct consequence of stress.”

With this study, the research team experimentally investigated male social behavior under stress for the first time. The results are published in the  journal Psychological Science. The economists Prof. Ernst Fehr of the University of Zurich, Switzerland, and Prof. Urs Fischbacher of the University of Konstanz, Germany, as well as the psychologist Prof. Clemens Kirschbaum from the Technical University of Dresden, Germany, also participated in the study. Last year, Heinrichs and von Dawans already developed a standardized procedure for inducing stress in groups using a public speaking task. The researchers examined the implications of this stressor for social behavior using specially designed social interaction games.. These games allowed them to measure positive social behavior — for example, trust or sharing — and negative social behavior — for example, punishment.

In the study, subjects who were under stress showed significantly more positive social behavior than control subjects who were not in a stressful situation. Negative social behavior, on the other hand, was not affected by stress. For Markus Heinrichs, this has far-reaching consequences for our understanding of the social significance of stress: “From previous studies in our laboratory, we already knew that positive social contact with a trusted individual before a stressful situation reduces the stress response. Apparently, this coping strategy is anchored so strongly that people can also change their stress responses during or immediately after the stress through positive social behavior.”

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Stress management boosts immune system in breast cancer

Posted by Sun on April 29, 2012

A stress-management program for women with breast cancer can alter tumor-promoting processes at the molecular level, according to the team of researchers that designed the group-based Cognitive-Behavioral Stress Management (CBSM) intervention.

Developed at the University of Miami (UM) in Miami, Florida, CBSM combines relaxation, imagery, and deep breathing with cognitive behavior therapy. Cognitive behavior therapy helps participants change the way they address intrusive stressful thoughts, decreases their negative moods, and improves their interpersonal communication skills, according to a UM statement. Stress can affect the immune system in a way that impedes recovery from treatment for breast cancer.

Michael H. Antoni, PhD, director of UM’s Center for Psycho-Oncology Research, and colleagues developed the CBSM initiative to determine whether this intervention might counteract anxiety-related genetic alterations in people confronting a major medical threat. The participants included 199 women who were undergoing primary treatment of stage 0-III breast cancer. The women were randomized to the 10-week CBSM protocol or a control group.

As Antoni’s group reported in Biological Psychiatry (2012;71[4]:366-372), the CBSM intervention was able to reverse anxiety-related effects on proinflammatory gene expression in circulating leukocytes. In the CBSM women, the genes that signal the production of type I interferon and other molecules associated with a healthy immune response were upregulated, or producing more of these substances, compared with women in the control group. At the same time, proinflammatory and metastasis-related genes were downregulated in the CBSM group.

“If stress affects the immune system in a negative way, then … recovery could be slowed down and those patients taking longer to recover may be at risk for poorer health outcomes,” explained Antoni in the UM statement. “Conversely, if stress-management intervention can reduce the impact of stress on the immune system, then recovery may be hastened.”

Source: http://www.oncologynurseadvisor.com

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Job Loss and Unemployment Stress

Posted by Sun on March 12, 2012

It’s normal to feel hurt, vulnerable, or angry after losing a job. The good news is that despite the stress of job loss and unemployment, there are many things you can do to take control of the situation and maintain your spirits.

You can get through this tough time by taking care of yourself, reaching out to others, and focusing on your goals. Losing your job can also be an opportunity to take stock of your life, rethink your career goals, and rediscover what truly makes you happy.

Losing a job is stressful

Our jobs are much more than just the way we make a living. They influence how we see ourselves, as well as the way others see us. Our jobs give us structure, purpose, and meaning. That’s why job loss and unemployment is one of the most stressful things you can experience.

Beyond the loss of income, losing a job also comes with other major losses, some of which may be even more difficult to face:

  • Loss of your professional identity
  • Loss of self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Loss of your daily routine
  • Loss of purposeful activity
  • Loss of your work-based social network
  • Loss of your sense of security

Grief is normal after losing a job

Grief is normal after losing a jobGrief is a natural response to loss, and that includes the loss of a job. Losing your job takes forces you to make rapid changes. You may feel angry, hurt, panicked, rejected, and scared. What you need to know is that these emotions are normal. You have every right to be upset, so accept your feelings and go easy on yourself.

Also remember that many, if not most, successful people have experienced major failures in their careers. But they’ve turned those failures around by picking themselves up, learning from the experience, and trying again. When bad things happen to you— or going through unemployment—you can grow stronger and more resilient in the process of overcoming them.

Coping with job loss and unemployment stress tip 1: Face your feelings

Fear, depression, and anxiety will make it harder to get back on the job market, so it’s important to actively deal with your feelings and find healthy ways to grieve. Acknowledging your feelings and challenging your negative thoughts will help you deal with the loss and move on.

Surviving the emotional roller coaster of unemployment and job loss

  • Write about your feelings. Express everything you feel about being laid off or unemployed, including things you wish you had said (or hadn’t said) to your former boss. This is especially cathartic if your layoff or termination was handled in an insensitive way.
  • Accept reality. While it’s important to acknowledge how difficult job loss and unemployment can be, it’s equally important to avoid wallowing. Rather than dwelling on your job loss—how unfair it is; how poorly it was handled; things you could have done to prevent it; how much better life would be if it hadn’t happened—try to accept the situation. The sooner you do, the sooner you can get on with the next phase in your life.
  • Don’t beat yourself up. It’s easy to start criticizing or blaming yourself when you’ve lost your job and are unemployed. But it’s important to avoid putting yourself down. You’ll need your self-confidence intact as you’re looking for a new job. Challenge every negative thought that goes through your head. If you start to think, “I’m a loser,” write down evidence to the contrary (“I lost my job because of the recession, not because I was bad at my job.”).
  • Look for the silver lining. Losing a job is easier to accept if you can find the lesson in your loss. What can you learn from the experience? Maybe your job loss and unemployment has given you a chance to reflect on what you want out of life and rethink your career priorities. Maybe it’s made you stronger. If you look, you’re sure to find something of value.

