The summer season is winding down; retailers are beginning to discount their seasonal products, families are getting in one last getaway, and kids are going to be heading back to school. The beginning of Fall can feel a bit hectic, so it really comes as no surprise that August 1st-7th is Simplify Your Life Week. This two-part series will discuss simplifying your life both at home and at work.
Chances are that a significant portion of your waking hours are spent at work, so if your work life feels stressful, chaotic, and disorganized, you’ll feel stressful, chaotic, and disorganized. While you may not be able to completely control your work environment, there may be a few small changes that you can incorporate.
Assess Your Own Workload Before Saying “Yes” to More
If your company is like most others, then you’re probably, either formally or informally, assessed on how willing you are to go above and beyond your job description to ensure things run smoothly. However, it’s important to remember the balance between fulfilling your own obligations and going beyond to help out with additional tasks and projects. Before agreeing to take on a special project, consider your current workload and determine whether the added work will allow you to maintain maximum effectiveness.
Make a Few Rules
Once upon a time, you worked when you were at, well, work. However, for most people, the work doesn’t stop when they exit their workplace. We’re always connected via our laptops and smartphones, making it all too easy for coworkers and bosses to contact us at any moment of the day. In fact, many bosses actually expect to be able to shoot out an email at 11 p.m. and receive a prompt response.
If necessary, you can start small, but incorporate a few boundaries. For example, maybe you’ll decide that you’ll stop accepting work calls and turn off your work phone and computer at 8 p.m. on work days and not accept any calls at all on your days off.
Don’t Get Caught Up in Drama
Where there are people, there will be drama. While it’s important and hopefully even enjoyable to socialize with your co-workers, it’s also very easy to find yourself in the middle of office politics. Avoid that by socializing with different groups of people, and stay away from negative talk altogether.
Don’t Work Through Your Breaks
It seems counterintuitive, but taking breaks throughout the day improves your productivity; in fact, this is the scientifically backed argument that many make on behalf of the six-hour workday. Our brains can only handle so much work before disengaging from a task, so the longer the stretch that you work, the less you actually end up accomplishing. While you may assume that you’ll get more done if you work through lunch and skip those 15-minute breaks, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll accomplish more.
Especially if your job involves a lot of repetition, your checklist is your best friend. Checklists keep you focused and on track, particularly during those days and weeks when you’re tired and have a lot on your plate or you have a tight deadline to meet.
You may not be able to easily change your career, but you can change how you operate within it. Minimize stress by making a purposeful effort to become more organized, set boundaries, and give your space the physical and mental space that you need.