Workers seem more and more stressed every day.
- Technology has created expectation of an immediate response 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
- Short-term thinking and planning based on the focus of quarterly stock reports has increased the sense of importance for every project. We feel everything is an urgent priority needing instant attention.
- The "doing more with less" mentality has increased the amount of our responsibilities and what is expected of us. This has created a culture of inefficient multi-tasking.
Below are four ways you can reduce the amount of stress you feel at work.
Manage Your Electronics: Do not be a prisoner of your electronics. Control how you use them vs. reacting to them in the moment. When the communication pops up, you stop what you are doing, you read the email, and you say oh it's not urgent, and you go back to your project and then another email pops up and you do the same thing. This is an amazing waste of time and focus. Turn off notifications for your email, texts and social media. Instead carve out time slots during the day to check communications. To help others manage their expectations of your reaction time, you can add an automated response to your email such as, "I will get to your email in 24 hours."
Managing Communications: When you do open your email, open it only once and act upon it in that moment. Choose to either Do, Delegate, Delay, or Delete.
- Do: Respond and complete the request in that moment.
- Delegate: Is this the highest and best use of your time? Is there someone else you can delegate this to? Is there an automated system you can put in place to handle a specific type of email?
- Delay: If the email does not need to be handled right now, but it does need to be done by you, add a reminder to come back to it. Don't just leave it in your inbox as you may then open it again in the future only to delay it again. Color code the email as a "future" and set up a follow-up reminder.
- Delete: Does this need to be done at all? Is there really anything you need to address with it? If you find you are constantly deleting emails from certain sources, you may want to unsubscribe from the list or remove yourself from the project.
Change Your Relationship with Time: When I was working my 9-to-5 job, I would wake up in the morning and immediately go through my to-do list and what I had planned for the day. The result was feeling behind the eight ball before I even left bed. One of the ways to release time's hold on you is before you get out of bed say, "I have more than enough time today to accomplish everything that I need to do." Just making that statement changes your outlook on the day. This reframe empowers you to deal with the day differently.
Simplify and Focus: Often our stress comes from creating unrealistic expectations. There are only a certain hours in the day. Manage what you expect to accomplish by having a list of absolute must-dos for the day -- not more than three per day. Make sure you have enough time to accomplish these tasks. I determine what I am going to focus on for the day by having a realistic list of projects I want to accomplish for the week. Remember to focus only on your daily to-do's. If you focus on the week's goals it can be overwhelming. Focus solely on the obtainable items for that particular day.