Beware of Pitfalls

  • Taking refuge in your “cave” may provide temporary comfort, but is little help if your time spent there is not constructive. Surrounding yourself with positive, supportive family and friends may better help your self-esteem.
  • Venting your anger and frustrations may only make you feel worse if you find yourself in the middle of a “pity party.”  There are people who actually enjoy misery and the misfortune of others.
  • Drinking is at best a temporary relief, and for some people, can lead to a crippling addiction.


Coping with job loss and unemployment stress tip 2: Reach out

Don’t underestimate the importance of other people when you’re faced with job loss and unemployment. Be proactive. Let people know that you lost your job and are looking for work.

Taking action will help you feel more in control of your situation—and you never know what opportunities will arise. Plus, the outpouring of support you receive may pleasantly surprise you. Simple words of sympathy and encouragement can be a huge boost in this difficult time.

Turn to people you trust for support

Share what you’re going through with the people you love and trust. Ask for the support you need. Don’t try to shoulder the stress of job loss and unemployment alone. Your natural reaction may be to withdraw out of embarrassment and shame or to resist asking for help out of pride. But avoid the tendency to isolate! You will only feel worse.

Join or start a job club

Other job seekers can be invaluable sources of encouragement, support, and job leads. You can tap into this resource by joining or starting a job club. Being around other job seekers can be energizing and motivating, and help keep you on track during your job search.

Find a job club

To find a job club in your area, check out:

  • Your local public library
  • College and university career centers
  • Professional networking sites
  • The classifieds or career section of the newspaper

Stay connected through networking

The vast majority of job openings are never advertised; they’re filled by word of mouth. That’s why networking is the best way to find a job. Unfortunately, many job seekers are hesitant to take advantage of networking because they’re afraid of being seen as pushy, annoying, or self-serving. But networking isn’t about using other people or aggressively promoting yourself—it’s about building relationships. As you look for a new job, these relationships can provide much-needed feedback, advice, and support.

Coping with job loss and unemployment stress tip 3: Involve your family

Unemployment affects the whole family, so keep the lines of communication open. Tell your family what’s going on and involve them in major decisions. Keeping your job loss or your unemployement a secret will only make the situation worse. Working together as a family will help you survive and thrive, even in this difficult time.

  • Keep your family in the loop. Tell them about your job search plans, let them know how you’re spending your time, update them on promising developments, and let them know how they can support you while you’re unemployed.
  • Listen to their concerns. Your family members are worried about you, as well as their own stability and future. Give them a chance to talk about their concerns and offer suggestions regarding your job loss and unemployment.
  • Make time for family fun. Set aside regular family fun time where you can enjoy each others’ company, let off steam, and forget about your job loss and unemployment troubles. This will help the whole family stay positive.

Helping Children Cope with a Parent’s Unemployment

Children may be deeply affected by a parent’s unemployment. It is important for them to know what has happened and how it will affect the family. However, try not to overburden them with the responsibility of too many of the emotional or financial details.

  • Keep an open dialogue with your children. Letting them know what is really going on is vital. Children have a way of imagining the worst when they write their own “scripts,” so the facts can actually be far less devastating than what they envision.
  • Make sure your children know it’s not anybody’s fault. Children may not understand about job loss and immediately think that you did something wrong to cause it. Or, they may feel that somehow they are responsible or financially burdensome. They need reassurance in these matters, regardless of their age.
  • Children need to feel they are helping. They want to help and having them do something like taking a cut in allowance, deferring expensive purchases, or getting an after-school job can make them feel as if they are part of the team.


Coping with job loss and unemployment stress tip 4: Take care of yourself

The stress of job loss and unemployment can take a toll on your health. Now more than ever, it’s important to take care of yourself. That means looking after your emotional and physical needs and making stress management a priority.

Tips for managing unemployment stress:

  • Maintain balance in your life. Don’t let your job search consume you. Make time for fun, rest, and relaxation—whatever revitalizes you. Your job search will be more effective if you are mentally, emotionally, and physically at your best.
  • Make time for regular exercise. Exercise can be a great outlet for stress and worry while you’re unemployed and looking for work. It is also a powerful mood and energy booster. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week.
  • Get plenty of sleep. Sleep has a huge influence on your mood and productivity. Make sure you’re getting between 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. It will help you keep your stress levels under control and maintain your focus throughout your job search..
  • Practice relaxation techniques. Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga are a powerful antidote to stress. They also boost your feelings of serenity and joy and teach you how to stay calm and collected in challenging situations—including job loss and unemployment.

Staying positive during a long job search

Staying positive during a long job searchA long job search can wear on your attitude and outlook, especially if you’re unemployed. If it’s taking you longer than anticipated to find work, the following tips can help you stay focused and upbeat.

  • Keep a regular daily routine. When you no longer have a job to report to every day, you can easily lose motivation. Treat your job search like a regular job, with a daily “start” and “end” time. Following a set schedule will help you be more efficient and productive while you’re unemployed.
  • Create a job search plan. Avoid getting overwhelmed by breaking big goals into small, manageable steps. Instead of trying to do everything at once, set priorities. If you’re not having luck in your job search, take some time to rethink your goals.
  • List your positives. Make a list of all the things you like about yourself, including skills, personality traits, accomplishments, and successes. Write down projects you’re proud of, situations where you excelled, and things you’re good at. Revisit this list often to remind yourself of your strengths.
  • Volunteer. Unemployment and job loss can wear on your self-esteem and make you feel useless. Volunteering helps you maintain a sense of value and purpose. And helping others is an instantaneous mood booster. Volunteering can also provide career experience, social support, and networking opportunities.
  • Focus on the things you can control. You can’t control how quickly a potential employer calls you back or whether or not they decide to hire you. Rather than wasting your precious energy on things that are out of your hands, turn your attention to things you can control during your unemployment,, such as writing a great cover letter and resume tailored to the company you want to work for and setting up meetings with your networking contacts.

