According to the American Institute of Stress, 80% of workers feel stress on the job, nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage stress, and 42% say their coworkers need advice on workplace stress management. Truth be told, a lot of our stress is caused by inefficient time management and planning. How you manage your time on a day to day basis determines how productive you can be and is key to reducing workplace stress & anxiety. It goes a long way in helping you lead a more sustainable and contented life.
However, stress isn’t always bad. A healthy amount of stress is what keeps you on your toes and more alert to challenges. It is the fuel that can keep you more focused and productive. In today’s hectic world, and more so now with most of us working from home during the COVID19 crisis, it has become increasingly difficult to separate professional from personal life.
If work stress is leaving you feeling overwhelmed and affecting your performance and mental peace, it’s time for you to take action. These simple tips can help you manage your time and efforts in a holistic manner.
Identify Your Stress Triggers
A lot of times, we aren’t even fully aware of the reasons for our stress, and so it becomes harder to deal with it. Our personality, previous experiences, and other unique factors contribute to the way we perceive things and the way we deal with stress; and it isn’t always the same with everyone. In fact, what triggers your co-worker may not be the same for you, and vice versa.
Journaling about your stressors for a week or two can help you identify a pattern of triggers and how you respond to them. Note the incident, people involved, and your emotion. Understanding your stressors is key to mitigating it. Be self-aware and self-sufficient, and don’t be ashamed to turn down something that won’t work for you within the given parameters.
Better Your Time Management Skills
Many times, without us realizing, poorly managed time becomes our biggest reason for work-related frustration. We often tend to wrongly estimate our capabilities when it comes to goal-setting, either by setting goals that are unachievable or too easily achievable. It helps to have a clear comprehension of your strengths and the areas where you might need a little practice. That way you can manage your time and others’ expectations better by allocating more time for tasks that are out of your area of expertise.
If you find it tough to keep up with too many tasks at hand, it might help to prioritize and make to-do lists. Be mindful of deadlines and tasks that are too close together, and prioritize to tackle the harder ones first. Eliminate periods of time wastage during the day and identify areas where you can improve on your time management skills.
Finish What You Start
We know that some highly productive people are multi-taskers. But if you get easily distracted, take on tasks one at a time and see them through. Distractions are aplenty at the workplace – a new email notification or your coworkers talking nearby, and the distractions could possibly be more for some of us working from home. Some easy ways to overcome distractions are to turn off your notifications, put yourself on DND (Do Not Disturb) mode, and set timers for yourself so you can accomplish your tasks in a timely manner.
Not completing tasks at hand, takes up a lot of mental real estate and causes a lot of stress until the task is completed. When you start to manage your time well, you will begin to notice that you’re able to finish the things you have started in one go, rather than leave them halfway and move onto what’s next.
Eliminate Mental Clutter: Re-organise
When work-related stress threatens to overwhelm you, there are simple steps you can take to eliminate it. Set priorities against a clear objective, and make sure that your daily activities back-track to your daily goals. Instead of cluttering your mind with several tasks, pick 2-3 things to focus on. Remember that not everything is a priority, so pick tasks that will get you closer to your goals. If a certain task does not get you closer to your desired goal – it simply shouldn’t be a priority. Make use of a calendar to organize your work, especially if you’re someone who struggles with numbers, dates & back-to-back meetings on a daily basis, and make sure you schedule breaks into your calendar as well.
Many of us feel compelled to be available for work round-the-clock or are forced by habit to reply to that pesky email on our smartphones at 12 am just to get it out of the way. But it is important to establish healthy boundaries. This could mean not taking calls or checking emails post working hours or over the weekend.
Adopt a Wholesome Approach to Health
While we place a lot of importance on bettering ourselves to live more wholesome lives, it is important to understand where to begin. Leading a healthy life begins with the kind of food you eat, the thoughts you cultivate in your head, and also the amount of sleep you get on a daily basis. To live healthier lives and manage work-related stress, it helps to start looking at health in a holistic way. Include foods that are rich in complex carbs that will fuel your brain and aid concentration and better focus. Steer clear of foods that are high in fat or carbs like sugar that could make you feel lethargic and tired.
Apart from adopting a healthier diet, adopt physical activity into your daily routine, and make it a point to get your fixed eight hours of sleep every day. Turn off your screens an hour before bed and allow your mind to slowly quiet down for the day to give it some much-needed rest. Whether it’s a TV or a laptop, or a smartphone screen, it helps to keep in mind that gadgets tend to overstimulate our brains and keep us awake for longer periods of time.
The harsh truth – a lot of times, in our quest to be perfect, we end up spending (read wasting) a substantial amount of time re-working things that would have worked as first-cuts, while more important things are left haggling for attention. Resist perfectionism, and cut yourself some slack when it comes to work because truly there is no such thing as perfect. Understand that you might not be able to do everything perfectly, every single time. Look for satisfaction and meaning in your work, and take time to pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
Make choices that will help you end your day on a reflective note. It helps to wind down with a healthy activity like an evening jog or some quality time with your family. Focus your effort and energy on the things you can control, like the way you choose to treat people, the effort you put into your daily tasks, your attitude and outlook on life, and let go of things beyond your control. This way you can feel contented even in the midst of a stressful work environment.
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