What is there to do when work is piling up on your desk and the requests keep coming in? Short of staying late and working extra hard to get it all done, how can you handle the stress level appropriately and graciously? Here are my tips for managing stress in the workplace:
- Minimize the Distractions
- Put your phone away. If you are someone who keeps your personal phone on your desk, hide it in a drawer or keep it in your bag to prevent yourself from getting distracted or checking that most recent text which then turns into a long conversation.
- Stay away from your social media accounts while at work (at least your personal ones). Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. can all be like a blackhole for losing free/spare time. What starts as a quick check for something you need to know can easily turn into hours of scrolling.
- Keep office chatter to a minimum. While it is always wonderful to be friendly with your colleagues, sometimes it is necessary to say, “I would love to chat, but I have a lot to tackle today. Unfortunately, I have to cut our conversation short.” Just remember, this refers to personal/social conversations, not professional meetings or talks with your boss/supervisor. However, if a meeting is getting off topic and taking too long, do not be afraid to steer the conversation back to business so you can wrap up the meeting.
- Manage Your Time
- Stay organized. Keep a running “To Do” list to track what needs to get done or what needs to be assigned. This is especially helpful if you are working on more than one project at once. Not to mention, checking something off the list is an incredibly refreshing feeling! Additionally, keep your work space clean. Working in a cluttered environment produces anxiety for a lot of people.
- Prioritize. Evaluate your workload and decide what needs to get done when. Keep timelines in mind and be sure you are working on the matters that take precedence. Working between multiple projects is doable, but sometimes you need to focus all your attention in one direction.
- Make a timeline or schedule for yourself. Break down your work into smaller, more manageable tasks and have checkpoints along the way. Think of it as setting mini goals for yourself to help reach project completion!
- Ask for Help and Advocate for Yourself
- Delegate roles and responsibilities. If you have a large scale project, event, etc. you are working on and know you need assistance, ask your coworkers. Organize a team meeting and delegate roles and responsibilities to others. Just remember, do not pass off your work to others – they are there to help, not do your job for you.
- Advocate for yourself. If your boss is continuously passing things to you and your pile is growing larger than what you can handle, ask to meet with your boss. Explain to him/her that the quality of your work is important to you and while you appreciate his/her faith in you for asking to do so much at once, you do not want to spread yourself too thin and compromise the quality of your work. Ensure your boss you will get the work done by discussing an achievable way forward.
- Remember to Breathe!
- Literally breathe. Just take a deep breath and exhale the stress.
- Every so often it is good to take a break from the computer. Get up from your chair and stretch or try a relaxing yoga pose.
- If you have a few minutes to spare, take a short walk outside for a change of scenery and a breath of fresh air!
- Take Time for Yourself
- Take Your Lunch Break. It is good to get out of your office and eat somewhere other than at your desk. Not only does eating at your desk keep you sedentary for longer, it also leads to eating more.
- Use Your Vacation Days. After a long, high intensity period in the office, it is good to reward yourself with a little “rest and relaxation.” Planning trips (long or short) and having something to look forward to can be a big motivator to keep pushing through the busy times.
In stressful situations, what have you done to manage it well?
Just remember, you are capable of handling all you are being asked to do!