Source: http://helpguide.org

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Stress at Work

Posted by Sun on March 12, 2012

In this difficult economy, many of us are finding it harder than ever to cope with stress in the workplace. Regardless of occupation, seniority, or salary level, we’re spending more and more of our work days feeling frazzled and out of control, instead of alert and relaxed.

While some stress is a normal part of the workplace, excessive stress can interfere with your productivity and reduce your physical and emotional health. Finding ways to manage workplace stress is not about making huge changes to every aspect of your work life or rethinking career ambitions. Rather, stress management requires focus on the one thing that’s always within your control: you.

Coping with work stress in today’s uncertain climate

For workers everywhere, the troubled economy may feel like an emotional roller coaster. “Layoffs” and “budget cuts” have become bywords in the workplace, and the result is increased fear, uncertainty, and higher levels of stress. Since job and workplace stress increase in times of economic crisis, it’s important to learn new and better ways of coping with the pressure.

The ability to manage stress in the workplace can not only improve your physical and emotional health, it can also make the difference between success or failure on the job. Your emotions are contagious, and stress has an impact on the quality of your interactions with others. The better you are at managing your own stress, the more you’ll positively affect those around you, and the less other people’s stress will negatively affect you.

You can learn how to manage job stress

There are a variety of steps you can take to reduce both your overall stress levels and the stress you find on the job and in the workplace. These include:

  • Taking responsibility for improving your physical and emotional well-being.
  • Avoiding pitfalls by identifying knee jerk habits and negative attitudes that add to the stress you experience at work.
  • Learning better communication skills to ease and improve your relationships with management and coworkers.

Tip 1: Recognize warning signs of excessive stress at work

When you feel overwhelmed at work, you lose confidence and may become irritable or withdrawn. This can make you less productive and less effective in your job, and make the work seem less rewarding. If you ignore the warning signs of work stress, they can lead to bigger problems. Beyond interfering with job performance and satisfaction, chronic or intense stress can also lead to physical and emotional health problems.

Signs and symptoms of excessive job and workplace stress

  • Feeling anxious, irritable, or depressed
  • Apathy, loss of interest in work
  • Problems sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Muscle tension or headaches
  • Stomach problems
  • Social withdrawal
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Using alcohol or drugs to cope

Common causes of excessive workplace stress

  • Fear of being laid off
  • More overtime due to staff cutbacks
  • Pressure to perform to meet rising expectations but with no increase in job satisfaction
  • Pressure to work at optimum levels – all the time!

Tip 2: Reduce job stress by taking care of yourself

When stress at work interferes with your ability to perform in your job, manage your personal life, or adversely impacts your health, it’s time to take action. Start by paying attention to your physical and emotional health. When your own needs are taken care of, you’re stronger and more resilient to stress. The better you feel, the better equipped you’ll be to manage work stress without becoming overwhelmed.

Taking care of yourself doesn’t require a total lifestyle overhaul. Even small things can lift your mood, increase your energy, and make you feel like you’re back in the driver’s seat. Take things one step at a time, and as you make more positive lifestyle choices, you’ll soon notice a reduction in your stress levels, both at home and at work.

Get moving

Aerobic exercise—activity that raises your heart rate and makes you sweat—is a hugely effective way to lift your mood, increase energy, sharpen focus, and relax both the mind and body. For maximum stress relief, try to get at least 30 minutes of heart-pounding activity on most days. If it’s easier to fit into your schedule, break up the activity into two or three shorter segments.

Make food choices that keep you going

Low blood sugar can make you feel anxious and irritable, while eating too much can make you lethargic. By eating small but frequent meals throughout the day, you can help your body maintain an even level of blood sugar and avoid these swings in mood.

Drink alcohol in moderation and avoid nicotine

Alcohol temporarily reduces anxiety and worry, but too much can cause anxiety as it wears off. Drinking to relieve job stress may also eventually lead to alcohol abuse and dependence. Similarly, smoking when you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed may seem calming, but nicotine is a powerful stimulant – leading to higher, not lower, levels of anxiety.

Get enough sleep

Not only can stress and worry can cause insomnia, but a lack of sleep can leave you vulnerable to even more stress. When you’re well-rested, it’s much easier to keep your emotional balance, a key factor in coping with job and workplace stress.

Tip 3: Reduce job stress by prioritizing and organizing

When job and workplace stress threatens to overwhelm you, there are simple steps you can take to regain control over yourself and the situation. Your newfound ability to maintain a sense of self-control in stressful situations will often be well-received by coworkers, managers, and subordinates alike, which can lead to better relationships at work. Here are some suggestions for reducing job stress by prioritizing and organizing your responsibilities.

Time management tips for reducing job stress

  • Create a balanced schedule. Analyze your schedule, responsibilities, and daily tasks. All work and no play is a recipe for burnout. Try to find a balance between work and family life, social activities and solitary pursuits, daily responsibilities and downtime.
  • Don’t over-commit yourself. Avoid scheduling things back-to-back or trying to fit too much into one day. All too often, we underestimate how long things will take. If you’ve got too much on your plate, distinguish between the “shoulds” and the “musts.” Drop tasks that aren’t truly necessary to the bottom of the list or eliminate them entirely.
  • Try to leave earlier in the morning. Even 10-15 minutes can make the difference between frantically rushing to your desk and having time to ease into your day. Don’t add to your stress levels by running late.
  • Plan regular breaks. Make sure to take short breaks throughout the day to take a walk or sit back and clear your mind. Also try to get away from your desk or work station for lunch. Stepping away from work to briefly relax and recharge will help you be more, not less, productive.

