Dear Diligent Sunday Readers,
Another week has passed, and almost 27% of the year is over. Many of my readers are celebrating the Easter holiday this weekend, which means having a four-day weekend in Germany from Friday to Monday.
I had been looking forward to this long weekend for quite a time and had many ideas and wishes for these four days:
- Carrying out my usual weekly routines and habits, such as workout, reading, writing newsletters, organising my note system, and grocery shopping
- Doing something with my wife or going on a long bike ride
- Creating a first product for Deliberate-Diligence.com (a €40 video workshop) to generate revenue to offset costs and efforts
- Completing backed-up household tasks, such as cleaning up the balcony, replanting, and spring cleaning the windows
- A dozen other desk tasks were on the task list that I roughly scheduled for the weekend.
The four days seemed extensive and free, so I diligently added activities and tasks.
You can probably guess the outcome.
I barely made it to Friday with my last bit of mental strength because the days and weeks before were already filled with tasks and plans. I could not work productively on Friday, and in retrospect, I tended to procrastinate and fill my time with non-essential tasks.
I regret not anticipating my exhaustion or at least feeling it in the morning because this way, I neither completed my tasks nor did I get the benefits of rest. In other words, I've managed to get myself the worst of both scenarios.
Well, since Saturday, I've been fit again, but now I have had the problem that the remaining three days were overloaded with plans, which resulted in overwhelm and caused me to get distracted and make little progress.
And that, in turn, makes me feel dissatisfied, tired, stressed, and frustrated today on Sunday.
That's when I finally realised: Isn't this entirely unnecessary, self-imposed suffering?
Consider the following scenario instead:
- I could have recognised in advance that Easter is an excellent opportunity to relax and anticipate my exhaustion because it's the same every Easter weekend.
- I could have consciously made little or no plans for the four days and let my inner flow or my family's wishes guide me.
- I could have let my task list rest - those desk tasks won't have run away.
- I could have thought it was okay not to do anything for Deliberate-Diligence.com. After all, one overestimates the relevance of one's content: at the end of the day, nobody waits for it.
- As a regular office and knowledge worker, I could have aimed to do more physical tasks on Easter weekend, such as spring cleaning, instead of mental tasks like desk work.
The result would have been astounding:
- Although I set fewer goals, I would have produced more outputs because I wouldn't have gotten distracted and blocked by overwhelm.
- I would have experienced the weekend with a different feeling: feeling freedom and progress instead of being trapped in a planning cage and stressed.
It could have been! But the truth is that, despite knowing better, I again fell into self-induced stress.
Well, at least that gives me an excellent topic for the Diligent Sunday Newsletter - let's talk about stress management techniques today!
Until then, I wish you a great start to the 15th calendar week.
Today at a Glance:
- 💬 Quote of the Week: The Secret to Conquering Stress
- 🥸 Opinion: A personal perspective on the importance of stress management
- ⚒️ Listicle: My top 10 proven stress management techniques
- ⌨️ Summary of the week's blog articles
💬 Quote of the Week: The Secret to Conquering Stress
The secret to conquering stress lies not in eliminating it but in mastering the art of dancing with it.
🥸 Opinion: A personal perspective on the importance of stress management
I believe that stress is not that bad per se, at least not in the sense of a disease that needs to be eliminated. Stress is often seen as a trigger of many illnesses, such as depression and burnout.
But stress is a part of life. Any change comes with stress, especially those outside our comfort zones.
Many people believe I am particularly stress-resistant or have little stress because I walk through life calmly and carefree in most situations.
But that's not entirely true. When I think about my stress, I feel it everywhere. Anything that prevents me from lingering on the couch and reading feels like stress. Do I have to go grocery shopping? Stress. Do I have to carry out my everyday routines today? Stress. Do I have to attend meetings? Stress. Do I even have to plan what needs to be done? Mega stress. Do I have to take a walk that I like? Also, stress!
It's just everywhere.
But I also know that stress is necessary because otherwise, I'd lie on the couch, vegetating. Stress is the source of my daily drive to get things done, improve myself, and make an impact.
Stress is necessary for me to feel fulfilment because it ensures that I am making the most of my time. So, in a way, stress is an essential condition for happiness and serenity.
But where, then, is the problem with stress?
