Organise Yourself & Watch Your Stress Levels Drop Away
Top Wellbeing at Work Tips from Stress Specialist, Annie Lawler of Breathing Space for Business
How we organise ourselves affects your performance at in and out of work. You can be forgiven for wondering what organisation has to do with stress levels as in the business world, wellbeing, stress management and so on have had a reputation for being ‘soft skills’ which are difficult to measure. However there are some very sound reasons for caring about health at work which directly affect the bottom line – and how ‘soft’ is that?!
The point is that if we feel good in ourselves and our work environment, we manage our work carefully and feel in control, we are going to perform better and will enjoy work more. If we perform better and enjoy work more, guess what? Results improve and there’s more opportunity to enjoy the rewards of what we do and we relax and are more productive.
Personal organisation can have a huge effect on our stress levels. What may take a minute or two now can save half an hour or more at a later stage when we may be under even more pressure.
A cluttered, disorganised living and/or working space for example causes stress in a number of ways:
¨ because its difficult to find things
¨ because it wastes valuable time
¨ because the environment is chaotic
¨ because it has an effect on our psyche
¨ because other people can’t find things in your absence and so on.
So, avoid keeping things ‘in case they come in useful’ unless you have somewhere where you can store them out of the way and sort through them regularly. Usually they sit in a file for some time and eventually get thrown out anyway, so be ruthless and get rid of the clutter!
One tip I heard was to clear everything on your desk that’s on the front, right hand side - it’s a scarily good tip in my experience!!
File as you go along – it may take a few minutes now, but it saves oodles of time searching through different piles at critical moments and a lot of panic and stress. Also, if you always put the same things back in the same place, you’re less likely to lose them and can save valuable time.
Put important personal as well as work things in your diary and any online or palm versions of this. You’re less likely to arrange something which clashes with it, avoiding the guilt that goes with that and you’re more likely to stick to it!
Clear away unnecessary clutter. Do you really need those mascots on the desk? Maybe you just keep one precious item and put the rest away. You could change the mascot depending on your mood, but limit it to one at any one time.
Another sure way to relieve stress is to get the things you don’t like doing out of the way first and then reward yourself! Procrastination is a sure sign of stress and can be an additional cause of it. In fact it’s a double whammy because you don’t want to do things in the first place and then, if you put them off, they’re always lurking at the back of your mind. They also have a nasty habit of escalating if they’re not attended to, so do yourself a favour and deal with them as a priority. You can then get on with the things you enjoy and find rewarding.
It’s good to remember that there are times when it’s appropriate to use the ‘n’ word. And yes, I mean no!! Or in the words of my partner, ‘hit the ball back’. We often cause ourselves avoidable stress by accepting responsibility for everything we are asked to do. As a consequence, we find ourselves running around like a mad thing trying to please everyone. Often the result is that we please no-one and run ourselves ragged in the process!
When we want to get ahead or curry favour with friends, family and employers we can often find ourselves committing to things without thinking the implications through. We then have to rush around re-arranging our lives and worrying about how we’re going to get everything done to fulfil our commitments to numerous individuals.
Before committing to another person, take a few moments to look at how realistic the latest ‘demand’ is and if it is likely to cause problems, recognise it straight away and suggest alternative solutions.
Our concerns are often that people will not like us or will think we’re weak or incapable if we don’t say yes to every request. However, organising your commitments and negotiating alternatives shows control and careful management, which means you can be trusted and relied upon. It also avoids letting people down by doing a poor job or missing deadlines and meetings.
There can often be distractions in the workplace – phonecalls, chats with friends and e-mails. These are all great things, but they do need managing so that you ensure you do what needs to get done in that day. Every time you find yourself being distracted from something you have started but not finished, take a deep breath and ask yourself, ‘Is this really what I need to be doing next”. If it isn’t then go back to what you were doing and make a note to go back to the other item later.
Making ‘To Do’ lists can be great but can cause stress when you see the length of it. You can’t possibly expect to get all these things done in one day, so prioritise your list and make a short one that contains only what is most important to get done TODAY. Ticking them off or deleting them from your list as you complete them is very satisfying and you can feel the stress leaving you as you complete these urgent items.
Sometimes manual lists are better than digital ones, as those constant reminders that you keep putting back, can create unnecessary stress.
Remember to take a few minutes break every hour. It makes you more efficient! Accuracy can improve by up to 15% with regular breaks of just 3 minutes.
Make sure you take steps every day to reduce stress through better organising yourself and keep a short journal every day of the successes and improvements you notice, so that you can look back and see how much progress you’ve made.
About Breathing Space for Business
Breathing Space for Business helps employees and employers work together to maintain healthy stress levels and helps individual clients get back in the driving seat & to make the right choices to lead happier, healthier, more fulfilling lives, through positive and proven stress management techniques. We offer 1-2-1coaching & counselling, hypnotherapy, 'Quick Fix' half-hour sessions in stress management techniques, seminars, teleseminars and holistic therapies.
For details on the best way for Breathing Space for Business to help you get back on track and enjoy life to the full, visit www.breathingspaceforbusiness.com or call on 0772 581 8884.
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