Task management tips for reducing job stress

  • Prioritize tasks. Make a list of tasks you have to do, and tackle them in order of importance. Do the high-priority items first. If you have something particularly unpleasant to do, get it over with early. The rest of your day will be more pleasant as a result.
  • Break projects into small steps. If a large project seems overwhelming, make a step-by-step plan. Focus on one manageable step at a time, rather than taking on everything at once.
  • Delegate responsibility. You don’t have to do it all yourself. If other people can take care of the task, why not let them? Let go of the desire to control or oversee every little step. You’ll be letting go of unnecessary stress in the process.
  • Be willing to compromise. When you ask someone to contribute differently to a task, revise a deadline, or change their behavior at work, be willing to do the same. Sometimes, if you can both bend a little, you’ll be able to find a happy middle ground that reduces the stress levels for everyone concerned.

Tip 4: Reduce job stress by improving emotional intelligence

Even if you’re in a job where the environment has grown increasingly stressful, you can retain a large measure of self-control and self-confidence by understanding and practicing emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the ability to manage and use your emotions in positive and constructive ways. When it comes to satisfaction and success at work, emotional intelligence matters just as much as intellectual ability. Emotional intelligence is about communicating with others in ways that draw people to you, overcome differences, repair wounded feelings, and defuse tension and stress.

Emotional intelligence in the workplace:

Emotional intelligence in the workplace has four major components:

  • Self-awareness – The ability to recognize your emotions and their impact while using gut feelings to guide your decisions.
  • Self-management – The ability to control your emotions and behavior and adapt to changing circumstances.
  • Social awareness – The ability to sense, understand, and react to other’s emotions and feel comfortable socially.
  • Relationship management – The ability to inspire, influence, and connect to others and manage conflict.

The five key skills of emotional intelligence

There are five key skills that you need to master in order to raise your emotional intelligence and manage stress at work.

  • Realize when you’re stressed, recognize your particular stress response, and become familiar with sensual cues that can rapidly calm and energize you. The best way to reduce stress quickly is through the senses: through sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. But each person responds differently to sensory input, so you need to find things that are soothing to you.
  • Stay connected to your internal emotional experience so you can appropriately manage your own emotions. Your moment-to-moment emotions influence your thoughts and actions, so pay attention to your feelings and factor them into your decision making at work. If you ignore your emotions you won’t be able to fully understand your own motivations and needs, or to communicate effectively with others.
  • Recognize and effectively use the nonverbal cues that make up 95-98% of our communication process. In many cases, what we say is less important than how we say it or the other nonverbal signals we send out, such as eye contact, facial expression, tone of voice, posture, gesture and touch. Your nonverbal messages can either produce a sense of interest, trust, and desire for connection–or they can generate confusion, distrust, and stress. You also need to be able to accurately read and respond to the nonverbal cues that other people send you at work.
  • Develop the capacity to meet challenges with humor. There is no better stress buster than a hearty laugh and nothing reduces stress quicker in the workplace than mutually shared humor. But, if the laugh is at someone else’s expense, you may end up with more rather than less stress.
  • Resolve conflict positively. Resolving conflict in healthy, constructive ways can strengthen trust between people and diffuse workplace stress and tension. When handling emotionally-charged situations, stay focused in the present by disregarding old hurts and resentments, connect with your emotions, and hear both the words and the nonverbal cues being used. If a conflict can’t be resolved, choose to end the argument, even if you still disagree.

Tip 5: Reduce job stress by breaking bad habits

As you learn to manage your job stress and improve your work relationships, you’ll have more control over your ability to think clearly and act appropriately. You will be able to break habits that add to your stress at work – and you’ll even be able to change negative ways of thinking about things that only add to your stress.

Eliminate self-defeating behaviors

Many of us make job stress worse with negative thoughts and behavior. If you can turn around these self-defeating habits, you’ll find employer-imposed stress easier to handle.

  • Resist perfectionism. No project, situation, or decision is ever perfect, so trying to attain perfection on everything will simply add unnecessary stress to your day. When you set unrealistic goals for yourself or try to do too much, you’re setting yourself up to fall short. Aim to do your best, no one can ask for more than that.
  • Clean up your act. If you’re always running late, set your clocks and watches fast and give yourself extra time. If your desk is a mess, file and throw away the clutter; just knowing where everything is saves time and cuts stress. Make to-do lists and cross off items as you accomplish them. Plan your day and stick to the schedule — you’ll feel less overwhelmed.
  • Flip your negative thinking. If you see the downside of every situation and interaction, you’ll find yourself drained of energy and motivation. Try to think positively about your work, avoid negative-thinking co-workers, and pat yourself on the back about small accomplishments, even if no one else does.
  • Don’t try to control the uncontrollable. Many things at work are beyond our control— particularly the behavior of other people. Rather than stressing out over them, focus on the things you can control such as the way you choose to react to problems.

Five Ways to Dispel Stress

  • Take time away. When stress is mounting at work, try to take a quick break and move away from the stressful situation. Take a stroll outside the workplace if possible, or spend a few minutes meditating in the break room. Physical movement or finding a quiet place to regain your balance can quickly reduce stress.
  • Talk it over with someone. In some situations, simply sharing your thoughts and feelings with someone you trust can help reduce stress. Talking over a problem with someone who is both supportive and empathetic can be a great way to let off steam and relieve stress.
  • Connect with others at work. Developing friendships with some of your co-workers can help buffer you from the negative effects of stress. Remember to listen to them and offer support when they are in need as well.
  • Look for humor in the situation. When used appropriately, humor is a great way to diffuse stress in the workplace. When you or those around you start taking things too seriously, find a way to lighten the mood by sharing a joke or funny story.

