5 Tips for Managing Workplace Stress
In today’s fast-paced business world, the list of stress factors grows longer every day. Everyone reacts differently to the strain of living in this pressure cooker. Some become aggressive while others become passive or just shut down altogether. Regardless of the reaction, the results are the same – personal and organizational productivity grind to a halt, creativity dies, and momentum vanishes.
Now you can do something about the destructive forces of stress in the workplace. Learn to assess your current reactions to stress so that you can stop worrying and start working up to your full potential.
Here are 5 tips for managing workplace stress:
Show Up Early
There really isn’t a downside to going to work 30 minutes early. Who wouldn’t give up a little bit of sleep for a significantly less stressful workday? You’ll be surprised how much you accomplish in just 30 minutes. You can attack your inbox without other distractions. You’ll have time to thoughtfully respond to messages that came in overnight. And you’ll clear your inbox before the new arrivals start trickling in. Bonus: you’ll be able to savor your morning cup of coffee with a side of peace and quiet.
Maintain a Daily Planner
Let’s face it, laptops, tablets, and smartphones can be distracting and wreak havoc on your time management. Why not let these digital tools work for you and help keep you to a schedule? Think beyond your calendar. Do you have a To Do list that is 20 items long? Plan out how long each task should take, enter it into your online scheduler, and set it to "ping" when you need to move on or take a break. You’ll be more likely to power through until the next alarm.
No matter how much you want to focus, meetings seem like a great time to shoot off an email or see what industry news has hit the wire. Multitasking like this saves us time in the long run, right? Wrong. Chances are you need the information that came out of that meeting and you’ll waste a lot of time chasing it down. If possible, turn your phone off and make sure colleagues know where to find you in case of an emergency. If that’s not an option, put switch your to phone vibrate and put in your pocket—that way you won’t be tempted to check the weather for the upcoming weekend.
Nothing is more efficient at helping you procrastinate than the Internet, particularly social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. But according to a new book, The Power of Habit
by New York Times journalist Charles Duhigg, we can avoid this productivity trap. The key is recognizing why you’re web-surfing. If you just need time to clear your head, scheduling it in will help you stick to five to ten minute ESPN.com or People.com breaks (see Maintain a Daily Planner)—consider them your reward for being so productive all day.
Protect Your Private Time
Smartphones can be great business tools, but they can also feel like leashes tethering us to the office. It’s probably unrealistic to think that you can turn it off as soon as you leave work; however, you can definitely set some boundaries. What are the times at home that require your full attention? What do you enjoying doing? How do you unwind? Designate unplugged time and protect it fiercely. And remember, the more productive you are at work each day, the more you’ll feel you’ve earned this downtime—and it’ll be a great incentive to keep you motivated.