Destressing Your Mind At Work During The Holidays
We live in an over-worked and over-stressed time. Que the holidays and you may be on OVERLOAD. Your work-life is no exception.
Work is what makes many of us so stressed and it’s what leaves us with so little time to do anything else.
Time to put a stop to that.
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But how do you make sure that you get through that to-do list when your mind is on other things like: putting up holiday decorations, buying gifts, planning the perfect holiday meal?
The first thing you need to do is to remove multitasking from the equation. Studies show that it simply doesn’t work in a workplace environment.
The simple reason for this is that activities that require our mental faculties don’t enable multitasking.
What you think is multitasking is actually sequential tasking – you’re quickly switching from one task to another and back. This takes up more mental energy and less work gets done overall.
Instead, set out the tasks you need to do and then work through them in order until they’re all complete.
This means that you should start your day with a to-do list. And there’s a definite art to coming up with a to-do list. Tim Ferriss, author of the Four Hour Workweek, talks about having one task that he absolutely must-get-completed that day and then completing that. Everything else, he considers to be ‘extra’.
This is generally the best attitude to take to any list of objectives. Complete the biggest and most important task first and then move onto the smaller ones.
The reason this is so important is that the biggest task is going to take the most time, the most focus and the most energy. It’s also going to give you the biggest sense of satisfaction once ticked off.
If you complete all the smaller tasks first, then you risk taking up a lot of time with switching between tasks, answering emails and setting things up.
This can end up taking longer than you think and then not leave enough time to complete that one ‘big task’ that you needed to finish. As a result, the day ends and you’re left feeling stressed.
Ahhhh...now, doesn’t that feel better already? Once complete, then you can start to focus on all those pesky holiday tasks after 4pm and already feel good about everything you’ve accomplished so far in the day.
Now you have just one big task to complete during your work day, you should stand a much better chance of getting into a ‘flow state’. The idea is that by focusing on one job that you need to complete, you can eventually get into a state of mind where you’re able to shut out all outside distractions and work in a fast and focused manner. This results in the best work and also allows you to get through the task without procrastinating.
The most important key to being able to get into a state of flow, is to make sure you remove distractions and things that can break your concentration.
And the number one culprit? Email.
Email at work is one of the things that is most responsible for causing us to become distracted and stressed and as soon as we start responding to emails we can find ourselves getting into a ‘reactive’ mindset as opposed to a ‘proactive’ one. Now we’re working to someone else’s agenda instead of our own and that means we’re less likely to complete the tasks we set for ourselves.
One important tip is to make sure that you complete at least a certain amount of work before you even look at your emails. I know it sounds crazy, and I know many people start their day with email, but Iset out to create this habit just to see what would happen. You know what? It was insanely effective. I felt refreshed by the time I got to my email. I felt a sense of accomplishment and was able to focus more on what others requested of me. Most importantly, I was less stressed.
So, start your day by sitting down and making a ‘gentle start’ on that one big project. Now set yourself a goal. If you have to write 6,000 words today for instance, then tell yourself you won’t make that first cup of tea until you’ve completed 2,000 words. And you won’t look at emails until you’re on 5,000 words.
Suddenly, you’ve changed your regime in order to put the pressing work first. The psychological impact of having this much work ‘under your belt’ cannot be understated and because you have made such a start, you’ll find it’s much easier to just jump back into work.
By the time you’ve answered those emails, you’ll now have completed a huge amount of work and be well on top of your daily tasks! Meanwhile, having a ‘goal’ to work to can act as great motivation.
Reducing Communication Overhead
Communication overhead is the negative impact that lots of meetings, emails and phone calls can have on your productivity. When you’re in a meeting, you aren’t working and when you’re on the phone, you’re not working!
To get around this, try to keep unnecessary communication to an absolute minimum. You can reduce this in a number of different ways.
For instance, if you find yourself in a lot of long phone calls, consider asking people to email instead of calling. Alternatively, preface your phone calls by telling the person you’re speaking to that you only have five minutes so you’ll need to get straight to business. They may offer to call back, but simply say ‘no it’s okay, but we’ll just have to make it quick’.
As for meetings, consider discussing with your manager whether you really need to be present for meetings. Try skipping one to begin with and explain that you have a lot of work to finish and that you feel your time could be put to better use in other ways.
You should now have all the tools and knowledge necessary to start organizing your mind and organizing your work. It’s time to finally feel like you can stay on top of things and plan that holiday gathering afterall!
If you are looking for a productive place to work with little distractions, stop in for a tour! Our inspired workplace will ensure you get the most out of your day!