Tip 6: Learn how managers or employers can reduce job stress

It’s in a manager’s best interest to keep stress levels in the workplace to a minimum. Managers can act as positive role models, especially in times of high stress, by following the tips outlined in this article. If a respected manager can remain calm in stressful work situations, it is much easier for his or her employees to also remain calm.

Additionally, there are a number of organizational changes that managers and employers can make to reduce workplace stress. These include:

Improve communication

  • Share information with employees to reduce uncertainty about their jobs and futures.
  • Clearly define employees’ roles and responsibilities.
  • Make communication friendly and efficient, not mean-spirited or petty.

Consult your employees

  • Give workers opportunities to participate in decisions that affect their jobs.
  • Consult employees about scheduling and work rules.
  • Be sure the workload is suitable to employees’ abilities and resources; avoid unrealistic deadlines.
  • Show that individual workers are valued.
  • Offer rewards and incentives.
  • Praise good work performance, both verbally and officially, through schemes such as Employee of the Month.
  • Provide opportunities for career development.
  • Promote an “entrepreneurial” work climate that gives employees more control over their work.

Cultivate a friendly social climate

  • Provide opportunities for social interaction among employees.
  • Establish a zero-tolerance policy for harassment.
  • Make management actions consistent with organizational values.

Source: http://helpguide.org

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Time Management

Posted by Sun on March 12, 2012

I’m guessing you are here because you want to make the most of your time. You recognize that time is a unique and precious resource that you need in order to do your work, accomplish your goals, spend time with your loved ones, and enjoy everything that life has to offer.

Perhaps you have a heavy workload and want to find ways to become more effective so you can get more done in less time.

Maybe you feel overwhelmed or “stressed out” and want to find ways to do less and enjoy more. Or maybe you simply want to feel more focused and in control of your time, instead of feeling like you rush madly from one activity to the next until you fall into bed exhausted every night.

Benjamin Franklin said, “Do you love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff that life is made of.”

Whatever your reasons, you came to the right place. Here you’ll find tons of resources, ideas and suggestions to help you improve your time management skills, increase your productivity and make much better use of your time.

What Exactly Is Time Management?

Time management is a set of principles, practices, skills, tools, and systems working together to help you get more value out of your time with the aim of improving the quality of your life.

The important point is that time management is not necessarily about getting lots of stuff done, because much more important than that is making sure that you are working on the right things, the things that truly need to be done.

Smart time managers know that there is much more to do than anyone could possibly accomplish. So instead of trying to do it all, smart time managers are very picky about how they spend their time.

They choose to focus and spend their time doing a few vital projects that will really make a difference, rather than spending all their time doing many trivial things that don’t really matter all that much.

If you become a good time manager, you’ll not only get a lot more done in less time, but you’ll feel more relaxed, focused and in control of your life.

You’ll be able to use your time in a much more balanced and effective way, and you’ll be able to make time for the people and activities that you love. When you get to the end of a busy day, you’ll feel a strong sense of accomplishment from everything that you actually got done.

Improving your time management skills can even help you get better results by doing less work, because you’re focusing on the things that really matter rather than all the low-priority busywork that just keeps you busy.

If you don’t learn how to manage your time well, you’ll be far less productive than you could be and you’ll get a lot less done. You’ll also feel much more stressed and overwhelmed, and you’ll struggle to find time to spend with the people you care about and to do the things you enjoy.

To start, I recommend that you signup for my newsletter and read look at some of the free reports including the 7 Secrets of Very Productive Peopleand the Top Ten Time Management Mistakes. It’s fast, easy and free.

To signup for the time management tips newsletter and get valuable ideas, tips and strategies delivered straight to your Inbox, just enter your email address below, then click the “Free Newsletter Signup” button.

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Learning Time Management Skills

In the end, time management comes down to choices. Good choices lead to better results, while poor choices lead to wasted time and energy.

The good news is that time management can be learned and mastered by anyone. All it takes is practice and dedication.

Like any other skill, you can learn time management the easy way or you can learn it the hard way.

The hard way usually involves years of trial and error and lots of false starts trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

If you’d like to save yourself some time, money and effort, I recommend you try the easy way: learn from someone who has already done it.

Makes sense, right?

15 Best Time Management Tips

In the meantime, here are 15 practical time management tips to help you get started…

1. Write things down

A common time management mistake is to try to use your memory to keep track of too many details leading to information overload. Using a to-do list to write things down is a great way to take control of your projects and tasks and keep yourself organized.

2. Prioritize your list

Prioritizing your to-do list helps you focus and spend more of your time on the things that really matter to you. Rate your tasks into categories using the ABCD prioritization system described in the time management course.

3. Plan your week

Spend some time at the beginning of each week to plan your schedule. Taking the extra time to do this will help increase your productivity and balance your important long-term projects with your more urgent tasks. All you need is fifteen to thirty minutes each week for your planning session.

4. Carry a notebook

You never know when you are going to have a great idea or brilliant insight. Carry a small notebook with you wherever you go so you can capture your thoughts. If you wait too long to write them down you could forget. Another option is to use a digital recorder.

5. Learn to say no

Many people become overloaded with too much work because they overcommit; they say yes when they really should be saying no. Learn to say no to low priority requests and you will free up time to spend on things that are more important.

6. Think before acting

How many times have you said yes to something you later regretted? Before committing to a new task, stop to think about it before you give your answer. This will prevent you from taking on too much work.

7. Continuously improve yourself

Make time in your schedule to learn new things and develop your natural talents and abilities. For example, you could take a class, attend a training program, or read a book. Continuously improving your knowledge and skills increases your marketability, can help boost your career, and is the most reliable path to financial independence.

