Schedule appointments. Make that 12:00 lunch with the stakeholders. Check in with your boss. Prep for the call with your boss. Hit your goals. Meet that deadline. Put out that fire. Ensure the client is happy. Update your work progress. Jump on the 3:00 conference call. Make a checklist of the 10 new to-do items that stemmed from the conference call. Sound familiar?
Workplace stress can take a huge toll on your career success and personal health. The good news? It can be managed.
According to The American Institute of Stress, workplace stress is the leading stressor for American adults, so learning to manage your workload and professional attitude are key to reducing stress or anxiety.
I work in sales and account management. I’ve mentioned before that my job is very challenging, but because I have learned the key to a good work/life balance, I find it enjoyable and rewarding.
Here are a few tips on what I’ve learned works for me to manage my career-related stress:
1. Wake up early & take your time getting ready.
This may not seem high on your priority list, but I promise it makes all the difference in the world. When I was fresh out of college (and a few years after that) I would wake up with just enough time to shower and run out the door. If I hit any traffic, I was inevitably going to be late to work. I left no room for error…or breakfast for that matter. My day began with stress before I even arrived at the office.
These days, I wake up early. I ensure I have enough time to walk the dogs around the block (unless it’s freezing), shower and do my makeup, make a solid breakfast, and drink 1-2 cups of coffee while reading my morning devotional. Don’t get me wrong, there are still days I wake up later, but I’m quickly reminded of the stress that brings to the beginning of my day. It’s just not worth it. Side-note: I also suggest getting 7-8 hours of sleep so waking up early or a mid-day crash isn’t a severe struggle.
2. Come in to a clean and organized office or work space.
You guessed it. This means cleaning up at the end of each work day. I have a home office and a “car office”. If either of those spaces are messy, so is my head. It’s difficult to be truly productive when the space I’m working in is disorganized. I spend the last 10 minutes of each work day putting everything where it belongs. Receipts, files, business cards, computers, supplies – you name it, I find a place for it. This does two things for me. First, it allows me to shut off my work brain, almost as if I am physically telling myself I am finished for the day. Second, I come in feeling refreshed the next day, reducing any stress at the beginning of the day.
3. Work a full 8 hours.
You may be thinking – duh. Hear me out. I can’t speak for all careers, but in sales, especially outside sales, it’s easy to slip into the habit of working 4-6 hours or running an errand or two during the day. I have talked with countless friends, who also work in sales, and we unanimously agree that this leads to feeling guilty, unproductive and stressed out. Becoming disciplined in working a full 8 hours, focused and goal-oriented, has led to feeling overall happier in my life.
Even if you work into a different field, making sure you’re spending your time at the office working, and not on social media, will make a huge difference in the way you feel leaving work each day. And of course a by-product of working with this discipline will lead you to becoming more productive.
4. Make a priority checklist and keep track of progress.
This is a key component in both increasing productivity and decreasing stress/anxiety. When you make a list and prioritize what needs to get done first, you’re essentially helping your brain stay on track while reducing the margin for errors. I’ve found checklists help me feel accomplished, thus motivating me to do the next thing on my list. Lists also aid in the survival of my ADD mind. I don’t get stressed that I will forget to do something, because when I add something to my list, I am confident I won’t forget to do it.
Before making checklists, I was very counterproductive. For example, I would receive an email or a phone call, and in an attempt to not forget what was asked, I would drop everything I was doing and respond to the person or fulfill the request. I was not prioritizing my workload and was getting behind on projects I stopped midway through due to a request that did not need immediate attention.
5. Leave work right where it belongs – at the office.
I’m well aware this can’t happen all the time. There are weeks I am essentially “on call”, but for the most part, when I’m done for the day – I’m done. This is crucial if you want to experience less stress at work. I’ve learned it’s better for not only myself, but also for my company, when I choose to shut off my work brain and enjoy my evening. When you develop a healthy work/life balance, you’re helping block the workplace stress from seeping into your personal life. In turn? You’ll experience less burnout, more energy for the next day and an overall improved attitude toward your career.
I hope this works for you. (See what I did there? haha) Comment and let me know if you have any tips which have helped you manage your career!