As part of our weekly development, the team often have mini-projects they work on to teach the other staff something that will help them in life and business. Below is a recent contribution from Charlotte Rees our mentee conveyancer.
It's all well and good to say that stress is bad for us, but unlike other things, like cigarettes, chocolate and expresso martinis that we can work to cut out of our lives, a certain amount stress is unavoidable.
Rather than trying to eliminate stress (which can be stressful to achieve) it's far better to manage our stress levels through goal setting and time organisation.
Once we break our tasks for the day into bite-sized pieces then we start to see where we may be placing unobtainable expectations on ourselves and re-evaluate our priorities, delegate tasks out or cut back on time-wasting activities.
With that managed, we can get through any crisis, knowing tomorrow is a new day and we can feel good about stretching up to reach our goals, no matter how lofty they may be.
Managing stress involves identifying your stressors. Knowing what bad habits you need to work on can quickly show you how can you can respond rather than react.
Every situation will be different. Here is a quick table to help you choose the right response:
Avoid the stressor: Say no.
Alter the stressor: Compromise. Understand that 'no' isn't never. It may be, 'let's look at this later'. This is also a good reminder to be respectful of everyone's time.
Adapt to the stressor: Perspective. Reframe the problem. If the problem/stressor is a difficult client, put yourself in their shoes and think about how/why they are responding in that way.
Accept the stressor: If you can't change it, change your response to a positive one rather than a negative. Rise to the challenge, learn a new skill or give yourself a nice reward when you have worked your way past it.
How to manage your stress and time
Start every morning with a plan
Set a goal for what you want to accomplish today. It's good to include both tasks and feelings. For example, today I will finish uploading all the hard copies to Cloud files and feel secure in having our documents recoded safely.
You may even like to set a plan while you are driving to work on how you will attack your day. Reaffirming this to yourself throughout the day aloud or writing it down (even as a sticky note on your desktop) can help.
Eliminate the unnecessary
This is anything that prevents you from reaching your goal. If you feel tired, distracted or restless you might find that the solution is to take a lunch break and go for a walk or take regular short breaks and stand up and get away from your desk for a while or allocate a time in the day where you don't spend as much time on your phone. If you find that watercooler time at work is eating into your productivity then you can do what I do and that's come into work a little earlier each day so I have time to catch up with everyone before I get into my emails and the phone starts ringing.
Learn when to multitask
Some jobs are little and you can do them on autopilot, some jobs require your absolute attention. Knowing the task requirement, timeframes and workload will help determine how to prioritise as well as how much focus you need to put in. Be conservative with your energy!
For example, if the CEO asks you to do something urgently then don't multitask, focus and get that done. When you have a bunch of little and easy jobs, it may allow you to multitask. Recognise that this will be different for everyone. For example, I can't multitask when I'm writing up client quotes. It is super important that that is where my energy and time is focussed.
Know your multitask ability
Multitasking is not always useful. Some of us just can't manage to have our attention scattered across several tasks, and that is okay!
Knowing if multitasking is a strength or weakness is important, for some people it makes their work sloppy or it causes them unnecessary stress. If this is you embrace it and work on one thing at a time and be firm when someone drops something new on your desk, explain that you will get to it as soon as your current task is completed. Figure out which person you are and remember that we all work differently!
Do not be afraid to put your phone on 'Do not disturb'. Everyone can respect that sometimes you need to give your undivided attention to a task. It is helpful to let your fellow workmates know when you are doing this and why. For example, 'I really need to have these write-ups done by 4:00 so I'm not taking calls while I do that. If anyone needs me please take a message and let them know I'll be available later this afternoon.'
If your to-do list is overwhelming and you are already operating at maximum efficiency, ask what things on this list can be given to someone else. Getting help can make all the difference to your stress levels and a little can go a long way.