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Stress management: how not to feel overwhelmed at work
December 8th 2014
Are deadlines and workloads weighing you down? Boost productiveness, increase work confidence and lessen stress levels with these top tips
Does panic turn your productivity into procrastination? A daily office dilemma we can certainly all relate with, what job skills can help in dealing with our workload woes, fight anxiety and help put us in the right mindset for tackling any challenge?
We asked psychologist, life coach and Get The Gloss Expert Elaine Slater for her recommendations when it comes to turning flight into fight when work demands are coming at us left, right and centre. From the best ways to start our days to boosting efficiency, keep stress levels at bay with these five top tips for fighting workload overload and staying calm amidst the chaos.
The 3 Ps: prioritise, perspective and productivity
Fighting a losing battle against your to-do lists? With our notepads of tasks seemingly bulging at the seams, it can be tempting to activate multi-tasker mode and end up risking quality over quantity.
So how can we ensure that we can keep acquiring as many ticks as possible while also appeasing our inner perfectionists too? “Complete quick and manageable tasks first to build confidence and a sense of finishing things,” advises Elaine. “Practice a mental download: get your to-do list out of your head and write everything down to get perspective on your tasks at hand,” she adds. “Avoid multitasking and focus 100% on the things you need to get done now. Avoid distractions and make yourself un-interruptible. Decide what is urgent, what is important and what can wait.”
Want to get the most out of your day? “Write a priority list and allocate tasks as follows: For Today – This Week – The Future.” There are only so many hours in the day after all. And most importantly, ensure that your health is prioritised above all else by fuelling yourself accordingly to fire up energy levels, “Make sure you eat no matter how busy things are,” says Elaine. Try stocking up your desk drawers with these healthy snacks to ensure that you never get caught out.
Wake up and work like a champion
Does the sound of your alarm fill you with a sense of dread that makes you want to retreat back into the depths of your duvet? If so, there are thankfully a couple of quick and easy hacks that we can all do to help fight the early morning blues and put us in the right mindset to tackle the day. “Get up 10 minutes early to do some simple stretches and practice deep breathing,” suggests Elaine. “Avoid turning on your phone or laptop for at least 30 minutes after waking up. Have some quiet time rather than bombarding yourself with technology.”
There’s a reason why Wonder Woman is a comic book character. The amount she gets done in a day is simply unachievable by us mere mortals. While setting ourselves goals so that we have something to strive towards is one thing, setting ones that are downright unfeasible is a sure fire way for making us feel as if we’ve always fallen short, no matter how much we’ve achieved that day. “Be realistic about what you can and can’t achieve,” advises Elaine. “Work at a manageable pace. Slow it down every few hours and take short breaks in order to get right back up to full speed,” she adds.
Ever been so stuck into a project that you’ve forgotten to drink, eat or even go to the loo? You’re not alone however, it seems we could be doing more harm than good when it comes to the quality of the work that we’re producing - never underestimate the power of a fresh set of eyes. “Take mind breaks to restore sanity and calm,” recommends Elaine. “Go and have a snack, get some fresh air, do some stretches or go for a walk and rest your brain with a digital detox.”
A philosophy that we should continue even when the working day is over, Elaine recommends prioritising exercise, meditation, hobbies and seeing friends and family after hours to incorporate some fun into our diaries. The best employees are often those who have a range of different experiences to draw from.
Just say no
“Learn to say no – graciously and diplomatically – but still no,” advises Elaine when faced with managing an unworkable workload. Offer an alternative, keep your reasoning professional and unemotional and forward plan to ensure that if you are faced with a difficult timeframe, you’re able to work with your superiors to accommodate any potential problems well in advance. They’ll appreciate you coming to them sooner rather than later. “Don’t overwhelm yourself by overcommitting – only do what you can do,” says Elaine. Ultimately, it’s better to do 95% of your tasks to a high standard than to do 100% of them half-heartedly in our opinion.