Anxiety, Productivity, Goldilocks, and Three Bears

We all know Goldilocks’ story. Three bears, three options for everything, only one that worked for her. Oddly enough, we can learn a lot about productivity from Goldilocks.

People think productivity and anxiety are not on the same team, but they actually go hand-in-hand. The trick is figuring out the level of anxiety that is just right for you. Just like Goldilocks couldn’t make all the options work for her, not everybody finds optimal productivity at the same level.

If anxiety is a sliding 10 point scale (with 1 being cool and collected and 10 being stressed out of your mind), I do my best work at about a level 7. Anything less than that and I don’t have optimal motivation; anything higher than that and productivity starts to slide into task juggling.

Everyone works differently. Some people need to be level 3 or less. Some people need to be over seven (and those are the people who you can probably find running around campaign offices around the country, kudos.)

The problem? We’re not always going to be in our optimal state of anxiety for productive work. We’ll often be at much higher or lower points.

The solution? Create an optimal anxiety level.

For some of you, that means figuring out how to lower anxiety; you’ll need to set up managing techniques that insulate you from stress so that you can do your best work in a calm, relaxed state. For those who love to work under high anxiety (I raised my hand), the trick is to find ways to ramp the urgency up in low-pressure situations.

I am blessed with a work environment that, for the most part, is very, very low stress. To keep myself doing my best work, I set early deadlines for projects, write in sprints, and find other tricks to add pressure into the situation.

Productivity is directly influenced by anxiety, for better or for worse. It’s time you figured out what your optimal level is and start doing your best work.

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