The Web Worker’s Stress Busting Toolbox: 50 Tips to Improve Your Life

Many Web employees work from the comfort of their own home and don’t even have to get out of their comfy PJs to go to work if they don’t feel like it. But that doesn’t mean working on the Web isn’t stressful from time to time. Online projects pile up and deadlines loom just like they do for those working in an office. They’ve also got the added stress of sometimes unreliable Web hosting and no IT department to fix a troublesome PC. So how can you beat the stress of day-to-day Web work? The following are 50 ways you can become happier and healthier by reducing the stress in your life.

  1. Get organized. Nothing will stress you out faster than having to sort through mounds of paperwork or hundreds of emails to find important documents and files. The few hours you spend getting things in order will protect you from those gray hairs when you can’t find key information.
  2. Respect your internal rhythms. Everyone has high and low productivity points of the day. If you force yourself to work through your worst parts of the day you may become frustrated when you’re not moving as fast as you’d like to be. Try to save your hardest and most demanding work for your highest productivity points of the day so you can breeze through it.
  3. Don’t worry about the what-ifs. Like anything in life, with work there are tons of things that can go wrong at any point. You’ll only make yourself crazy imagining all the possible outcomes. Simply do your best, and deal with the eventualities when they arrive.
  4. Invest in your health. A half hour of exercise a day may not seem like much, but it could be enough to prevent you from having some serious health problems. Not only that, but exercise is also a great stress reliever. So when you’re feeling bogged down, take a trip to the gym and work out that stress.
  5. Take breaks. It may seem counterintuitive, but taking regular breaks can actually help you get more work done. By giving your mind, body and eyes a rest from sitting at the computer you’ll be refreshed and ready to come back when you return and can look at things with fresh eyes.
  6. Eat right. The only saying is true, we really are what we eat. Cramming frozen pizza and chips into your mouth might be the quickest way to accomplish eating a meal, but you’ll get much more out of eating a balanced diet and have more energy and focus to concentrate on what you’ve got to get done. Try out whole grains, blueberries and even chocolate for some great stress busting.
  7. Rest your eyes.Staring at a computer screen all day can take quite a toll on your eyes day after day. Make sure to give your eyes a break every now and again so they won’t get as stressed out as the rest of you.
  8. Schedule your time. Keep your stress in check by planning out your day in advance. Schedule time for projects, breaks, household chores and anything else that might come up throughout the day so that you’ll never have to wonder what you need to tend to next.
  9. Minimize interruptions. Constantly being interrupted by a ringing phone or IMs can destroy your concentration not to mention ride your last nerve making the stress of your impending deadline even worse. Turn off your instant messenger and unplug your phone for a few hours a day so you can get some real work done.
  10. Stay positive. With so much to do it can be hard to maintain a positive outlook on getting everything done. Do you best to keep your chin up and a smile on your face. Even in your worst moments, take a break to find something funny or give yourself a treat so you won’t be tempted to wallow.
  11. Simplify. Often there are things we feel like we must get done that in reality aren’t that important. Evaluate your tasks and see if there aren’t a few less important ones that you can eliminate from your task list.
  12. Take time to disconnect. The Internet can be a tempting and demanding mistress. Make sure you’re not letting it rule your life, even if it is your job. Don’t spend your break time on the Internet or too much of your off-time.
  13. Make lists. Don’t let important tasks slip your mind. Create small lists of different types of tasks that you need to get done or jot ideas down as you think of them so you won’t forget about them later. Try an online list maker like Ta-Da List.
  14. Stop and think. Sometimes work, whether it’s online or in an office, can be so overwhelming that we forget to stop and think and even take a breath. Take a step back from your work to reevaluate what’s really important and whether or not it’s worth being so stressed over.
  15. Say no. While it can be difficult to turn down great projects or fun side work, there comes a time when you really just have to say no to maintain your sanity. If you’ve already got too much on your plate, don’t try to take on anything more, even if others try to guilt you into it.
  16. Take it one step at a time. When you look at the amount of work that you have to do it can seem to be incredibly overwhelming. Breaking it up into smaller chunks and taking it one part at a time can help it seem like less of an obstacle and more like something that you can actually do.
  17. Delegate. For some Web workers, delegating isn’t really an option. But if you do have others you’re working with, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you really need it. You can also ask family and friends to help pick up the slack around the house as well, until you get through your next big project.
