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Everyone knows the pen is mightier than the sword, but words don’t have to be written down to yield tremendous power. As Job Success Labs founder and renowned career coach Lea McLeod writes in a great post for the Daily Muse, the things we say to ourselves have tremendous impacts on our productivity and well being. Words of negativity about our boss or workplaces can create self-fulfilling prophecies, or as organizational expert Robert Kreitner puts it, ““We strive to validate our perceptions of reality, no matter how faulty they may be.”

In other words, if you say things are bad, they will be bad. Luckily, McLeod has outlined “3 Phrases That Stress You Out the Second You Say Them.” These are sentiments to be avoided at all costs, and there’s even some strong science to support McLeod’s views. According to the authors of the book “Words Can Change Your Brain,” words can “influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress.”

The first phrase McLeod singles out is “I’m swamped.” As she admits, this used to be one of her favorite things to say at work, but she soon realized it only added to her stress level. It drove home the idea she was feeling overwhelmed, even when she wasn’t. Better, she writes, to say something like this: “This is a huge project, but if I break it into smaller pieces it’ll be less overwhelming.”

Along the same lines, McLeod advocates cutting “I’m so busy” from your life. The reason? Busyness is often deceiving. You’re doing three things at once, and that makes you feel super stressed out, but really, you’re taking multitasking too far. Studies have shown that people are less effective when they’re juggling many things, and slicing “I’m so busy” from your list of utterances may cause you to evaluate your work habits and make better choices.

“Start saying to yourself, ‘I’m not that busy, I’m focused on the one thing I’m doing now’ — and then do it,” McLeod writes.

Lastly, McLeod says to stop saying, “I don’t have time for that.” Everyone has time for everything. There’s 24 hours in your day just like there are 24 in President Obama’s or the CEO of Microsoft’s. What it boils down to is priorities. If you’re too busy to tackle a certain project, it’s because you’ve determined it’s not the most pressing thing on your plate. Tell yourself that, McLeod urges.

“Clearly delineating your priorities puts you in control of your time and to-do list, instead of the other way around,” she writes.


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