According to research, stress has a huge impact on your performance at work. Highly stressed employees have 50 percent higher presenteeism rates, and they also take more sick days than their less stressed counterparts: 4.6 per year compared to 2.6.
Don't want to be one of the unproductive? Try one of these 10 ways to lower your stress – for your sake and the sake of your coworkers.
1. Get Away From Your Desk
You can start reducing your stress and boosting your productivity by learning to walk away from your desk once in awhile. Going for a walk has been shown to increase overall brain function by 4 percent and boost creative output by 60 percent.
To work some desk-free time into your day, consider following the "52-17 method," which is when you work for 52 minutes and take a break for 17 minutes.
Bonus: Use the 17 minutes to exercise. Take a walking meeting, invest in a FitDesk or simply climb the stairs.
2. Surround Yourself With Productive People
Ever heard the phrase, "You become who you surround yourself with"? It's no different at work: If you surround yourself with productive people, you are more likely to become a more productive person.
Think of a few people whose productivity you admire and make it a point to interact with them regularly. Ask questions and start conversations. Before you know it, you'll find yourself picking up those positive habits you desire for yourself.
Bonus: Ask a person you admire to be your mentor. Be sure to give as much as you get in the relationship. Learn more about mentoring with these tips.
3. Create Accountability
Thanks to Gallup, we know that only 31 percent of employees are actually engaged at work. If you're a member of the unproductive 69 percent, accountability can go a long way.
A few tips for increased accountability:
- Give someone permission to ask you what you've gotten done that day – and be honest with them.
- Institute a performance management system that keeps track of your goals and progress.
- Set tangible goals for yourself and keep to them.
Bonus: Plan your upcoming week out on Sunday nights so you have daily duties to accomplish. This will not only help with stress management, but also give you a clear focus for each and every day.
4. Decorate the Office
Adding a little color to your office could be the very thing you need to give you that extra boost: As it turns out, color has a major effect on mood and productivity. Who would have thought?
Bonus: Can't redecorate? Bring in a plant. One study found that adding plants to the office can increase your productivity by 15 percent.
5. Try the '5 Before 11' Rule
It isn't unusual to come to work and find yourself overwhelmed by all that needs to get done. That's where the "5 before 11 rule" comes in handy: Pick five things that you would like to accomplish before 11 AM. Make sure they are things that will make you feel productive and accomplished. That feeling will help you maintain high levels of productivity throughout the day.
Bonus: Keep it going – set out five things you want to do after lunch as well.
6. Listen to Music
According to research, 70 percent of all office workers work in open-plan offices. That makes them more susceptible to accidental noise, which can sap productivity by as much as 66 percent. Listening to music can block out the ringing phones and chatting coworkers, allowing you to focus in on your work.
Bonus: The type of music you listen to can boost your productivity, depending on the type of work you're doing. For example, listening to classical music while carrying out mathematical tasks can raise your accuracy by 12 percent.
7. Clear Away Distractions
The Internet is the main productivity killer for 44 percent of people, and another 52 percent complain that their cellphones are to blame for most of their distractions. The path to overcoming this obstacle may be obvious, but it shouldn't be left unsaid: Be disciplined with yourself. Clear away your distractions, and you will surely feel less harried and more productive.
Bonus: Download a productivity app that blocks social networks for a set amount of time or set your phone to "do not disturb" mode during work hours.
8. Live Better Outside the Office
What you do outside the office may be to blame what happens in the office. Poor diet and exercise may be the culprits behind your high stress levels and lack of productivity. Remember to meditate, exercise, eat right, and sleep well!
Bonus: Even doing something as small as drinking a lot of water can increase productivity by 14 percent!
9. Take Naps
Did you hate being forced to nap as a child? Well, it turns out your mother was just setting you up for a more productive lifestyle. Taking a nap improves alertness and focus. In fact, NASA found that taking a 40-minute nap resulted in higher levels of alertness for pilots.
Bonus: Google knows what's up: Its headquarters features nap pods for employee use. That might be something your company can try.
10. Feel Rewarded
Are you even interested in what you are doing? Do you feel your job benefits you? If not, this could spell disaster for your productivity.
Research shows that self-interest – the degree to which you feel rewarded by the work you do – accounts for as much as 75 percent of your motivation.
Bonus: Hopefully a new gig at which you do feel rewarded.
If you're feeling stressed out and disengaged at work, try some of these tips. You may find that you feel happier, more productive, and more accomplished. Heck, you may even start rocketing up that corporate ladder faster than ever before!
A version of this article originally appeared on the Reviewsnap blog.
Chris Arringdale is the cofounder and president of Reviewsnap.