In the business world, there's a certain cache attached to being able to soak up all that stress.
But people can’t keep putting themselves under a lot of pressure for a long time without consequences. Eventually something’s going to give.
A feeling of a lack of control has long been known as a major stress catalyst for employees. But being in charge doesn’t mean being immune from stress. A recent Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index shows that business owners experience greater levels of anxiety than those who work for them, with 34 percent of entrepreneurs reporting they were worried (4 percent more than employed workers). Forty-five percent of entrepreneurs said they were stressed, compared with 42 percent of employees.
Some entrepreneurs might have found ways to keep stress under their control: Being able to stay calm and in control at times of stress is a characteristic of 9 out of 10 top performers, according to a survey by TalentSmart, a provider of emotional-intelligence products and services.
For others who don't want to experience the damaging physical, emotional and mental effects of stress, here's some tips for how to better manage stress:
1. Think about the situation.
Analyze the reason for feeling stressed. Once the main causes are identified, it's possible to begin to take action. For entrepreneurs and business owners, it can come down to three things: time, money and relationships. But along with identifying the stress inducers, take time to think about what to be grateful for. Research by Robert Emmons at the University of California has found positive results on the health and accomplishment fronts from cultivating thankfulness.
2. Reduce complexity.
Keep asking, "Is there a simpler way to achieve the same result with less time and effort and by using fewer resources? How do others do it? And what can I learn from them?" After continually hitting brick walls, recognize that there must be a better way.
3. Do less stuff and more of what matters.
Accept that there are only 24 hours in the day, which means it's impossible to do everything desired all at once. Not everything is equally important, so start prioritizing what matters most. Say no to requests that seem to suit only other people's agenda. And reduce the number of things that must be done.
4. Be smart and build a star team from the start.
In today’s complex business environment, entrepreneurs are unlikely to personally possess all the skills or expertise required for success. So build a team, for example, to provide the IT support or marketing skills lacked by the company. Investing in a team will take time and money but will be worthwhile for creating a thriving business.
Healthy relationships are crucial to success, both personally and professionally. So if a team member causes considerable stress and trouble, it’s probably time to reconsider that relationship. Just remember the saying "Hire slow and fire fast." The same goes for clients who bring more trouble than the value provided. Any relationship can generate energy or drain it. So be choosy about those the company is associated with.
5. Overestimate the amount of time it takes to do things well.
Things often seem to take longer than anticipated, so allowing 20 percent extra time for contingencies is a good guideline. Ideally, a business owner should identify every component of a project, both what's directly under his or her direct control and what's not, before it starts. Only after spelling out what needs to be done and by whom, in sequence, is it possible to properly plan time allotments.
6. Don’t keep reinventing the wheel. Systematize.
Most parts of a business can be streamlined by creating a system so create a checklist or template for doing things again. This will make it easier to hand over the task to someone else cost effectively. Start looking in detail at the processes used, keep recording them and constantly look for ways to improve them, so that resources can be stretched further. If this is sensitively done, the process won't strip the heart and soul from the business but will leave it more efficient and balanced instead.
7. Delegate properly.
Success can’t be achieved without the implementation of plans, with appropriate delegation. One way to achieve more leverage is to use the Rule of 3, prioritizing things that can result in multiply plays. For instance, first write a blog post, then turn it into a podcast and then a video. Getting more from less can be a great stress reducer and an accelerator to success.
8. Learn from mistakes.
Ongoing learning is vital in all areas of life to avoid stagnation. So always be humble enough to learn from mistakes: This process can point to future ways of doing things to create better results and a more enjoyable experience all round. If mistakes do crop up, try to understand why. Then anticipate potential future scenarios, running through them in the mind. This is good preparation for the firefight when the unexpected comes along.
Related: Why Are You Working So Hard?