8. Think about what you are giving up to do your regular activities

It is a good idea to evaluate regularly how you are spending your time. In some cases, the best thing you can do is to stop doing an activity that is no longer serving you so you can spend the time doing something more valuable. Consider what you are giving up in order to maintain your current activities.

9. Use a time management system

Using a time management system can help you keep track of everything that you need to do, organize and prioritize your work, and develop sound plans to complete it. An integrated system is like glue that holds all the best time management practices together.

10. Identify bad habits

Make a list of bad habits that are stealing your time, sabotaging your goals, and blocking your success. After you do, work on them one at a time and systematically eliminate them from your life. Remember that the easiest way to eliminate a bad habit, it to replace it with a better habit.

11. Don’t do other people’s work

Are you in the habit of doing other people’s work because or a ‘hero’ mentality? Doing this takes up time that you may not have. Instead, focus on your own projects and goals, learn to delegate effectively, and teach others how to do their own work.

12. Keep a goal journal

Schedule time to set and evaluate your goals. Start a journal and write down your progress for each goal. Go through your goal journal each week to make sure you are on the right track.

Keeping a journal on your computer has never been easier!

13. Don’t be a perfectionist

Some tasks don’t require your best effort. Sending a short email to a colleague, for example, shouldn’t take any more than a few minutes. Learn to distinguish between tasks that deserve to be done excellently and tasks that just need to be done.

14. Beware of “filler” tasks

When you have a to-do list filled with important tasks, be careful not to get distracted by “filler” tasks. Things such as organizing your bookcase or filing papers can wait until you tackle the items that have the highest priority.

15. Avoid “efficiency traps”

Being efficient doesn’t necessarily mean that you are being productive. Avoid taking on tasks that you can do with efficiency that don’t need to be done at all. Just because you are busy and getting things done doesn’t mean you are actually accomplishing anything significant.

Source: http://www.timethoughts.com

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Personal Time Management for Busy Managers

Posted by Sun on March 12, 2012

by Gerard M Blair

Time passes, quickly. This article looks at the basics of Personal Time Management and describes how the Manager can assume control of this basic resource.

The “Eff” words

The three “Eff” words are [concise OED]:

  • Effective – having a definite or desired effect
  • Efficient – productive with minimum waste or effort
  • Effortless –

seemingly without effort; natural, easy

Personal Time Management is about winning the “Eff” words: making them apply to you and your daily routines.

What is Personal Time Management?

Personal Time Management is about controlling the use of your most valuable (and undervalued) resource. Consider these two questions: what would happen if you spent company money with as few safeguards as you spend company time, when was the last time you scheduled a review of your time allocation?

The absence of Personal Time Management is characterized by last minute rushes to meet dead-lines, meetings which are either double booked or achieve nothing, days which seem somehow to slip unproductively by, crises which loom unexpected from nowhere. This sort of environment leads to inordinate stress and degradation of performance: it must be stopped.

Poor time management is often a symptom of over confidence: techniques which used to work with small projects and workloads are simply reused with large ones. But inefficiencies which were insignificant in the small role are ludicrous in the large. You can not drive a motor bike like a bicycle, nor can you manage a supermarket-chain like a market stall. The demands, the problems and the payoffs for increased efficiency are all larger as your responsibility grows; you must learn to apply proper techniques or be bettered by those who do. Possibly, the reason Time Management is poorly practised is that it so seldom forms a measured part of appraisal and performance review; what many fail to foresee, however, is how intimately it is connected to aspects which do.

Personal Time Management has many facets. Most managers recognize a few, but few recognize them all. There is the simple concept of keeping a well ordered diary and the related idea of planned activity. But beyond these, it is a tool for the systematic ordering of your influence on events, it underpins many other managerial skills such as Effective Delegation and Project Planning.

Personal Time Management is a set of tools which allow you to:

  • eliminate wastage
  • be prepared for meetings
  • refuse excessive workloads
  • monitor project progress
  • allocate resource (time) appropriate to a task’s importance
  • ensure that long term projects are not neglected
  • plan each day efficiently
  • plan each week effectivelyand to do so simply with a little self-discipline.Since Personal Time Management is a management process just like any other, it must be planned, monitored and regularly reviewed. In the following sections, we will examine the basic methods and functions of Personal Time Management. Since true understanding depends upons experience, you will be asked to take part by looking at aspects of your own work. If you do not have time to this right now – ask yourself: why not?

    Current Practice

    What this article is advocating is the adoption of certain practices which will give you greater control over the use and allocation of your primary resource: time. Before we start on the future, it is worth considering the present. This involves the simplistic task of keeping a note of how you spend your time for a suitably long period of time (say a week). I say simplistic since all you have to do is create a simple table, photocopy half-a-dozen copies and carry it around with you filling in a row every time you change activity. After one week, allocate time (start as you mean to go on) to reviewing this log.

    Waste Disposal

    We are not looking here to create new categories of work to enhance efficiency (that comes later) but simply to eliminate wastage in your current practice. The average IEE Chartered Engineer earns about 27,000 pounds per annum: about 12.50 pounds per hour, say 1 pound every 5 minutes; for how many 5 minute sections of your activity would you have paid a pound? The first step is a critical appraisal of how you spend your time and to question some of your habits. In your time log, identify periods of time which might have been better used.

    There are various sources of waste. The most common are social: telephone calls, friends dropping by, conversations around the coffee machine. It would be foolish to eliminate all non-work related activity (we all need a break) but if it’s a choice between chatting to Harry in the afternoon and meeting the next pay-related deadline … Your time log will show you if this is a problem and you might like to do something about it before your boss does.

