Ask Colleen

Hi Colleen. This economy is stressing me out. Can I do anything that will help me manage stress and make me more productive? Mark in San Jose.

Thanks for writing and as a first step, breathe! Stress is an inescapable part of being a sales professional. You have the stress of hitting your numbers, the physical stress that travel brings, and the emotional stress of being away from your family. The good news is while you can’t stop stress from occurring, you can change the way you react to it. The following suggestions for stress reduction will help you relax, enjoy life and being a sales pro. And as a direct result, these ideas will help you to be more productive, sell more and which, coincidentally will help you reduce chances of being stressed in the future!

1. Laugh. Laughter is one of the best tension releasers there is. Find things to laugh about and people to laugh with. Laughter is a great antidote for taking life too seriously. I keep a file of great jokes in my email system so when I need a great laugh, I can get one instantly! I also visit for a good laugh.

2. Take breaks. If you are working on a stressful activity, set it down for a few minutes, stretch and if you can, go for a walk if you can. Learning to interrupt a stress-producing activity will help give you the break from tension that you need. You’ll return to your activity refreshed and ready to be more productive. If you can get some exercise it will help you clear your mind and more productively solve the problem or the task at hand. Your body needs a break about every 90 minutes. So be sure to get up from your desk, have a snack and change your focus for about 15 minutes.

3. Make “happy” plans. Reward yourself for completing a task or hitting a goal. Make sure you set that goal in advance of completing the task because anticipation is an exciting feeling and will help propel you to success. Plan to see a special movie, eat out with someone you like, or do something else that pleases you. What gets rewarded gets repeated.

4. Focus your thoughts. The habit of thinking about too many things at the same time is extremely fatiguing and stress producing. Instead of being overwhelmed and unproductive, concentrate on one task at a time. Try making a list of other things you must do, and then put the list aside, so that you don’t have to think about the tasks, but you won’t worry about forgetting them either. Multi tasking leads to stress. Focus on one task at a time. Complete it without interruption, cross it off your list and move on.

Good luck! Colleen