Many Americans would benefit from finding a way to reduce stress at work. Back in 2019, the New York Times reported that analytics group Gallup found Americans to be “among the most stressed people in the world.” Last year, and a global pandemic later, Gallup ran their annual survey again, finding the same.
This should be no surprise to anyone aware of “The Great Resignation” in 2021. The BBC has reported that unsatisfactory employers played a pivotal role in this exodus, as “companies with bad environments doubled-down on decisions that didn’t support workers, such as layoffs.”
Stress can hamper our productivity in a number of ways, which is why we’re highlighting ways to harness your focus today.
- In the long term, stress can drain your energy levels.
- Stress can hamper creative thought, with “safe” decisions being chosen over original ideas.
- Longer-term stress can reduce focus.
So how do we avoid burnout and reduce stress at work? We’re glad you asked! Here are our top tips and be sure to let us know your tips over on Twitter. We’d love to hear from you!
Focus On Mono-Tasking
Heard of multitasking? Chances are, you have, but did you know that the human brain is much less equipped for it than we’d like to think? In upsetting news to some of us, it turns out that:
- Multitasking actually slows us down.
- It prevents us from getting into flow as easily.
- Multitasking can contribute to the feeling of overwhelm.
When we think we’re doing multiple tasks at once, we’re actually task-switching repeatedly. That’s a big cognitive load as we adjust to the alternate tasks after every switch, sapping us of our needed productivity.
Instead, try monotasking. The opposite of multitasking, monotasking involves laser-focusing on just one job at a time.
- Create your to-do list.
- Rank the tasks using an Eisenhower matrix to determine which ones must happen today.
- Block out time in your calendar to complete each individual task.
- Set a timer and focus on just one task at a time. If anything else comes to mind, simply make a note to come back to it later, but stay focused during your allotted window.
Some dedicated souls have even gone one step further when monotasking at the computer, by adopting the approach of “mono-tabbing.” While most of us have multiple tabs open on our internet browsers or apps open on our desktop, mono-tabbers have just one. It’s meant to skyrocket your effectiveness, perfect for when you really need to get things done.
If you’re working on a task where mono-tabbing genuinely isn’t possible, keep closing tabs as you go instead. It’s tough but so worthwhile.
Reduce Stress By Communicating With Your Co-Workers
So often, we go into our shells when faced with a problem at work.
- We think that saying we’ve found or created an issue will make us look bad at our jobs.
- Often, we worry that our co-workers will reject our request for help even when we don’t know what their availability looks like.
- We convince ourselves that we can address a problem solo, but we waste lots of time in the process.
In reality, the best people to address the challenges we face are our peers and usually, they’d be glad to help. It’s just our own self-doubt telling us not to get in touch.
This is where a TextExpander Snippet can come in handy. If you find it hard to speak up, why not create a series of Snippets to get you started?
- Hi _______, I’m having difficulty with ______ right now. When are you free for a problem-solving call?
- Hey ______, what’s your availability like today? I’m stuck on ______ and would love someone else to take a look at it.
- Hi ______, are you free at the moment? I’m finding ______ challenging and could do with a chat. Let me know.
We’ve made our own Public Group with these Snippets here to get you started, but please create your own, too!
Boost Your Productivity By Taking Your Vacation Days
It sounds counterintuitive, right? Doing less could actually help us achieve more, but why?
According to the research, many Americans don’t take their vacation days. While 73% of the population has access to paid annual leave, just 50% are taking it. Far from being the productivity aid some folks might believe this decision is, there’s evidence that the opportunity cost is “in the billions”.
If you can take your vacation days, the science says that you should! Proper rest can do wonders for your effectiveness at work, with research showing that vacations “boost productivity.” The benefits are many, including improving resilience against stress, increasing creativity, and improving your immune response according to the research.
Forbes has even reported that taking vacation time can “save lives“, by improving heart health and reducing stress. That same Forbes article found that rest “boosts brainpower,” leading to the vital “Aha!” moments that drive creative progress.
There’s a caveat, though; make sure you really are switched off while you’re away from work. 41% of Americans check in with work even while on their travels, but totally switching off is the best option for a brain recharge.
Create Work Boundaries
So many of us end up struggling to reduce stress because we have very poor boundaries, even without meaning to! If you’re unfamiliar with the term, a boundary is often described as an “invisible line” which lets you decide which actions work for your wellbeing and which ones don’t.
Some examples of boundaries could be:
- I ask someone to apologize if they raise their voice at me.
- It’s important that I give myself permission to leave early if I am unwell at work.
- I do not allow others to claim ownership of my work.
Boundaries are powerful, necessary, and as helpful to you as they are to others.
Solid work boundaries let us protect our energy for when we need it most. Instead of stressing out at 11 pm because of a work email, boundaries help us perform at our best in the office, so we can properly rest and enjoy our time out of the office.
If you’re struggling with where to get started, here are some work boundary basics:
- Ask for – or ensure you use – a work phone. Instead of blurring the line between rest and your 9 to 5, a work phone is one you will use only during your work hours.
- Use a work laptop or create different computer login accounts if you only have access to one. Bonus points for giving one a fun name, like “Relax.”
- Commit to consistent work hours. “9 to 5” isn’t reality for many of us; co-workers and clients will continue to expect late-night replies if that’s what you do already.
- Add your reply hours to your status on Slack and to your email footer. This lets everyone know when they can expect to hear back from you; don’t be afraid to limit these if your workplace allows, rather than leaving people expecting a reply at 4:55 when you log off at 5.
- Log out of work social accounts out of hours or delete social media apps. If you’re someone who has access to your company’s socials, don’t forget that browsing them will still feel like work to your brain.
- Say no to additional work if you know you don’t have the capacity for it. If a co-worker has a request and you don’t have the time to honor it, just say no there and then.
- Americans are among the most stressed-out people in the world, but taking simple steps can help you avoid leaving a job you’d like to keep.
- Try monotasking instead of multitasking to help reduce stress. Pick one job and laser focus on it for an allotted amount of time.
- Go further and try mono-tabbing, wherein you keep just one window on your desktop – or one browser tab – open at a time.
- Start leaning on co-workers if you are someone who usually stays silent when things get tough. Use our Snippets to get you started here
- Create work-life boundaries. Commit to specific online hours, communicate those to colleagues, and log out during your downtime.
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