    In your time log, look at each work activity and decide objectively how much time each was worth to you, and compare that with the time you actually spent on it. An afternoon spent polishing an internal memo into a Pulitzer prize winning piece of provocative prose is waste; an hour spent debating the leaving present of a colleague is waste; a minute spent sorting out the paper-clips is waste (unless relaxation). This type of activity will be reduced naturally by managing your own time since you will not allocate time to the trivial. Specifically, if you have a task to do, decide before hand how long it should take and work to that deadline – then move on to the next task.

    Another common source of waste stems from delaying work which is unpleasant by finding distractions which are less important or unproductive. Check your log to see if any tasks are being delayed simply because they are dull or difficult.

    Time is often wasted in changing between activities. For this reason it is useful to group similar tasks together thus avoiding the start-up delay of each. The time log will show you where these savings can be made. You may want then to initiate a routine which deals with these on a fixed but regular basis.

    Doing Subordinate’s Work

    Having considered what is complete waste, we now turn to what is merely inappropriate. Often it is simpler to do the job yourself. Using the stamp machine to frank your own letters ensures they leave by the next post; writing the missing summary in the latest progress report from your junior is more pleasant than sending it back (and it lets you choose the emphasis). Rubbish!

    Large gains can be made by assigning secretarial duties to secretaries: they regularly catch the next post, they type a lot faster than you. Your subordinate should be told about the missing section and told how (and why) to slant it. If you have a task which could be done by a subordinate, use the next occasion to start training him/her to do it instead of doing it yourself – you will need to spend some time monitoring the task thereafter, but far less that in doing it yourself.

    Doing the work of Others

    A major impact upon your work can be the tendency to help others with their’s. Now, in the spirit of an open and harmonious work environment it is obviously desirable that you should be willing to help out – but check your work log and decide how much time you spend on your own work and how much you spend on others’. For instance, if you spend a morning checking the grammar and spelling in the training material related to you last project, then that is waste. Publications should do the proof-reading, that is their job, they are better at it than you; you should deal at the technical level.

    The remaining problem is your manager. Consider what periods in your work log were used to perform tasks that your manager either repeated or simply negated by ignoring it or redefining the task, too late. Making your manager efficient is a very difficult task, but where it impinges upon your work and performance you must take the bull by the horns (or whatever) and confront the issue.

    Managing your manager may seem a long way from Time Management but no one impacts upon your use of time more than your immediate superior. If a task is ill defined – seek clarification (is that a one page summary or a ten page report?). If seemingly random alterations are asked in your deliverables, ask for the reasons and next time clarify these and similar points at the beginning. If the manager is difficult, try writing a small specification for each task before beginning it and have it agreed. While you can not tactfully hold your manager to this contract if he/she has a change of mind, it will at least cause him/her to consider the issues early on, before you waste your time on false assumptions.

    External Appointments

    The next stage of Personal Time Management is to start taking control of your time. The first problem is appointments. Start with a simple appointments diary. In this book you will have (or at least should have) a complete list of all your known appointments for the forseeable future. If you have omitted your regular ones (since you remember them anyway) add them now.

    Your appointments constitute your interaction with other people; they are the agreed interface between your activities and those of others; they are determined by external obligation. They often fill the diary. Now, be ruthless and eliminate the unnecessary. There may be committees where you can not productively contribute or where a subordinate might be (better) able to participate. There may be long lunches which could be better run as short conference calls. There may be interviews which last three times as long as necessary because they are scheduled for a whole hour. Eliminate the wastage starting today.

    The next stage is to add to your diary lists of other, personal activity which will enhance your use of the available time. Consider: what is the most important type of activity to add to your diary? No:- stop reading for a moment and really, consider.

    The single most important type of activity is those which will save you time: allocate time to save time, a stitch in time saves days. And most importantly of all, always allocate time to time management: at least five minutes each and every day.

    For each appointment left in the diary, consider what actions you might take to ensure that no time is wasted: plan to avoid work by being prepared. Thus, if you are going to a meeting where you will be asked to comment on some report, allocate time to read it so avoiding delays in the meeting and increasing your chances of making the right decision the first time. Consider what actions need to be done before AND what actions must be done to follow-up. Even if the latter is unclear before the event, you must still allocate time to review the outcome and to plan the resulting action. Simply mark in your diary the block of time necessary to do this and, when the time comes, do it.

    Scheduling Projects

    The most daunting external appointments are deadlines: often, the handover of deliverables. Do you leave the work too late? Is there commonly a final panic towards the end? Are the last few hectic hours often marred by errors? If so, use Personal Time Management.

    The basic idea is that your management of personal deadlines should be achieved with exactly the same techniques you would use in a large project:

  • check the specification – are you sure that you agree on what is to be delivered
  • break the task down into small sections so that you can estimate the time needed for each, and monitor progress
  • schedule reviews of your progress (e.g. after each sub-task) so that you can respond quickly to difficultiesLike most management ideas, this is common sense. Some people, however, refute it because in practise they find that it merely shows the lack of time for a project which must be done anyway. This is simply daft! If simple project planning and time management show that the task can not be done, then it will not be done – but by knowing at the start, you have a chance to do something about it.An impossible deadline affects not only your success but also that of others. Suppose a product is scheduled for release too soon because you agree to deliver too early. Marketing and Sales will prepare customers to expect the product showing why they really need it – but it will not arrive. The customers will be dissatisfied or even lost, the competition will have advanced warning, and all because you agreed to do the impossible.You can avoid this type of problem. By practising time management, you will always have a clear understanding of how you spend your time and what time is unallocated. If a new task is thrust upon you, you can estimate whether it is practical. The project planning tells you how much time is needed and the time management tells you how much time is available.There are four ways to deal with impossible deadlines:
  • Get the deadline extended
  • Scream for more resources
  • Get the Deliverable redefined to something practical
  • State the position clearly so that your boss (and his/her boss) have fair warningIf this simple approach seems unrealistic, consider the alternative. If you have an imposed, but unobtainable, deadline and you accept it; then the outcome is your assured failure. Of course, there is a fifth option: move to a company with realistic schedules.One defence tactic is to present your superior with a current list of your obligations indicating what impact the new task will have on these, and ask him/her to assign the priorities: “I can’t do them all, which should I slip?”. Another tactic is to keep a data base of your time estimates and the actual time taken by each task. This will quickly develop into a source of valuable data and increase the accuracy of your planning predictions.There is no reason why you should respond only to externally imposed deadlines. The slightly shoddy product which you hand-over after the last minute rush (and normally have returned for correction the following week) could easily have been polished if only an extra day had been available – so move your personal deadline forward and allow yourself the luxury of leisured review before the product is shipped.Taking this a step further, the same sort of review might be applied to the product at each stage of its development so that errors and rework time are reduced. Thus by allocating time to quality review, you save time in rework; and this is all part of project planning supported and monitored by your time management.