The trick lies in the above quote: "The secret to conquering stress lies not in eliminating it but in mastering the art of dancing with it."
The art is to keep stress in the right balance:
- Stress must be viewed from the proper perspective—as a positive drive that belongs to the path of growth and self-improvement and being human.
- There shouldn't be too much stress—it should only push you a tiny bit beyond your previous limits. Otherwise, it might break you.
- Stress should not be permanent—there must be ups and downs, and a period of relaxation must be able to reward a stress phase.
- Stress must be controllable or, better yet, self-determined because stress imposed on us leads directly to a downward spiral.
It's genuinely a dance that needs to be mastered.
In the next section, I will share a few tips that help me stay in step with this dance.
⚒️ Listicle: My top 10 proven stress management techniques
- Set realistic goals: Many people overestimate what they can achieve in a day. Avoid filling your to-do list with a week's worth of tasks. Instead, be honest with yourself and aim to complete one important task each day ("The One Thing").
- Establish routines: Weekly and daily routines can help manage recurring tasks that may cause stress. Create morning and evening routines to accomplish these tasks on autopilot, conserving energy.
- Do some endurance exercises. I return much more relaxed when stressed and go for a 45-minute run. The body releases endorphins, the natural feel-good chemicals, during enjoyable exertion. Tip: use this tool tactically by going for a 30-45 minute run daily.
- Talk to others about your stress (or the source thereof). I don't do this at home or with friends (I don't want to burden others with my issues), but it works wonders at work. Talk to trusted colleagues about your stress. Simply telling someone and exchanging perspectives will help with stress management.
- Manage your energy: Better energy management leads to improved stress management. Ensure optimal performance by sleeping enough, avoiding heavy meals and alcohol in the evening, and tackling the most stressful tasks in the morning when your willpower is most potent.
- Find ways to gain control: As mentioned in my essay, it makes a complete difference whether you are in the driver's seat of your stress or someone else is imposing it on you. None of us is entirely in control of our agenda. There is always someone we serve. If in doubt, it's the family you can't escape. Tip: find ways to regain control over the stress factors affecting you. If you can't influence the "what," find a "how" that brings you joy or where you can learn something new.
- Reward yourself after a stressful period: After completing a stressful task, relax and reward yourself in two ways – by taking some time off and enjoying a symbolic reward, like a purchase or leisure activity.
- Visualise achieving your goal: Each stress factor should have a target or a definition of completion. Imagine how it will feel once you've reached that goal, whether it's the satisfaction of achievement or the appreciation of others.
- Write down your stressors: Listing your stressors can help put things in perspective. Sort, consolidate, strike out - a monster that still seems big in your head quickly shrinks to a small imp on paper.
- Take small steps in tackling abstract stress situations: If the reasons or measures to address a problem are unclear, commit to working on it for 25 minutes. Set a timer, and either continue working if you're in the flow or revisit the problem the next day, making progress bit by bit.
⌨️ Summary of the week's blog articles
I wrote only one blog article this week, but it could be particularly decisive for you (and me).
Looking back over the past decades and generations, there have always been moments of upheaval where opportunities existed to move beyond being a worker and build wealth. In hindsight, it's often said, 'If only I had been in the right place at the right time! But I never had the chance!'
In truth, even at 37 years old, I have already had plenty of opportunities to take advantage of such gold rushes. I've often been in the right place with suitable topics at the right time, but I didn't see the opportunities, talked them down, or gave up too quickly.
- I wrote my first blog article before the time of Corona. If I hadn't given up after the first failure, I would have taken full advantage of the golden age of content creation, where creators grew like crazy because half of life suddenly moved online.
- Between the ages of 16-18, I wrote my first PHP content management system (CMS) for e-gaming clans. I didn't think much of it then and readily gave it up for military service and university. In hindsight, it could have become a similar story to Shopify. It was the right time with the right product in a (soon) exploding market.
It's a pity, so I have become more sensitive to what's happening now and in the future. And I believe generative AI could be the next opportunity to create wealth.
I don't know exactly how, but my intuition has been activated.
I described some initial ideas in the blog article "Navigating the Shift to Generative AI: Insights on How to Stay Ahead of the Game".
Feel free to get inspired by it!
That's it for today. Have a fantastic start to the week, and don't get stressed!