Work is always crazy, right? (Or is that just for me?) You feel so stressed out sometimes, you dread meetings, you count down the days until the weekend. But that’s no way to live! Start practicing these methods for staying productive and reducing your stress level at work. Everybody is different, so all of these might not work for you or for your profession, but these tips are a great starting point for you to begin feeling centered and still get so much done that your boss just might think you deserve a raise. (Because you totally do.)
1. Stay in constant communication with coworkers and clients alike.
Email is a blessing and a curse. It’s less painful than the phone for some and you can read and send it at any time of the day, but since when have you been excited to come into the office in the morning to see your 50 emails in your inbox? To stay in touch with your co-workers and clients, follow these tips: keep it short and sweet; use bullet points; send end-of-day status reports when necessary; and don’t forget to proofread! Also remember that it’s always best to stay in touch so that you don’t encounter any unpleasant surprises–for example, if you find out that a client is having an issue, be proactive and reach out to them and keep them updated regularly on the situation until it’s resolved. Nobody likes to be kept in the dark!
2. Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance and to delegate tasks.
If your plate just feels hopelessly full or if you’re clueless about some task, ask a co-worker to step in. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your boss, either. Struggling under too many projects won’t make you look like a hero, but asking for help–and returning the favor later on–will make you look like a team player.
3. Use a shared calendar to block off time to work on projects or finish heads-down work.
Meetings, meetings, meetings! It pays to reach out and to work together with your colleagues, but sometimes you just have to get things done and that means sitting by yourself, ignoring all distractions, and allowing yourself time to focus. A study by researchers at the University of Calgary even showed that your performance can be impaired simply by having another person working on a different task within your field of vision. So don’t be afraid to take time alone to get work done. My co-workers and I use Google Calendar not only to schedule meetings with one another but also to block off times during the day when we need to devote ourselves to solo work. You can even set aside time each day to work on the same project or repetitive tasks to help the work go by more quickly!
4. Use tech to help you stay organized, but when in doubt, keep it simple with pen and paper.
There is something therapeutic about writing out notes by hand. There’s much to be said for a kinesthetic learning style too. Take notes by hand during meetings if that’s your thing. Grab some pretty gel pens and a cute notebook and keep a to-do list each day. Sure, it might grow throughout the day, but you’ll feel so good when you cross something off! Make sure to add the date to all your notes so you can revisit them later.
5. Take a break.
Studies show that taking regular, short breaks can help you be more productive. Especially if you’re starting to feel your stress level rise (I can tell when my eyes begin to feel bloodshot) or the project you’re working on is just giving you a headache, take some time to get up and make a cup of tea or check in on your co-worker down the hall. Check out this post for some more tips for staying active at the office: How To Exercise When You’re Short On Time.
To optimize your performance, work in uninterrupted 90-minute sessions, followed by a 10 minute break. According to Florida State University researchers, the most elite musicians, athletes, actors, and chess players tend to practice in 90 minutes at a time.
Finally, just remember to take a deep breath, sit back and relax for a moment if you need to. Yes, your work is very important, but don’t let yourself get so carried away that you forget to take care of yourself. You need to love yourself to be your very best!
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