In our gig economy, the pace of life moves at warp speed and we all seem to be trying to share resources and navigate the elusive feeling of being overwhelmed.

We are all looking for an answer to: How do you cope with stress?

Case in point: every morning, I take a brisk walk in my suburban neighbourhood as part of my daily routine. A few days ago, I noticed someone standing in the middle of the road with her dog on a leash. As I walked a little closer, she was texting or e-mailing and her dog was now laying on the road. It’s a pretty friendly area and so I said “good morning.” She didn’t even look up, concentrating on her keyboard, I’m not sure that she even heard me, but, the dog on the other hand rolled over on his back and put all four feet up in the air looking for attention. My first thought was I hope it isn’t serious….at 6:00am standing in the middle of the road on the phone. The dog however did bring a smile to my face – it was a little comical to see his reaction to my morning greeting.

Are you able to relate to a similar story?

I did think for the rest of my route that I too have found myself at what seems to be ridiculous times of the day checking for messages and responding to emails.

What a stressful way to start the day…

It was a reminder that whenever we attend networking events, cocktail parties or business meetings everyone seems to be dealing with their own level of stress.

As an entrepreneurial coach, I’ve heard similar stories on the pressure we all feel to continually be available. As a group, we decided to change the dynamic and began to discuss a few of the resources or lifestyle choices that seem to put things in perspective.

There have been some creative solutions to what I call the “engagement game.”

Here is an ad hoc list:
1) Put the phone on silent… permanently
2) Respond to emails and messages at specific times of the day
3) There is nothing like being “present” in conversations – no devices allowed
4) Schedule “me-time”
5) Take a day off
6) Commit to a healthy diet and exercise

It all seems very logical, doesn’t it?

Here’s a concept we’ve adopted: The 80/20 Rule.

This has been around for a number of years and it is usually applied to sales situations. We’ve all heard “ 80% of your business is from 20% of your clients.” It has been successfully adopted into many different situations where there is a factor of push and pull.

Here is how we apply the term to coping with stress:

80% of the time, commit to your schedule, goals, objectives and responsibilities that are necessary in everyday life.

20% of the time, give yourself permission to break the rules!

This simple equation is one that everyone enjoys because it suggests that we not only have a choice but the freedom to choose without the blame game!

Permission, is the key factor, you choose what rules to break and how you’d like to break them with the freedom to make a selection guilt free. For most of us, we adapt the concept to various factors that are part of each day, week or month and it is having a positive effect on how we cope with stress.

For some reason, the freedom to choose creates a sense of prioritizing what we “need” to do rather than a series of expectations. It doesn’t mean that we ignore the obvious but rather “choose” to delay or postpone the task to another day, maybe even delegate to another member of our team.

It is almost like taking a breath of fresh air…and some of us literally do that too.

The positive results are worth the effort and the process you develop does seem to eliminate some of the stress most of the time.

It is one of those things that creates a sense of calm in a hectic situation and it is easy to implement.

If your comfortable with the concept, give it a try…

The next time you feel overwhelmed, apply the 80/20 rule, you may find that the process you develop will be a short answer for how you begin to cope with stress.

(Trish is a Master Coach Practitioner, sharing resources so you may develop a new definition for success.)