The best survival tactics for an overwhelming workload

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We are all familiar with the work-life, battle.

It has it’s up’s and downs. The up’s are usually promotions, great work recognition’s and so on. The down’s are usually, let’s face it. More work. What I mean by that is when you have so much work, you cant enjoy your job, you simply feel too overwhelmed.

This blog is for the downs.

Here are the best survival tactics, for your overwhelming workload.

1. Try the before holiday rule

Think of how productive you are the day before your holiday. It’s like a Terminator sequel, and nothing is getting between you and those tasks on your list.  You only have one day to get through your giant to-do list and, to those not taking an early flight the following morning, it looks impossible. But you, always manage to get it done. Why? It’s because you apply your absolutely ruthless mentality, against the knowledge that you have only have the present day to complete your tasks and you have the perfect ingredients for prime motivation and productivity. So, the next time your workload is totally overwhelming, apply the before holiday rule and maximise your time.

2. Make yourself un-interruptable

This means, protect your time from your children, boss and even yourself. Before you think of an aimless scroll on social media or having a good old chin-wag with your best friend – remember that you have put in place the very important rule of being un-interruptable and you cannot break the honour of this rule. Set a time limit for your un-interruptable time and stick to it, like your life depends on it. Do your most burdonsome tasks, during this golden hour and feel the endorphins rush through your brain when it ends – as you relish in the satisfiaciton of ticking important tasks, off your to-do list.

3. Make a won’t do list for your busiest days

Whilst, at first glance, this seems counterintuitive. Why on earth would you waste your precious time writing a list of things you won’t do? Well, because it’s actually incredibly helpful. A won’t do list, is a list of things you won’t do because they hinder your productivity. This can be anything you perceive to be a bad procrastination habit, to asking your partner or colleague to support with a few personal/professional tasks, respectively. It keeps your day in check and helps you to get your work done.

4. Prepare the night before

You will be surprised, about how much time you waste, figuring out where to start with your overwhelming workload. If you prepare your day the night before, you can crack on straight away. You also will wake up significantly less stressed, if you know how you are going to attack a busy day. Preparation is key, for everything work-related.

5. Become a morning person

Did you know that the most successful add an extra hour to their day, by waking up earlier. Think about how much you could do in this extra hour when everyone else is busy, sleeping. If you’re not a morning person and feel frequently that you are faced with an overwhelming workload, it’s advisable to try to become a morning person. Set your alarm an hour earlier and see how much less stressed you feel. What harm will one week do? In fact, I suggest none at all, instead you will find huge productivity benefits.

For more on this topic read the helpful blog written by Francesca Rica , here.

How to combat the effects of stress

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Thankfully, according to researchers at Stanford, a meaningful life is almost always a stressful one; the more we care about the things in our life, the more stress we are likely to feel. We simply can’t have one without the other. So, for all of those finding that stress is a daily occurrence – at least it means we are having a meaningful life. Apart from this statistic, there is little advantage to stress only a heap of consequences, many of which, actively reduce the quality of our lives.

But imagine if you could have a meaningful life, with stress (as we can’t have one without the other, unfortunately), that didn’t involve health consequences or unhappiness? Sound too good to be true? Well, actually, it isn’t – we have a lot more control over our stress than we think. Here are the best strategies to overcome the consequences of stress.

Change your thought process 

How you think about stress ironically impacts you more than the actual stress. Positive attitudes about stress were correlated with better health outcomes even when stress levels were chronically high. Interestingly just knowing you can handle stress is a way of protecting yourself from its harmful effects. For more reading on how to rethink stress, see Kelly McGonigal’s Upside of Stress.

Forsee your stress

Don’t let stress throw you into a tizzy. Instead plan when stress might hit you and foresee when it might reduce your ability to be as organised, eloquent or as efficient as you usually are. If you have trouble remembering things or spotting mistakes in your work during periods of stress be aware of this and make extra allowances or time to ensure it doesn’t impact your life.

Let stress motivate you

Stress is adrenalin, that can be put to good use. Rather than letting it crush you – use it to let you crush everything else. Knowing you are putting your stress to good use, or even thinking it benefits you actually helps you to avoid its negative consequences so, it’s a double win.

Social contact

Whether you walk with a parent, chat with your colleague or talk to your spouse during your commute, socialising helps you to cope and feel supported. Irrespective of whether you talk about the stress at hand – simply knowing you have people around you makes you feel stronger and more able to defeat consequences of stress.

Stress can be challenging, especially if you are career driven and ambitious. But, by simply changing your perspective, on how stress fits into your life, you can avoid its negative consequences and even reap a few rewards!

 

For more help with managing stress and anxiety, check out this useful anxiety blog.

5 tips for performing well under pressure

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It goes without saying that in today’s working world we are all under pressure. This is a non-varying characteristic of modern corporations. Forward-thinking companies do care for their employees’ well-being, but it’s also important for employees to know how to handle pressure in order to not sacrifice mental health or work performance. Here are 5 great tips for performing well under pressure.

