By: Maurine Anderson
Are you tired of work being a source of stress in your life? Work might be your least favorite place to be, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some tips for being less stressed while you’re at work, so you can actually look forward to heading to work in the mornings.
Get to work early.
It’s remarkable what a difference being just a few minutes early to your destination can make. People have a tendency to run a few minutes to places—especially work—simply because they do not want to be early. But if you build just a few minutes’ time into your morning, you can walk into work and spend the first few minutes of your morning relaxing and mentally preparing for your day. Otherwise, you’ll walk into work wired and not-so-ready to take on your workload.
Write out your tasks for the day.
Phones and other mobile devices are great for minimizing your use of paper, but there’s just something about writing tasks out and crossing them out with a pen as you complete them that you can’t quite duplicate with a device. Consider writing out the tasks you want to complete at the start of each day (perhaps during this first few minutes before your shift officially starts) and crossing them out as you go, so that you can more tangibly feel your progress. If you have ongoing tasks that you’d like to chip away at, try breaking the tasks down into smaller chunks and writing down a few specific things you’d like to get done that day.
Try the ‘3 minute rule’.
Here’s a good tip: do you often have small tasks crop up at work—ones that could take you three minutes or less to complete? (Think of sending emails, sending out invoices, logging hours, delivering a memo, etc.) If it makes sense in your line of work, consider abiding by a ‘3 minute rule’, where every time a small task like this crops up, you stop whatever it is you are doing and complete the task. This will save you time and energy in the long run, as you won’t have to spend extra time and effort reminding yourself to complete the task later. Plus, you’ll enjoy that added motivation that comes from getting something done—motivation you might need to complete the bigger tasks.
Learn to accept ‘eating the frog’.
There is a quote by Mark Twain that goes, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” Think of ‘eating the frog’ as getting your worst, most intimidating task at work done. It might be easy to put off completing that task until after eating breakfast, checking your email, etc., but when you get that one task done first thing in the morning, it will really set the tone for the rest of the day—and chances are you will be more productive the rest of the day.
Finding a healthy work-life balance can be much easier said than done, especially if you happen to work from home or can take your work home with you. But even if you do work from home or ‘catch up’ on work at home from time to time, it’s absolutely essential to be able to strike that work-life balance. Doing so will keep you from hitting burnout, and it will help you truly enjoy your time away from work, when you should be ‘recharging’, so to speak. For you, this might mean turning off your work phone, not checking work email from home, or requesting a work computer so that you don’t have to do work on your personal computer.
Take care of yourself.
There is nothing shameful about taking care of yourself or treating yourself at times when you need a break from the hassles of everyday life. Taking care of yourself will mean a variety of things, including eating a well-balanced diet, getting regular exercise, observing good personal hygiene, being social, and engaging yourself spiritually—whatever that might mean for you. Seek to create a lifestyle that fills your personal needs so that you’ll always be ready to tackle what you need to at work.
Practice stress management techniques.
Finally, there are a great many things you can do at work to manage onsets of stress. This tip is wide-ranging and could be covered in a blog post all on its own, but in short, some commonly used stress management techniques include taking deep breaths, meditating, taking a walk, taking a short break, and cleaning your workspace. Be sure to discuss stress management techniques with your employer, as you might have access to stress management tools like these, to free time with a psychiatrist, debriefing sessions, etc.