We all get a little crazy on the job every now and then. From moms at home to on-call response teams, there are ways to limit the craziness and typical work day stress. Once you trade the temporary high of battle scars and constant adrenaline, you may find that you actually enjoy your job more than you realized.
Feeling overwhelmed at work today? Try some of these 20 Ways to Simplify Your Work Life:
- Know what you’re capable of. If you’re confident in your ability to do your job, even emergency meetings can’t stress you out.
- Don’t repeat any gossip you hear. If you can detach yourself from the gossip chain, you cut the majority of the drama out of your work days. This is also one of the 25 Things to Stop Doing Today at Work.
- Create an enjoyable lunchtime ritual. Listen to music, read a book, picnic on the grass, or just enjoy your leftovers. Let your mind calm down and mark the day’s halfway point.
- Keep contact information easily accessible. Any phone numbers that could be urgent should be kept close at hand in a single location. Day planner, cell phone, Outlook contacts, or index card: do whatever works for you, but keep that information available to avoid turning routine calls into desk-tossing panics.
- Clear your desk of anything that’s not necessary, like stacks of catalogs, outdated correspondence, and yesterday’s tea mug. Keep a personal memento or two on your desk, but make sure the items add meaning to your life, like a family picture or an object that makes you smile or reflect. Read Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.
- Always have an update for your supervisor. Always. Even if it’s something trivial, be ready to answer the “What’s new around here?” or “What’s going on in your department today?” question. It’s a great way to build trust.
- Shorten your task list. I like to keep two task lists, one for ongoing things that need to be handled at some point and one for what’s on the docket today.
- Be honest when you prioritize. Do what’s most important first, no matter how unappealing it may be.
- Ask for help sooner rather than later. No one likes getting IMs from the “I have a big presentation this afternoon and need some help” guy. Don’t be him. Most people are willing to help, but deserve to have their schedules respected.
- Volunteer your help before you can be commandeered. Jump at tasks that interest you and excel at them.
- Take the initiative to find useful tasks to fill extra time. It takes about as much energy as trying to find new ways to waste time and it boosts your job security.
- Drink water instead of coffee or soda all day to avoid energy spikes.
- Use applications that are compatible across all computers you may work on. You never know when you’ll need to switch, so save yourself the stress of having to download new software for the crusty backup computer at the last minute.
- Smile. People are nicer to you and more patient when you smile.
- Get supplies that fit your needs. Quality supplies can cut down on injuries, save time, and slash your stress. In many cases, it’s worth a few extra dollars to get the tools you need to do your job instead of trying to fit your job to the tools at hand.
- Cop to your mistakes. Cover-ups are complicated and throw your integrity into question. Own up early and often and you’ll find yourself apologizing a lot less in the long run.
- Leave your personal life at the door when possible. Instead of getting caught up in the battle for whose weekend was the coolest or who’s running on the least sleep, smile a private smile and leave it at that. (This is probably the one thing that has saved me the most drama, time, and stress. “Smile and stay out of it” works every time. And it drives gossips crazy with curiosity.)
- The recycle bin is hungry. Feed it. If there’s only a marginal chance you’ll need a piece of paperwork, consider chucking it, especially if it’s information that is available in any other format or place.
- Spend some time each day on deadline-oriented tasks and some on high interest level tasks. You get everything done while staying engaged with your job. (Keep a tickler file for the interesting tasks to stay focused.) This will lead you to becoming an expert in your industry.
- Do your job. Seriously. Handle your responsibilities without complaint and be the person no one has to micromanage. When you’ve got the trust of your team, it’s amazing how much simpler your work life can become.
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