How to Stay Calm at Work

Picture this. It’s Tuesday afternoon at 5:30, you are about to leave the office. You have literally been non-stop. You ate lunch at your desk. You barely had time to pee. As you are leaving, you are mystified as to how it is time to go. You were so busy but you got nothing accomplished from your to do list. How is this possible?

I spent so many days like this. Living for my inbox and the phone calls I was getting. Most of us have a ton of priorities at work, so many that it can be hard to get everything done. With so many companies downsizing and relocating roles to lower cost locations, employees are expected to do more work than ever with much less support. So how do you make sure you are getting things done and shining so that you are recognized?

Prioritize

You have to stop saying yes to everyone, like immediately. You don’t have time to get everything done. Just stop, it’s not possible. No, really - I’ve tried! You have to prioritize to get the most important and urgent of your tasks done first. Type A’s - this may mean that you don’t reach inbox zero everyday and you need to learn to be OK with that. If you need some help with what to prioritize, think about what absolutely needs to get done now. Your boss’ request or boss’ boss are likely going to be number one. You are going to have to learn to accept that. Will some people be annoyed? Absolutely! If that bothers you, check out this article.

Aside from higher up requests, consider if there are financial or legal implications to what you are working on. If you are having trouble determining what is the most important tasks in your job, take a look at the peers of yours that are being promoted and your leadership team. What are they focused on? They have done what you want to do. Even if you don’t like them, they know how to succeed.

Quit People Pleasing

This one is so close to my heart. I have dealt with this my whole life. I want every.single.person to like me. What I mean by this is that you have to quit caring what your peers think of you. Don’t do anything mean or underhanded, but you can’t worry about them liking you. There are going to be times in your new way of working where you will have to tell your peers no so that you can get something more important done and that’s OK.

They may be annoyed with you and even start talking about you behind your back, but if someone is going to do that to you why do you care? The best colleagues cheer you on when you are trying to do your best, not attempt to bring you down. You should be cooperative and help them where you can, but you need to put your priorities first. Cheer on your colleagues when they are doing well and focus on your goals.

Boundaries

Ah, boundaries. For a recovering people pleaser like myself, I have been working on boundaries for years. You need to have boundaries in place to keep yourself calm when it comes to work. Determine a time when you shut down work and collect yourself. If you are “on” all the time, eventually you will burn out. Trust me, I have been there a few times. PschCentral has some great tips to separate work from your life including knowing your values and communicating clearly. If you have a boss or company that doesn’t value your boundaries, you have the power to change.

Make a morning routine where you have time alone for yourself. My favorite time of day is when I first wake up. No one in my family is awake and it gives me time to think, exercise and make my goals for the day. Despite all the many articles recommending an early rise time, I do not get up at 5:00 to do this and I don’t plan to. I need at least 8 hours and think sleep is important for our health. I get up at 6:30 and have plenty of time for my morning. Take a look at your routine and see if you can make some slight changes to give you a few more minutes. Trust me, put the phone away and you will discover some time!

Gratitude & Goals

I am a huge proponent of mindset and its effect on how happy we are. I spent the first 30 years of my life being super pessimistic. I changed my thinking and the last 5 have been an amazing change. Has my life changed that much? Not really. The changes have more to do with my gratitude for what I have in my life and enjoying the journey.

If you want to get started on becoming more grateful for what you have, pay attention to your thinking. The first thing I did was to start paying attention to my thinking. Inventory your thoughts and pay attention to how many of them are negative. Psychology Today recommends a method called BLUE where they focus on thoughts that blame yourself, look for bad news, unhappy guessing and being exaggeratedly negative. When you feel yourself thinking these negative thoughts, counter them with something more positive or neutral.

These tips have helped me go from dreading going into work everyday to being happy with where I am. I work full time in a role I enjoy and I work part time on my passion. You can stop hating Mondays and be happy with your life. As much as I want to reach my goals, I am loving the journey to get there.