Resolutions For Reducing Stress At Work

I love my job–I really do–but it can be very stressful. There are court deadlines that can’t be missed, unexpected client “emergencies” that can  hijack an entire day, and meetings that prevent me from actually getting any work done.

My desk may never look like this:

work stress

But my in-box often looks like this:

work stress

One of the things that weighed heavily on my thoughts over the holidays was my stress level at work, and what I might be able to do about it. I decided that I need to make some resolutions for reducing stress at work–and then work really hard to keep them.

  • Stop multitasking.  I know that multitasking is sapping my energy more than it is increasing my productivity, but it is a hard habit to break. With dual monitors and pop-up notifications, it is difficult to ignore new emails that come in while I am working on something else. I knows those “three second” distractions add up, break my concentration, and make me feel fragmented. If I have both monitors showing screens relevant to what I am working on, I will finish my project more quickly and then can give my email my full attention. If my project will take more than a few hours, I can take designated email breaks.
  • Complete one project before starting the next one. My days can be full of interruptions, and I am tempted to handle new requests right away if I think I can complete them quickly (reviewing a draft, signing a letter, etc.). This often means that I will have several files open and in-progress at once, and several interrupted projects that I will have to re-orient myself to when I return to them later. Unless a courier is waiting for me to sign something that has to go out immediately, new items can wait until I finish what I’m working on, or at least get to a good stopping point. But, I still will answer the phone if it’s a client calling ….
  • Deal with emails right away. I try to deal with emails right away, so I don’t waste time scrolling through my in-box to find the one(s) that I need to read again or respond to. If I don’t need to respond, I read and delete. If I need to respond later, I set a reminder/flag which moves the email out of my regular in-box stream. If I will need to refer to the email later, I will move it to a folder. At the end of the day/week/month, I review the emails that remain in my in-box, and see if they can be deleted, flagged, moved, etc. But, this process doesn’t work as well as it could if I am “glancing” at my emails as they come in. (See resolution #1.)
  • Take notes. I need to get better at taking notes during all telephone calls. When I am on a conference call, I process the information and understand the next steps, but if the matter isn’t urgent or if I get interrupted before I take care of it, I can lose track of details. If I take notes–even if I don’t think I need to (and this is key)–then I won’t have to spend time wracking my brain to remember those details.
  • Take breaks. When my in-box is stacked a mile high, it is tempting to put my nose to the grindstone and work straight through, but I know that’s not healthy. Now I have my UP band to remind me to move at least once an hour, and I am still trying to “beat the buzzer” by getting up before the idle alarm goes off. Plus, taking a few minutes once or twice a day to step out to Starbucks gives my eyes a break from my computer, lets me get a few breaths of fresh air, and stretches my leg a bit more than a walk down the hall to speak with my assistant or refill my water bottle. 😉

Is your job stressful?

Do you have any tips for reducing stress at work? 

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15 Responses to Resolutions For Reducing Stress At Work

  1. MIZ says:

    for me the biggest BEST THING is NO MORE MULTITASKING.
    MIZ recently posted…If one woman told the truth…My Profile

  2. Great tips! I’ve been working on “batching” over multi tasking, too. I always feel like I’m being productive when I multi task but I’m realizing it’s not true!
    Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted…Some exciting news…My Profile

  3. I need to cut down on the mulittasking at work too. Stay focused, work hard and then take a break. Starbucks is great motivation 🙂

    Have a great week! recently posted…Run This Year 2014My Profile

  4. My job can be incredibly stressful. Actually, it’s not my job. It’s some of the people I work with. I can’t change them so I need to change the way I deal with them and that will help the work stress tremendously.
    Jill @ Fitness, Health and Happiness recently posted…P90X3 Fit TestMy Profile

  5. Rebecca says:

    Complete one project before starting the next one.
    I definitely need to hear that from time to time. I have a bad habit of getting bored with my current project and jumping around. But then it makes it that much harder to go back to the original project, especially if it’s something you don’t want to do. Now I try to get the least desirable tasks out of the way first so I can focus on the things I really want to do!
    Rebecca recently posted…Darby Smart – A Giveaway!My Profile

  6. Tara Newman says:

    Great ideas. Definitely no multi-tasking. That isn’t productive. I have a motto Focus and Finish. I am in Human Resources and I get a lot of employee interruptions. If I notice I have “frequent flyers”, I manage their expectations of my time by asking they make appointments with me. I also block out time on my calendar for my critical tasks. I do a review of my day and next morning before leaving the office for the night.
    Tara Newman recently posted…How to be a More Supportive Spouse, Part 3My Profile

  7. Great post! I’m so guilty of trying to do ten things at once… I am much more efficient when I focus on one thing instead of ten…
    Noelle @ Noelle’s Notebook recently posted…It’s All About the Benjamins; Running on A BudgetMy Profile

  8. Kim says:

    The dual screen thing stresses me out!! Chris has that kind of set-up at work and for Christmas we turned his home office into a dual monitor set-up, too. Yikes!!!
    I hope that your steps to reduce the stress help!!!
    Kim recently posted…I Have a Secret to ShareMy Profile

  9. I always deal with email ASAP and try to keep them organized.
    Abby @ BackAtSquareZero recently posted…Score One For Mental HealthMy Profile

  10. Seriously, I need to do all of these things – particularly #1 and #2. Like right now, I sat down to complete one thing and instead, I’ve done about a million things instead. Multitasking and not completing one thing before moving onto the other is totally my downfall!
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted…Friday Round-Up: Resolutions, Habits, and LoveMy Profile

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