Blog: Simplify Your Life
Rooting Out Hidden Frustrations At Work
Feeling overloaded at work is never a good thing -- but it's doubly frustrating when you don't even know what's causing the stress. Something's just not right, but you can't quite pinpoint the problem. I'll give you a hint -- the number one reason for work-related stress is an inability to draw healthy boundaries. This can show up in a variety of ways -- look at your work day and see if any of these situations feel a little too familiar.
Do you find it hard to focus, to stay on task, to actually see a project through to completion -- because someone is always stopping by your desk with a question? First it's your boss, asking for another report by the end of the day. Then it's your secretary, wanting clarification on the details of that meeting you asked her to set up. And finally, it's a drop-in client who was hoping to grab a few minutes of your time before lunch. No wonder you can't get your work done -- when you spend all day putting out other people's fires!
You might assume that you have no control over your time when you're on the clock, but this just isn't true. You can stop an interruption before it completely derails your day, if you are proactive. You simply have to be the one to say, "I'm in the middle of something that I really need to finish. Can we schedule a time to talk this afternoon?" Let the person know you want to give him/her your full attention and that can't happen right now.
By deflecting an interruption until later, you not only give yourself the freedom to finish the task at hand, but also time to prepare for that meeting before it happens. You'll be able to take care of the problem more efficiently and effectively when you aren't caught completely unawares. It also sets an important precedent with your co-workers and clients. You're letting them know that not only is your time valuable, but also that their time is important to you, as well -- you're treating them with respect by addressing their concerns at a time when you can give them your complete attention.
Taking On Too Much
Another type of self-induced stress comes from being a "yes-man" -- jumping in too quickly to offer your services whenever anyone asks for help on a project. Could be participating in a meeting or serving on a committee, could be gathering data for a co-worker who is up against a deadline, could be running an errand for your boss. You want to be helpful, and that's a good thing -- the problem is that now you're behind on your own work!
There is nothing wrong with assisting a colleague, but you need to get your priorities straight. Your work comes first -- and when you don't even have time to stay on top of that, you don't have time to volunteer. It is entirely acceptable to tell a co-worker (and even a boss) "no" -- just explain that you need to finish the project you're working on first, then you would be more than happy to pitch in. Again, you have to draw the line -- no one else will draw it for you.
Staying Glued To Your Desk
Americans are notorious for thinking that more is better -- and this is certainly true in terms of work hours. Are you one of the many millions who work through lunch, stay late trying to catch up, and maybe even sacrifice weekends or vacation days for your job? You think that putting in more hours than anyone else is going to help you get ahead more quickly -- but in the end, you actually end up being less productive than if you'd headed home on time for a good night's sleep. As the old saying goes, you can't fill anyone's glass when your pitcher is empty. Pushing yourself harder and harder without a break isn't going to help you be more effective -- it's just going to cause you to burn out faster!
Time off is an important way to recharge your batteries -- so you come back stronger, more alert, and more ready-to-go the next day. Vacations and lunch breaks and leaving the office on time are actually powerful productivity tools! If you want a long and fruitful career, you have to learn how to work with a sense of balance -- an understanding that you need time away as much as you need to focus while at your desk. Get out of the office for lunch, get up to stretch a few times during the day, take a walk -- and most of all, keep your evenings and weekends for yourself. I promise that in the long run, you'll not only reduce your stress -- but you'll also find that you're even better at your job.
Of course, it goes without saying that a disorderly office causes stress -- loose items left sitting out are a distraction, having to search for a lost document in a massive pile of papers on your desk wastes valuable time, and missed deadlines due to disorganization can throw you into a panic. How are you ever supposed to get anything done when you're surrounded by clutter?
This may not seem like a boundary issue at first -- but it is. I'm going to bet that the issue isn't your not KNOWING how to organize all those stacks -- but your failure to take the TIME to do it. Once you've got your fabulous filing system set up with color-coded folders and easy-to-read labels, allow yourself the time to maintain that system. Set aside 15 minutes at the end of each day to put everything back where it belongs -- a clean desk is a good first step toward a peaceful tomorrow morning. And take time at least once or twice a year to purge your files and clean the junk out of your desk -- your stress level (and your boss) will thank you.
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posted on: 11/29/2011 11:30:00 AM by Ramona Creel
category: General Organizing Tips
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Simplify Your Life
by Ramona Creel
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I have been a Professional Organizer for more than 10 years, I am a NAPO Golden Circle member, and I was the original founder of OnlineOrganizing. I have worked one-on-one with scores of clients and have trained dozens of newbie organizers as they got started in the industry. I provide both hands-on and virtual coaching to help clients improve their organizing skills and simplify their lives. I invite you to visit my website at http://www.RamonaCreel.com, and I challenge you to find one new idea that you can put into practice in your life, to help you become better organized, starting TODAY! I am passionate about coaching folks toward a more balanced, productive, and enjoyable life -- and I firmly believe that if I can do it, so can you!
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