If you’ve ever worked in an office environment, you are fully aware of how it can become very stressful at times. Offices are typically filled with people who see each other more often than they see their families, so stress is bound to happen at times. Prior to retiring from Corporate America (you can read more about that here), I personally found a few ways to reduce stress at the office and make it a little less taxing. You may be wondering, “why is a fitness coach talking to me about stress at the office?” Because as you may know, stress is terrible for your health, even your waistline! Stress can cause fat gain, increased risk of heart attack and stroke, and generally leave you feeling tired and unhappy. I hope that my tips help you as well as they helped me in the past. I challenge you to try at least three of these steps and let me know how they worked for you!
Eliminate or Reduce Interruptions
Interruptions at work are inevitable; you know you will be interrupted during important tasks. However, if you really sit and consider WHY this is happening, it may be partially your own fault. When someone interrupts you as you’re working on a project, do you create a boundary and let them know that you will get to it when you can but are currently unavailable? Or do you allow the interruption to take place and stop what you are doing to assist that person? I can tell you that I was that person that would allow the interruptions! Interruptions would break my focus, which I had trouble getting focused in the first place, and it would be very difficult to become focused again. It was my behavior that was encouraging the interruptions; I had shown others around me that it was ok to interrupt me. What I had to do and what you will also have to do is start standing your ground. Create boundaries and stick to them in regards to what you will allow in terms of interruptions. If you are focused and busy working on a task and someone interrupts, kindly let them know that you are in the middle of something important, and ask them if you can schedule a time to follow up with them that will work for both of you. Most of the time, people do not hesitate to agree…and what you may see is that the person ends up figuring out the issue on their own prior to your follow up.
Schedule Your Day
Do you typically plan out your day in advance or fly by the seat of your pants? I know I used to simply fly by the seat of my pants. Guess how that affected my productivity? I would forget to do things, do tasks in order that didn’t make sense, and waste a lot of time. Earlier this year I decided to participate in a weekend training course offered by Franklin Covey, which taught me how to properly schedule my day for maximum output. The information I learned transformed my skills with scheduling my time in order of MY priorities, over just scheduling my day over the problems others brought to me. I LOVE using planners and schedule my day every day. For example, tonight I will take 10 minutes and schedule my day for tomorrow. I will open up my Franklin Planner and look at everything that I did not get accomplished today and pencil it into my schedule for tomorrow. This ASSURES that I will not forget any important tasks. I encourage you to start doing this and see how drastically it changes your day! Don’t forget to pencil in some time for YOU; pencil in some short 10-minute breaks and go take a walk or get some water. You will feel less stressed and be more on top of your game! If you’re looking for the perfect planner, feel free to check out the one I use – there is also a discount that will be applied to your order when you use the promo code 26318. 🙂 Ring-bound Daily Planner:
Act, Don’t React
Let me explain what I mean. Think through this situation: you are sitting at your desk and you see an email notification pop-up in the corner of your screen. You immediately drop your task at hand and go open the email. You find that the email is from a co-worker who needs help finding a file in the office file-cabinets. You get up from your seat and go help immediately. When you get back to your desk, it takes you 15 minutes to get back to the level of focus you had prior to this instance. What I just described is what I mean when I say “react.” When you’ve scheduled out your day, you must take care in keeping to that schedule. Don’t react to everything that comes your way, or you will never get anything done. If I need to focus, I turn off ANY notifications that could interrupt my focus. There are settings on almost all email software programs that I know of to turn off notifications. ONLY check your email when you have scheduled to do so to keep that focus you’ve worked so hard for. Acting with purpose rather than reacting to everything coming your way will help you feel more in control of your day, in turn reducing stress.
Take a Walk
When I used to feel my stress start coming on in the office, I would grab my water cup, walk to the break room and fill it up, and step outside for 5 minutes. If weather permitted, I would walk outside and make two laps around the building. If it was too chilly, I would walk up and down the stairs a few times. You might be amazed how much a simple gesture like a 5 minute walk could improve your stress level. Sometimes all we need is a short break away from whatever is stressing us out, so that we can gather our thoughts. Perhaps create a short mantra for yourself to repeat as you enjoy your walk, such as “I am doing the best I can” or “I will not let myself become stressed over what I cannot change.” Give yourself that pep-talk and make your way back inside. You will feel refreshed!
Tidy Up Your Desk at the End of Every Day
What could be worse than coming in first thing in the morning, and your desk still being a mess from the evening before? That sounds like a recipe for immediate stress to me! What I always did was tidy up my desk immediately before leaving every single day. I would put away any files I was working with and file away any papers. I always knew that the next day was already scheduled, and I would pull out files as I needed them the next day. This helped my stress level greatly. Start each day with a completely clean slate!
Your coworkers will drive you crazy at times, but one thing that is helpful to remember is that most of the time, it is NOt intentional. What good does it do for YOU to get upset at someone else’s behavior? People are weird, and this is true wherever you go or wherever you work – it is just a fact! I’m weird! We are all weird. We all do things that aggravate others. Being aggravated by the behavior of others, such as your office neighbor singing or talking loudly, will just create more stress for you. Do your best to block out whatever it is that is bothering you, OR kindly ask them to stop. Like I said, most of the time people do not have a clue that they are doing something aggravating to those around them…so kindly asking them to stop may be the perfect idea. 🙂 As long as you are kind, there should be no resistance. If you experience resistance, simply take it to a manager and let them handle it. Do your best to go into each workday with a light spirit – laugh a little more, smile a little more, play some relaxing or joyful music in your office or in your headphones, and enjoy your day. When you lighten up, those around you will naturally begin to emulate your behavior.
I will be completely honest in saying that when I was in Corporate America, I did truly follow almost all of these tips. Looking back, I realize that there were many stresses I could have avoided by implementing them ALL, especially the last one – LIGHTEN UP. In hindsight, I always look back and realize how I could have made things better for myself and for those around me. My hope for you is that some of these tips will help transform your day and reduce your stress at the office.
Do you have any ways for reducing stress at the office that I didn’t cover? I’d love to hear them! Leave me a comment.