How to keep up without getting crushed
- Does your to-do list fit comfortably on one sheet of paper or does it look more like the your telephone White Pages?
- Are you so overwhelmed with work – whether at the office or in your home – that you honestly don’t know where to start?
- Do you tend to put off doing jobs you don’t like until your molehill of projects has grown to be the size of Everest?
If so, it’s time to take a step back, examine your priorities and figure out how to chip away at that edifice without causing an avalanche.
What do you love?
If you’re anything like me, organisation does not come naturally. I would rather spend 5 days drafting plans for the ‘perfect mousetrap’ than 5 minutes doing bookwork for said mousetrap project.
But both jobs are important and need doing. Therein lies the problem!
We all have things we love to do and are good at. These tend to be what we spend the majority of our time on, leaving other, less pleasurable tasks to somehow take care of themselves. Unfortunately, the ‘don’t likes’ just don’t cooperate and so, these jobs never seem to get done.
There are entire books written about the subject of how to reduce stress from work. But here are a few short and sharp miracle tips to get you started.
- Be kind to yourself. No matter how good you are at what you do (and we all know you’re the best!), you can only do one thing at a time. So stop beating yourself up for not doing it all today – nobody else could do that; why should you?
- Breathe. When you sit at your desk and see that huge pile of work – take a few deep, cleansing breaths and then, it will be easier to get to work without feeling panicked.
- No more lists. This may sound strange, but one trick that Drs John and Judy Hinwood taught me is to use tiny sticky notes instead of writing out a list of to-do items. I may have 50 things that I need to get done, but writing these on sticky notes and then, placing those notes onto sheets of writing paper allows me shift them around from most to least important and constantly reshuffle them as situations change. Most importantly, when I’ve finished a job, that lovely sound of a crumpled sticky note going into the recycling bin is literally like music to my ears!
- Delegate. If you hate bookwork, find someone else to do it for you. If you can’t afford to pay full rates, maybe you can work out a barter arrangement where you help each other in exchange for a certain number of hours of work. Can’t stand answering phones? Get a message service – they are very reasonably priced and they can send your messages through via email so you don’t even need to answer the phone if you don’t want to. Clear as much as you can from the ‘hate to do’ or ‘aren’t very good at’ list so you can really concentrate on the things you shine at.
- Get enough exercise. 30 minutes of walking, swimming or some other workout that you like can not only make you feel better, but will reduce your stress levels and increase your productivity. So get moving!
- Laugh – every day, as many times as possible. Dr Hinwood has written a couple of recent blogs on the therapeutic benefits of laughter but I can’t stress enough how important it is to let laughter into your life. And the more work you have to do, the more you should be laughing. Take 5 minutes to go to YouTube and look for funny videos if that helps and create a folder on your computer, tablet or phone with 5 or 6 super-funny clips. Or keep a joke book on hand and read two or three knee slappers every couple of hours. Share them with your colleagues. Laugh until the tears roll down your cheeks. Laugh until your stomach hurts and your sides ache. Make it your daily goal to make at least 2 other people laugh along with you – I can’t imagine a better aim for all of us.
Start out with these ideas and as time goes on, read more about stress-reduction at work so you can add other strategies to your arsenal. There are plenty of good books on the subject. Share your ideas with friends, colleagues and loved ones – there is nothing better than finding something that works and helping others to implement these techniques in their own lives.
by Wynn Grossman
For the Stress to Strength team