1) Remember that human beings can perform well under pressure.

We are survivalists, we love a challenge and we like to accomplish difficult tasks that keep us going. If you find yourself working in a pressurised environment it’s highly likley that you are one of the people that succeed rather than fail under pressure.

So, don’t view pressure as a negative, but rather embrace it and see it as an opportunity. You should always pay attention to the nature of the pressure you are under. If you decide the pressure is unnecessary, you should see how you can circumvent the pressure and deal with any associated tasks, in different, more balanced manner.

2) Don’t be a yes person 

A common cause of feeling pressure at work is by taking on more work than you can handle. Only accept work if you genuinely feel you have the capacity. If you know that a task can be done, then take it on. If you think it can’t be done, then you need to resolve the situation (i.e ask for help or delegate) and figure out a way that it can be done without sacrificing your work standard or mental health.

3) Plan ahead and ask yourself, “What if?”

Having a recovery plan or two in mind for if the pressure gets too much, can really help to relax your mind when working up against strict deadlines. Think of alternatives; even if you don’t need them, they will help you to handle pressure well, and you will be ready for the unforeseen, instead of helplessly panicking along the way which only serves to slow down your productivity.

4) Maintain self-control over yourself.

Your reactions to different challenges are part of the learning process, and it is sometimes necessary to take a step back when up against a challenge and asses how you react. Make sure you are in control over your emotions and you are not being overly negative in the work place or at home. If you feel unable to control your emotions then it’s a sign that the pressure is getting to you. In this scenario, it would be a good idea to take a step back or seek appropriate wellbeing help. If you feel you can, speaking to a superior about how your work environment is affecting you, could be beneficial if both of you draw up solutions to combat how you feel.

5) The way you do anything is the way you do everything.

The way that you deal with pressure at work will enable you to deal with the pressure in personal situations. If you can master pressure in one area of your life, you will learn to rise above challenges and grow in every area of your life. Eventually, those times will be a great source of pride.

Life comes with many hurdles and the better you handle these situations the higher your quality of life will be.

This blog was written with the help of Randa Hakim’s useful blog on workplace pressure here

 

 

Nature could be the key to your stress reduction

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We all fall foul to stress. It can hit us at any time and it can really dominate our thoughts for the rest of the day, week or even month. Stress is an indication that you are over-doing it, or that you are overwhelmed by aspects of your life. In today’s fast-paced world, sometimes exhausting hard work, is unavoidable, especially if you’re the ambitious type. However, there is one very interesting and scientifically proven way to help reduce your stress, permanently. It’s called forest bathing or also known as shinrin-yoku, in Japan where it is a very popular method to reduce the stress of urbanized city workers.

Forest bathing for stress – what the science says

A University of Rochester study found that just by simply looking at natural landscapes (as opposed to man-made environments) we feel more generous, connected to others, and in tune with our inner selves.

However when we actually immerse ourselves in a forest, (Japanese studies recommend a 2-hour walk, per week, to see a reduction in stress) the benefits are so much higher. Here’s why:

1. It reduces the stress hormone cortisol (making us less stressed)

Since 2004, the Japanese government has invested some three million euros in scientific research on the therapeutic effects of forests, particularly for stress reduction. Researchers, at the University of Chiba, measured the concentration of cortisol (a stress hormone) in individuals exposed to a forest environment in comparison to those who had remained in an office environment. The researchers found there was remarkably less cortisol in those exposed to the forest environment.

2. It increases our pleasure and empathy towards others

With advanced neurobiology techniques, the scientists were further able to confirm that walking or simply just being in a forest decreases the activity of the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain where cognitive functions focus on activities such as, planning, solving problems and making decisions. Instead, activity shifts to other parts of the brain related to emotion, pleasure, and empathy.

3. It builds our immune system

The immunologist Qing Li, from the Tokyo School of Medicine, has shown that a walk in a forest or a park significantly increases the concentration of a type of white blood cell that contributes to the fight against infections and against cancer. The beneficial effect of the walk of the forest can increase the white blood cells and anti-cancer proteins for up to to a week. According to Li, the volatile compounds emitted by trees are mainly responsible for this beneficial effect on the immune system. This is because plants produce something called “phytoncides”, which have been found, for centuries, to boost the human immune system and are still used and sold in popular homeopathic medicines, today.

Why you should use nature in your life for stress reduction

I heard a very inspiring quote yesterday, by Chris Pratt, a Hollywood actor, “I’m sharing this video….to entice any of you watching this who may feel unease or anxiety with the state of our world. Just breathe, slow down, go outside, find something not man-made and give it a good look“. Whilst I am not one to usually support Hollywood press, or advocate using it to find self-development meaning, this quote showed me that nature is a tool open to absolutely everyone. From the stressed-out single parent, trying to make it work in a demanding career, to Hollywood billionaires. It’s right outside our homes, free and can be found within a few hours of your urbanized city. There really is no excuse to not utilize this tool, to aid with the reduction of your stress.

Read more about the Japanese science of forest bathing here.

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