I’ll be honest, lately when I get stressed out at work or have an overload of projects on my board, I go home knowing that I will probably fall right into a work inspired dream that will leave me tossing and turning all night. That’s if I’m lucky enough to fall asleep. I try my hardest to avoid these outcomes but sometimes the brain does what it wants. I feel as though I’m always trying to find more time in my day to help myself feel more accomplished so when I arrive home the anxiety is set aside for the night. My friends and teammates know that my mind is always on overdrive and that I try numerus remedies to feel calm. But reality is, there’s just never enough time in the day to do everything we want. As an individual who is personally affected by managing my stress, it’s important for me to understand that it’s alright to only have 8 hours in my work day. But I need to remember how to manage those 8 hours of personal chaos to avoid disturbing my teammates, customers and overall have a healthy lifestyle afterwards.
I’ve learned a simple routine over the past couple years that has helped me control my stress levels. If you’ve been trying to calm down after a long day and nothing seems to work, take the last hour of your shift to do these simple steps. When you don’t have a clear understanding of the many things happening around you, you tend to feel panicked. The goal is to feel like you’re in the knowing so that you’re mentally prepared. The below may sound overly organized and anxious, but every time I follow this list I never again walk back into work like Doctor Krunklehorn.
1. Respond to all outstanding emails and voicemails.
Make sure all communication is in the clear so that you do not feel anything is left open and unanswered. In other words, complete the thought by answering everyone back.
2. Follow up on the status and progress of current projects
Reach out to your fellow teammates and customers to see where they’re currently at with their projects, especially if you’re involved in the next or upcoming steps. This will give you a clear understanding of when it may show up in your schedule so you’re not surprised. This will prepare you to leave enough time to complete your end of it as well.
3. Recap your dates
Go through your active jobs and refresh yourself when they’re due. You will constantly feel on top of your schedule because you’ll know you’re not behind. And if you happen to be, you’ll know how to do the next step correctly.
4. Make a list for the next day; order them from high to low priority
Every day I make an updated ‘To-do’ list. This list shows every project I have active to complete in the order it needs to be completed by. Visually this is a nice reassurance that I’m completing my work but at the same time I’m mentally reassuring myself that the higher priority rush jobs are going to be on time because they’re on top of my list. Too many individuals get wrapped up in the wrong project at the wrong time which will put you into a panic to complete what’s actually due tomorrow.
5. Review upcoming meetings
The last things I check are my upcoming meetings and events. I want a clear understanding of when I may have to stop working in order to attend what is also mandatory. By knowing how many other activities I have to attend and certain times in the day, I can forecast how many hours I have to complete what’s important on the to-do list.
6. Look over, rehearse tomorrow
Once the list is complete for the next day, I rehearse how I will approach each step so that I stay on top of my schedule. When I wake up in the morning and make my commute, I’m not stressing over what needs to be completed because I’m ready to go with a plan in mind.
Just breathe! You’re doing the best you can and each task will get completed.
8. Take a Break.
The most important step (other than breathing) is to take a break once you get home from work. Do not check your email, even put down the phone if you’re able to. Immerse yourself into personal projects so that you return to work feeling like you actually did leave for the evening. If you keep your mind running on work related topics, you’ll never be able to calm down for rest. If this is a hard task to complete, make plans for your evenings so that you’re forced to walk away for a while.