In this hurried world of multitasking and doing more and more with the same amount of resources, stress is inevitable - right? So many of us subscribe to the mentality that if we simply work more, we’ll do better and gain more. What if simply working more only makes us less effective? What if all of the stress we are under was something we could control? What if stress was a choice?

Of course, we wouldn’t pose the question if we didn’t truly believe that it is. Furthermore, we assert that you have the ability to refuse to allow stress to rob you of your daily peace! "How?" you say? Read on.

First, STOP! Slow down, take a breather, clear your schedule (only temporarily) and breathe deep breaths (research shows that deep breaths reduce stress and tension and make thoughts clearer).

Next, follow these simple steps to simplify and de-stress:

Be decisive - make a decision once and follow through quickly so that unresolved decisions cannot wear you down or cause you to second guess yourself.

Determine what is important and spend more energy on those things, letting go of the things that aren’t. If it helps, make a list of all the things going on in your life and see just where your time is going - is it where you want it to be?

Don’t be afraid to say no - remember, it is impossible to do a good job if you are overextended. Typically, a highly successful person (and one who is not under tremendous stress) is also skilled at delegation.

Get rid of clutter - extra distractions are a time killer and make you less efficient. Eliminating clutter where you work, on your computer, and in your home will keep your mind focused on the task at hand. Less IS more.

Create a routine for your day and week - doing the same thing at the same time each day prevents you from spending energy thinking about what you should be doing. Make sure to spend some time on healthy living, like exercise or prayer, which will keep you strong and release tension.

Focus on only one thing at a time - resist the temptation to multitask. In the end, you’ll get two things done much more efficiently by giving each task the attention it needs.

Do your best to not overthink all of this and go for it. Once you get on top of the stressors in your life, stay on top of them. Clearing stress will bring a new brightness and vitality to your life, which will certainly affect those around you, too. Stress is a choice - choose wisely.

“We all live under the same sky, but we don’t all have the same horizon.”

~Konrad Adenauer

What comes to mind when you think of expanding your horizon? For me, it is a spin on thinking outside the box I’ve put myself and my possibilities in. Boxes are good for organizing and prioritizing (and moving!), but often the greatest and most influential ideas are found outside of them.

There is great value in specialization when it comes to the work you do every day. When we spend time learning and growing our skills in one particular area, we get good at it and it can be done with less effort and more efficiency. But specialization can carry with it a risk of getting stuck in a rut. Has that ever happened to you? Sometimes we become so comfortable with what we’re used to that we keep our heads down and get through our work quickly and efficiently, only to realize when we finally look up that our lives and those around us have passed us by.

We need to challenge ourselves to look for opportunities to expand our interests. This may be found by taking that class in stained glass you’ve put off because of time or expense, or learning a foreign language despite your fears that it may be hard. It may be as simple as listening to some of the quiet ideas of yourself or others in your own circles or industry and letting go of your predisposition to repeatedly follow the ideas of a few over and over again. Think outside the box and be willing to take the risk that comes with launching the next great idea.

What seems crazy at first glance, may contain a gem of truth - once unleashed, could change the world. Challenge yourself to capture the “crazy” thoughts and ideas you come across this week, both yours and those of others you know. Write them down and sit with them awhile. Some of them truly might be crazy, but, oh the potential of those that just might be the next great thing in your life!

For a real life example of thinking outside the box, visit and see what we're up to!

Do you often wish you had more time in each day to get things done? Are you busy, but find at day’s end that you didn’t accomplish all that you’d hoped? If you find yourself overwhelmed with stress - you are likely in need of more effective time management skills. And, with our propensity toward multitasking and increased expectations that we get more done in the same amount of time, who isn’t?

First, it is critical for you to shift your focus and concentrate on getting results. Many people neglect to concentrate daily on the things that matter the most. Doing so, makes what we do during the day more efficient and effective. This will take work, but in the end you’ll be expending less effort and getting more done, which makes it all worth it.

Begin by completing these important steps:

Set Goals. If you know where you want to go, it is easier to do what is necessary to get there. Without goals, it is nearly impossible to focus. For expert help on this concept, visit

Prioritize your goals. Once you’ve set goals, you need to rate these goals in order of importance. It’s not enough to create a To-Do list, you need to organize it with the most important tasks listed first. This gives you a game plan for your day.

Minimize distractions. When you’re working on an important task, interruptions can be a huge time stealer. While all distractions cannot be eliminated, you can minimize them by planning time into your schedule for them and knowing which interruptions are necessary to attend to, and which are not.

Avoid procrastination. Procrastination can quickly lead to feeling overwhelmed -figure out when and why you procrastinate and work to avoid it. Reward yourself for completing a task on your To-Do list. This will encourage you to complete the most boring or challenging tasks without putting them off.

Schedule your time. Take the time to plan your day, organizing your tasks by importance, and planning time for interruptions and unexpected events. Make sure your schedule reflects your priorities and goals.

For more information and advice on time management, take this quiz to examine your time management skills are. Putting these principles into practice will not only increase your productivity, but minimize stress in every area of your life.

In this last installment of our Secrets of Success Series, we’ll focus on the last secret, Give More. It has often been said that there are two types of people in this world, the givers and the takers. While we all have to take at times, so that the well doesn’t run dry, we all have to give back, too. Some people are better and more intentional at this than others, but those who are happiest make giving more a priority.

Being from Colorado, where camping and hiking are favorite activities, the mantra “pack out what you pack in” is a familiar one. In other words, leave the land as you found it. The really good park rangers and teachers would go a step further and say, “leave everything better than you found it.” This is a valuable life lesson, and if practiced regularly, one that will undoubtedly grow joy and fulfillment in life.

Often, when people hear advice about giving more, they think about monetary gifts - tithing at church, charitable donations, giving money to the poor or underprivileged. These are all very helpful and necessary practices, but there are so many other ways to give. All that we have is a gift and can be given away. Money and material belongings can be a huge help to others, but so can time, skills, and simple attention to people around you.

Make the effort to spend a little more time talking with your neighbor when you’re both outside, or strike up a conversation with the elderly person sitting all alone at the table next to you at the coffee shop. Get involved in a program focused on mentoring young people who need positive role models, or volunteer to help at a local soup kitchen. Pick up that abandoned water bottle on the grass at the park and put it in the recycling bin, or take the extra time to leave a positive comment for the helpful cashier who was friendly at the store. The possibilities are endless, and many things won’t cost you a dime, but will pay you back dividends.

Imagine a world where more people (even all people!) gave more than they took. What an abundance we would all have, then. Take the time today to make giving more a part of your daily routine and see how it makes you feel.

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