  18. Renegotiate. If you find yourself feeling stressed out more often than not then perhaps it’s time to renegotiate your priorities. Owning your own Internet based business or working for one can be time consuming, but make sure that that is how your time is best being spent.
  19. Spend time with family and pets. One easy way to reduce stress is to spend some time with the people and animals that matter most to you. Watch a movie with a friend, take a walk with your dog, or just spend some time with a loved one. A little time connecting goes a long way in reducing stress, and will get your butt off of the Internet.
  20. Reward yourself. If you’ve just completed a project ahead of schedule or gotten some great feedback from clients make sure to reward yourself. After all, all that hard work shouldn’t be for nothing and if nothing else taking a little break for some ice cream or to play a new video game will help you to relax.
  21. Incorporate home tasks. Managing to take care of both work and home tasks can be difficult when they are one in the same. Work often takes over and household chores can pile up, surrounding you with clutter which can be visually distracting and stressful. Make sure to leave yourself a few minutes each day to work in some of these tasks so that they don’t get out of hand and you get a chance to do something other than sit in your desk chair.
  22. Limit work hours. When you work at home, work hours tend to blend into personal time as there is no definitive transition between the two. Reduce your on the job stress by making setting hours when you’ll be at work and when you won’t. Even if you have to work overtime to finish a project, make sure you’re keeping a balance otherwise you’ll be headed for a burnout.
  23. Make your personal life a priority. While things like grabbing a drink with your friends or seeing a movie may not seem like big priorities when you have work that needs to get done, in reality you should try to put just as much value on your personal life as you do work. After all, if you have no personal life, what is all that work good for?
  24. Define your daily tasks. One way to overcome the stress of having too much to do is by creating a list of three or four things that you must get done every day. By only putting a few things on your list and clearly defining that these must get done, you’ll have a better chance of checking them off of your list and maybe even have time to get to something you hadn’t planned on.
  25. Do the hard work first. Everyone knows what it’s like to have that one totally unpleasant task hanging over your head. It can even cause you to extend other projects just to avoid facing it. If you just get it out of the way you’ll eliminate the stress of worrying about it altogether and feel better for the rest of the day.
  26. Slow down. It might seem to make sense to speed up to get more work done, but the faster you go the more likely you are to make errors which will cost you more time in the long run. So, take your time, slow down, and make sure you get it right the first time around. You’ll save yourself loads of stress later on.
  27. Be firm. Remember that your time is just as important as anyone else’s, and that when you say no, it means no. Set firm limits on your time and how much you’re willing to take on so you won’t get overworked in the first place .
  28. Block out your time. One method of time management is to schedule blocks of time for each kind of task every day. You will then know that part of your day is dedicated to working on certain parts of projects, part for management and so on.
  29. Brainstorm. Often, stress can be a result of a creative blockage. It’s hard to move forward on designing a webpage when you haven’t got the foggiest idea of where to begin. Luckily there are loads of resources on the internet that can help you to work on brainstorming and drawing all those great ideas out of hiding.
  30. Take care of email. Email can be a great friend but it can also very quickly turn into a monster if you let it get out of control. Set aside some time each day to tend to responding and filing your email so that it never gets a chance to overwhelm you. If you need a free program to manage your email try out Thunderbird.
  31. Review what you’ve done. Feel like you aren’t accomplishing a thing? Take a look back at all the things you’ve gotten done each day. It will help you put everything in perspective and see that you are actually making progress, however slowly it may be.
  32. Streamline. There are many tasks that we do every day that take much longer than they should. Take a look at what you’re doing and see if you can’t automate or pare down the steps it takes to get something done. A few minutes each day may not seem like much, but over the course of the week they add up.
  33. Create clear agendas. One of the biggest wasters of time is phone calls and meetings that are entered into without a clear agenda at the outset. Make sure you know what you want to accomplish when you enter into either of these so that you won’t be stuck rolling your eyes as things spiral out of control.
  34. Decide what’s important. So you’ve got a million things to get done today, how do you know where to start? You can begin by prioritizing your tasks. Focus on those things that are the most important and give yourself some slack on the others.
  35. Be flexible. Not everything has to be done the way you first planned it and sometimes a little compromise is completely acceptable if it makes your life considerably easier.
  36. Learn to focus. It’s easy to become distracted when you work at home or on the Internet, both are full of things that are likely a lot more fun that what you’re supposed to be working on. Figure out what it takes to get you focused, whether it’s listening to music, shutting the door to your office or unplugging your computer from the Internet and work on making it happen on a daily basis. You might find out you can get a lot more done in a lot less time than you thought.
  37. Keep communications succinct. Unless you have a reason to have a lengthy phone or email conversation, try to limit the length of your conversations. It isn’t meant to be rude, just to save you time which you could be used to get more pressing things done.
  38. Have clear boundaries. Whether it’s clients or family, some people just don’t respect boundaries and will bother you regardless of what you’re doing. Eliminate the stress of constantly having to multitask or switch between modes by setting clear boundaries of when you’re available for personal and business matters and sticking to them.
  39. Ask yourself why. If you find yourself with far too much on your plate, take a step back and ask yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing. If you can’t answer or don’t really have a good reason, perhaps it isn’t as important as you at first thought.
  40. Create a routine. Routines aren’t just for cubicle jockeys, they can work well for those working on the Web as well. Try to stick to times when you get up and start working and when you will stop each day. This will help you figure out how much work you need to get done in a given day and space out big projects, making them considerably less stressful in the long run.
  41. Get some sleep. Not sleeping might allow you more time to work on projects, but you won’t be at your best. A few nights without adequate sleep can start to add up and really take a toll on your health. You’ll be better able to cope with your workload, clients, and everyone else when you’re not cranky from lack of sleep.
  42. Personalize your workspace. Make your workspace a much more cheerful place to be in with a little personalization. Hang up a photo of your beloved pet, get a plant, or paper it in photos of your favorite celebrities; whatever makes you feel most at home and happy.
  43. Create a not to do list. While to-do lists are important, it can be equally important to create a not to do list. It can include such distractions as updating your Netflix queue or doing the laundry, whatever you want to prevent yourself from doing or that could help you procrastinate and increase your stress. Best of all, you won’t even have to check anything off because you won’t be doing it.
  44. Get outside. Taking a break to get outside can be just the boost you need to help reduce your stress levels. Sunlight can help raise levels of vitamin D which in turn boost levels of the mood enhancing serotonin
  45. Put it in perspective. Chances are pretty good that it won’t be the end of the world if you don’t get everything done you had set to get done in a day. Remember this the next time you feel too stressed by what you’ve got going on.
  46. Take it out. Everyone gets stressed, the key is to find a healthy way to release that stress, and preferably away from the Internet. Take a kickboxing class, take a shower, do a bit of painting, or whatever helps you calm down after a stressful day.
  47. Find humor. Even the worst and most disparaging situations have a lighter side. When you reach your wit’s end try stepping back and having a laugh at it all. Chances are, it isn’t nearly as bad as you thought.
  48. Be realistic. There are some things that just don’t need to be done perfectly and some that just aren’t going to get done no matter how much sleep you lose. Be realistic in your expectations of yourself and you’ll find it much easier to relax.
  49. Stop procrastinating. It’s easier said than done, but procrastination is one of the biggest creators of stress. With so much fun stuff on the Internet it’s incredibly tempting to surf the Web instead of sticking to your work schedule. If you can’t do it on your own, try using a program like MeeTimer to curb your surfing urges and force yourself to get to work.
  50. Don’t put up with things that don’t work right. Whether it’s an alarm clock, a blog host, or an email system, don’t put up with systems and objects that don’t work right. These add to stress and slow you down.

Comments

  1. says

    Hello and THANK YOU for some pretty awesome tips! Some very excellent ideas.
    Humbly, I would like to add an addendum to the exercise one. Take mini breaks with stretching, breathing (and resting eyes, as you suggested.) Even if you just take 2 minutes every hour, it will refresh you and place you in a better frame to get back to work. At the desk you can point and flex the toes – flexing will circulate the blood upward in your legs instead of having it stagnate because of little movement. Stretch arms up, clasp hands behind and stretch. Blink eyes several times. Move neck gently from side to side, then press chin to chest to elongate neck. Many things can help.
    Have a wonderful day and thanks again for turning me on to such
    great thoughts!

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