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Aug 07, 2019 | 4 Minute Read

Working Too Hard? Here are 3 Ways to Lessen Stress at Work

stressed out man with laptop

Who doesn’t feel overstressed these days? Let’s face it, we live in a “right now world” where people want results, well, right now. Everyone is seemingly in a hurry and there are no signs of things slowing down anytime soon. So how do you keep up with the demands of a right now world? 

The key simply lies in being able to effectively manage a few key areas of your life. These areas include: time management, adapting to others’ communication preferences and creating a team of allies who can help you get the job done.

It takes a concerted effort to try to move away from bad habits into habits that will better serve us. It may be as little as doing one thing per day in the beginning, and working up from there. But as long as you are heading toward your goal, instead of away from it, you are making progress and on the road to success.

 

Focus on your 3 most critical priorities

According to Lea McLeod, M.A., of The Muse, people who complain about an oversized workload often times just have a time management problem. Their days are filled with time and energy wasters. McLeod says, “Work avoidance, procrastination, multi-tasking, and distractions all sidetrack essential work, add stress, and make any workload seem bigger than it is.”

She recommends completing a simple, but effective, task each day. Divide a sheet of paper into two columns. On the left, write down your biggest priorities, the things that truly matter and move the needle for your company. Your list should have at least three priorities, but no more than five. 

On the right side, keep track of the actual work you performed and how long that particular task took. See how much time, by percentage, you are spending on your important tasks versus everything else. 

If you find a lot of your time is spent doing tasks other than those that are most important, you may be suffering from workload inflation. If you find you are spending the right amount of time on your key tasks, you’ll feel more accomplished about your work and it will give you a sense of satisfaction knowing you are effectively managing the workload. 

In any case, going through this exercise will give you a more thorough understanding of how you are spending your time throughout your workday, shedding insight on where you might be able to get some of that valuable time back. 

 

Adapt your communication to fit the audience

When it comes to getting people to rally around your cause, communication is the key. The best line in McLeod’s blog was the one that stated “It’s not your audience’s job to interpret your message. It’s your job to communicate in a way that your audience will understand.” Stop and think about that sentence for a moment. How many times are we talking to someone, already formulating our response when they are only half way through what they are trying to say? Most of us are guilty of doing this.

When we do begin to communicate, are we just responding or are we trying to really get through to that person, on their level? Have we considered their communication style and, if so, have we adapted ours to make that person more receptive to what we have to say?

Here’s an example. When using the behavioral model of DISC, there are four main behavioral styles: dominance (direct), influence (social), steadiness (stable) and compliance (rules/process oriented). If someone with a high-I style comes in the room and begins to talk at length in the presence of a D or C who is trying to complete a task, it may not be well received. However, if that person took a moment to ask if he/she could have a moment of their time, then succinctly discussed what was needed, the high-D and the high-C would be much more open to the message being delivered. 

For the process driven high-C, good communication involves providing as many details as possible and being willing to answer any questions they may have. Communicating with the high-S needs to be done in a non-urgent way and in a manner that doesn’t require the person providing an immediate answer. Give this person time to gather his/her thoughts and make an informed decision after having time to process the information. Don’t rush them. 

Making these types of communication adjustments can be a total game changer in accomplishing goals. The more relate to the person to whom you are communicating, the more likely you will achieve the outcome you desire.

 

Nurture workplace relationships

There’s a lot of collaboration in today’s workplace. The better you get along with your coworkers, the better chance for success you will have. If you have someone’s back, chances are they will have yours when you need it most. 

Creating these workplace relationships takes a true, concerted effort. It may mean setting time out of each week to do something that puts you out of your comfort zone. This may include inviting someone you wouldn’t regularly associate with to grab coffee or lunch. Or, it may be as simple as noticing a job well done and telling the person what a fine job they did. 

McLeod also encourages us not to hold on to workplace conflicts, whether real or imagined. She says, “If you sense conflict between yourself and another coworker, don’t avoid it. Instead, invite this person into a conversation to discuss and resolve your differences. This quickly eliminates undo stress, puts your energy back into things that matter, all while building self-confidence. 

 

Conclusion

Think of how much different your work situation may be if you put the effort into adjusting these three important, but relatively simple, areas of your life. Pick one of the three areas and do one small thing today to improve how you work, specifically with others. You may not notice a huge change immediately. However, it won’t take long until a few months have gone by, you’ll look back, and realize just how far you’ve come. Every journey starts with a first step, take that step today.

 

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Dave Clark
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