Therefore, if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, here is a five-step roadmap to getting the work done and minimizing stress:
1. Take a break. Literally walk away. Go grab a coffee or a snack. Take a walk around the block. Chat with a work friend for a few minutes. The point is to clear your head and bring your stress level down a couple of notches. Honestly speaking, if your work is that much, 15 minutes in one direction or another won’t make a difference, so be kind to yourself and step away. Some people even try to clear their head by using some online dispensary weed. Some products found on marijuana websites can relax you, as well as helping to control anxiety. Looking at a website selling these sorts of goods, might be an idea to consider if your work is getting on top of you.
2. Change the scene. If you can work remotely or have access to a business laptop, grab it and go to the nearest café, library, art gallery, public park, etc. with Wi-Fi. Sometimes just breaking the routine and changing things up helps productivity and inspires a different response because you are doing something different. It is also healthy to get outside of the work bubble from time-to-time to realize there is a world beyond work, creating space for you to focus on and prioritize the work accordingly.
3. Don’t take work home. Let’s be honest, we all have a point of diminishing returns, so why work beyond it? It is usually more useful to get a good night’s rest of ideally 7-8 hours of sleep and approach the work fresh the next morning, rather than working like a maniac all day, then taking the work home and doing that until you crash super late. This only results in you doing it all over again the next day without really making a significant impact on your workload.
Instead, studies show that taking much needed down time to spend time with family, hit your favorite gym for an exercise class, watch the latest episode of your favorite sitcom or curl up with a good book leads to higher productivity and job satisfaction. At a minimum, when you work beyond the point of diminishing returns, you must consider the quality of your work output – it won’t be your best no matter what you do. So, sleep, exercise, read, spend quality time with family and friends when at home, just don’t do work.
4. Get organized and plan it out. Though it seems time is the most precious resource when you are overwhelmed with work, take a little bit to create a work plan. Start by prioritizing the tasks you need to get done in order of importance and deadline, then create a to-do list in order based upon your prioritization. Then carve out “DO NOT DISTURB” time on your calendar each day that is dedicated only to completing your to-do list. It might be helpful to freshen up your office before you go into this designated do not disturb state to help you focus. Some people like to use commercial cleaners like green facilities (read more about it here) to help make their office shine so they can focus on their to-do list.
I have found that as I start crossing things off the to-do list, my stress level and anxiety decrease, and my sense of accomplishment increases, which spurs me on to complete more tasks.
5. Don’t be a martyr – ask for help. For most people, this one might be hard to do, but if you are truly overwhelmed and have exhausted your other options, then you’ve got to ask for help. Analyze where you are on a project, figure out what you can get done right now, and then figure out what you can delegate. Then ask for help and let them do what you’ve asked them to do.
Remember, asking for help doesn’t make you weak or incapable. In fact, it demonstrates the opposite – that you are aware of your limitations and understand what needs to be done to complete the project. Also, remember the help can be reciprocal, as in your colleague(s) help you this time and you help them next time when they need assistance.
The state of today’s workplace requires that employees are resilient – we need to know our limits and respect them. Stress takes a toll on us all at different points and in different ways. Finding mechanisms to turn the stress off or re-directing your efforts can help maintain productivity, job satisfaction and general happiness. The key is to be proactive and to listen to yourself, so you can take care of yourself. You are your own best advocate.
Lia Miller is part of the GovLoop Featured Contributor program, where we feature articles by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Contributor posts, click here.