This time of year is particularly busy at work. We have stacks of work piled on all available surfaces and there’s a continuous stream of chaos that often gets to be too much. This past week has found me feeling overwhelmed on several occasions. However, unlike in previous years, I’ve been able to intentionally take action to combat these feelings. Seeing how far I’ve come has been incredibly encouraging.
I wanted to share some of my daily schedule, along with some tips that have helped me actively combat stressful situations.
I arrive each morning a little before 8 am, a few minutes before we open up. I’m alone for the first 30 minutes or so and play instrumental music on low while quietly working on tasks from the previous day. My current playlist consists of piano arrangements from the Final Fantasy XV soundtrack (I haven’t played the game but the music is beautiful). This is also when I’ll make myself a fresh cup of coffee.
We get the largest influx of work in the morning. This is when the overwhelm starts to set in. If I don’t do anything about it, it gets progressively worse. But if I take action, it helps immensely. Here are a few tips.
1. Write out a to-do list.
When faced with a huge amount of work, its easy to get overwhelmed. When this inevitably happens, I pull out a notepad or a blank document and write out all the tasks I need to accomplish in order of priority. I always include meals and snacks on this list too (by putting food on the same level as work, I’m less likely to neglect feeding myself). Writing down everything that’s floating around in my head dispels the panic and gives me a game plan to focus on.
2. Stay on task.
Throughout the day, people will always give me more work. If its something urgent, I’ll do it immediately. However, 95% of these tasks aren’t, so I’ll move them to the side of my desk and write them on the bottom of my list. They still get done before the end of the day, but I don’t allow them to interrupt what I’m currently working on. I used to drop everything and work on every new task that came along, but that only lead to frustration. By sticking strictly to my list, everything gets done and it keeps me mentally organized.
3. Avoid distractions.
There are always going to be distractions, especially when you work on a computer. I check my social media and personal email on my lunch break, but otherwise I won’t even keep an internet window open. I also keep my desk as clean as I can. I have my glass of water, lip balm, and a few office supplies in front of me but the rest go into my drawer. I’ll only keep one stack of work on my desk at any one time, otherwise I get easily overwhelmed.
4. Monitor my energy.
I try to monitor both my energy and mood periodically to determine whether I need to take a break or grab something to eat. I always keep a glass of water or herbal tea on my desk and will refill them when needed. By checking in with myself every hour or so, I can usually circumvent complete overwhelm and exhaustion by taking breaks when I need them and staying well fed and hydrated.
These are just a few things that help me on a daily basis at work. Do you have any additional tips or tricks for beating overwhelm?