    Finally, for each activity you should estimate how much time it is worth and allocate only that amount. This critical appraisal may even suggest a different approach or method so that the time matches the task’s importance. Beware of perfection, it takes too long – allocate time for “fitness for purpose”, then stop.

    Monitoring Staff

    Your Personal Time Management also effects other people, particularly your subordinates. Planning projects means not only allocating your time but also the distribution of tasks; and this should be done in the same planned, monitored and reviewed manner as your own scheduling.

    Any delegated task should be specified with an (agreed) end date. As a Manager, you are responsible for ensuring that the tasks allocated to your subordinates are completed successfully. Thus you should ensure that each task is concluded with a deliverable (for instance, a memo to confirm completion) – you make an entry in your diary to check that this has arrived. Thus, if you agree the task for Tuesday, Wednesday should have an entry in your diary to check the deliverable. This simple device allows you to monitor progress and to initiate action as necessary.

    Long term Objectives

    There are many long term objectives which the good Manager must achieve, particularly with regard to the development, support and motivation of his/her work-team. Long term objectives have the problem of being important but not urgent; they do not have deadlines, they are distant and remote. For this reason, it is all too easy to ignore them in favour of the urgent and immediate. Clearly a balance must be struck.

    The beauty of Time Management is that the balance can be decided objectively (without influence from immediate deadlines) and self-imposed through the use of the diary. Simply, a manager might decide that one hour a week should be devoted to personnel issues and would then allocate a regular block of time to that activity. Of course if the factory is on fire, or World War III is declared, the manager may have to re-allocate this time in a particular week – but barring such crises, this time should then become sacrosanct and always applied to the same, designated purpose.

    Similarly, time may be allocated to staff development and training. So if one afternoon a month is deemed to be a suitable allocation, then simply designate the second Thursday (say) of each month and delegate the choice of speakers. The actual time spent in managing this sort of long term objective is small, but without that deliberate planning it will not be achieved.

    Once you have implemented Personal Time Management, it is worth using some of that control to augment your own career. Some quiet weekend, you should sketch out your own long term objectives and plan a route to them. As you would any long term objective, allocate time to the necessary sub-tasks and monitor your progress. If you do not plan where you want to go, you are unlikely to get there.

    Concluding Remarks.

    Personal Time Management is a systematic application of common sense strategies. It requires little effort, yet it promotes efficient work practices by highlighting wastage and it leads to effective use of time by focusing it on your chosen activities. Personal Time Management does not solve your problems; it reveals them, and provides a structure to implement and monitor solutions. It enables you to take control of your own time – how you use it is then up to you.

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A Simple Time Management Plan

Posted by Sun on March 12, 2012

Effective time management is crucial to accomplishing organization tasks as well as to avoiding wasting valuable organizational assets. The following nine rules  will aid you:

Get Started – This is one of the all time classic time wasters. Often, as much time is wasted avoiding a project, as actually accomplishing the project. A survey showed that the main difference between good students and average students was the ability to start their homework quickly.

Get into a routine – Mindless routines may curb your creativity, but when used properly, they can release time and energy. Choose a time to get certain task accomplished, such as answering email, working on a project, completing paper work; and then sticking to it every day. Use a day planning calendar. There are a variety of formats on the market. Find one that fits your needs.

Do not say yes to too many things – Saying yes can lead to unexpected treasures, but the mistake we often make is to say yes to too many things. This causes us to live to the priorities of others, rather than according to our own. Every time you agree to do something else, something else will not get done. Learn how to say no.

Do not commit yourself to unimportant activities, no matter how far ahead they are – Even if a commitment is a year ahead, it is still a commitment. Often we agree to do something that is far ahead, when we would not normally do it if it was in the near future. No matter how far ahead it is, it will still take the same amount of your time.

Divide large tasks – Large tasks should be broken up into a series of small tasks. By creating small manageable tasks, the entire task will eventually be accomplished. Also, by using a piecemeal approach, you will be able to fit it into your hectic schedule.

Do not put unneeded effort into a project – There is a place for perfectionism, but for most activities, there comes a stage when there is not much to be gained from putting extra effort into it. Save perfectionism for the tasks that need it.

Deal with it for once and for all – We often start a task, think about it, and then lay it aside. This gets repeated over and over. Either deal with the task right away or decide when to deal with it.

Set start and stop times – When arranging start times, also arrange stop times. This will call for some estimating, but your estimates will improve with practice. This will allow you and others to better schedule activities. Also, challenge the theory, “Work expands to fill the allotted time.” See if you can shave some time off your deadlines to make it more efficient.

Plan your activities – Schedule a regular time to plan your activities. If time management is important to you, then allow the time to plan it wisely.

Source: http://www.nwlink.com

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