Think your workplace is stressful? You're not alone. A newly-published American Psychological Association (APA) study shows American stress levels are the highest they've been in 10 years. Though the political climate has certainly contributed to this, it's not the only factor. A different APA study showed 75 percent of employees consider their jobs to be a major source of stress.
Office stress takes a toll on our personal lives. But it costs our businesses, too. The American Institute of Stress estimates job stress costs $300 billion annually due to absenteeism, turnover, decreased productivity and other costs.
How can you reduce office stress and stop seeing its negative effects in your professional and personal life? Here are seven tools that can help make your life less stressful and more productive.
Learning how to deal with stress is a skill, and Happify helps develop this skill. Through evidence-based techniques, Happify helps users understand the source of their feelings. Then, it teaches how to turn negative feelings into positive ones.
Based on the data, Happify delivers on its promises. At least 86 percent of frequent users report being happier in two months. With just a few activities per week, users can understand the source of their negative emotions and overcome them at the source. This helps both the users and their co-workers create a happy (and less stressful) workplace.
Being productive feels good. Studies show being recognized for accomplishments matters more than money to employees. But being in a stressful workplace can make staying productive (and delivering work clients love) difficult.
Enter Focus@Will, a secret weapon for anyone looking to instantly boost productivity. Focus@Will uses scientifically optimized background music to help users reduce distractions. This allows them to achieve “deep” work, the kind of work that delivers a sense of accomplishment. Focus@Will also gives users the ability to measure their productivity, proving how productivity has improved over time.
Full disclosure: I’m an editor at ActiveCollab. But regardless, if your business is still using spreadsheets to keep track of projects, stop now. There’s a better way to manage team efforts.
Project management tools like ActiveCollab enable better teamwork. They help teams gain a top-down view of upcoming deadlines, manage workloads and achieve goals. Though there are plenty of similar tools, ActiveCollab focuses on enhancing communication. This solves potential problems early on and prevents stress in the first place. For example, project managers can easily check project status. They can also reassign tasks if a team member is overloaded with other work, keeping everyone happy (and on time).
Sleep Better with Runtastic
Stress at the office leads to more stress at home. Stress at home means poor sleep. And poor sleep means less emotional reserves to deal with stress during the day. It’s a vicious cycle, but there’s help.
Sleep Better with Runtastic helps users understand their sleep. From daytime activities that affect rest to setting good pre-bed habits, the app provides practical data to get better sleep. With a full night’s rest, suddenly finishing a to-do list at work doesn’t feel so impossible.
Science proves it: Meetings kill productivity. For many companies, meetings are a massive time-suck and source of office stress.
AgreeDo aims to change this. Billed as “meetings redefined,” AgreeDo helps teams create and share clear agendas. Participants can add comments before a meeting, reducing the meeting’s length. Then, during the meeting, teams can easily keep track of how their agenda items resolved. Not only does this take the stress out of planning meetings, it can make them dramatically more productive.
Slack, Hangouts or Skype
A recent Gallup report showed workers are happier when collaborating remotely. Based on the data, flexible scheduling and remote working increase productivity, too. What better way to reduce office stress than removing the office entirely? (Many agencies operate using remote teams and find great success.)
But working remotely without the right tools can actually make collaboration more frustrating. (There’s a reason 77 percent of Fortune 500 companies use Slack to stay in touch.) To achieve the full benefits of remote collaboration, use a communication tool with video calling and archived chats. Hangouts and Skype offer these features and work across platforms. If you only need to chat, Slack is one of the most popular solutions. By offering the flexibility of synchronous (immediate) communication and asynchronous messaging, your teams can collaborate in the way that’s most effective for them.
Taking creative breaks helps restore mental and emotional resources. It’s the classic “sharpen the saw” principle. Sometimes it’s hard to remember to take breaks. “Just one more email” turns into hours of low-impact work that saps mental resources.
Tools like FocusWatch help remind users to take these breaks. Rather than getting caught up in a day of mundane tasks, users can see how long they’ve been plugging away. Then users can be reminded to take a moment away, refresh and return with greater focus and productivity.
In the end, beating stress in your office is just as much about prevention as it is managing the symptoms of stress. These tools help you solve stress at its core, opening the door to greater productivity and a happier team.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors.