Let’s face it. Although many of us love our careers and our chosen industries, work and our workdays can be undeniably stressful at times. I think I speak for most of us when I say that sometimes it feels like there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done — especially if you value your personal and social life.
I — admittedly — haven’t been in my field as long as many of my peers. However, years of working full time while also attending graduate school full time has armed me with a few helpful techniques to help manage stress and an overwhelming workload.
1. Perfection Is The Goal, Not Always The Reality
Of all of the workplace sins and pitfalls, it’s this one that I’m guilty of the most. I think it’s easy to get bogged down in the minute details of things in an attempt for “perfection”. However, too often, the quest for perfection leads to spending too much time on one project, well after the towel should have been thrown in. Rather than “giving up the good for the great”, sometimes you have to “give up the perfect for the great” and move on. Establish time deadlines BEFORE starting major projects if it helps you to “put things down”
2. Prioritize. Prioritize. Prioritize.
Clearly establishing priorities is key to managing an overwhelming workload, no shocker there. However, being able to effectively modify and reorganize those priorities under stress is the difficult part. Often projects that are time sensitive take precedence over the projects that are essential to your duties, however both are important. Create a tracking system, physically or mentally, to make sure that both are being handled effectively.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Delegate
It might just be me, but I feel like I often take imaginary ownership over tasks or projects that I feel are “mine”. And while this does allow me to feel like I’m an important part of the daily operations of my office, it sometimes gets in the way of more important things getting done.
Don’t be afraid to relinquish tasks that may or may not be “your thing” in favor of tasks that are actually more important or require more effort.
4. Find Your (Happy) Place
Once, in a yoga class for beginners, I had a teacher tell me: “if you don’t think you have time to meditate, what better time than right then?”. And while everyone in the class laughed, probably because of how ridiculous the idea sounds — it actually carries more weight than it seems to at first.
Meditation has been proven to not only reduce stress but to also sharpen focus and encourage mindfulness or awareness.
If you find yourself overwhelmed or your stress levels rising, step back and simply take 3-5 minutes to find your “happy place” — whether that be a physical location or simply a mental state. Taking the time to simply focus on your breathing, or simply to think of the positive moments of the day can truly make an immense difference.
These are a few of the methods that I’ve tried to incorporate into my every day throughout the years. What are some methods that have helped you?