“Much of the stress that people feel doesn’t come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they’ve started.”

– David Allen

Last Quarter of the year. It’s the time of the year when everything is at stake. Companies are rallying for more revenue to achieve fiscal targets, employees are back in the business after enjoying summer vacations with their dear ones, and are ready to take Q4 challenges. And the first problem they come across is to face the feeling of stressed out at work. How can we overcome it in a more efficient way? We are going to tell you that in the following four proven tips.

1. Discuss priorities and expectations with your managers

“A leader’s job is not to do the work for others, it’s to help others figure out how to do it themselves, to get things done, and to succeed beyond what they thought possible.”

– Simon Sinek

The best way to deal with workplace stress is to address priorities of all assigned tasks with your managers and to know their expectations for each. Sometimes employees are so used to their routine work, that they don’t reach out their managers, and hence, they fail to set up priorities and in turn fall short of achieving their goals. In such scenario, the not-so-important tasks take precedence over the critical ones and consume most of the productive time. Therefore, it is always beneficial to talk to managers about all assigned tasks for a day or a week, flag potential issues in each task, and get realistic expectations for deliverables for each task, so that you can arrange your daily schedule more efficiently and free up yourself from multiple deadlines. Don’t forget your superiors can be a good source of information (mostly they are!), and you can always ask their help in setting up priorities, avoiding potential roadblocks, and addressing stress related issues.

2. Prioritize tasks

“Sometimes it’s important to work for that pot of gold. But other times it’s essential to take time off and to make sure that your most important decision in the day simply consists of choosing which color to slide down on the rainbow.”

Douglas Pagels

“You can do anything, but not everything.”

– David Allen

We have already mentioned task prioritization in #1 briefly. But this tip deserves an altogether a separate point as it offers a sustained solution to stress at work. People who do not set up priorities often find themselves missing deadlines or rushing everything at the last-minute. Therefore, it is vital to set up priorities for the day, week, and month to complete the assigned activities without any hustle and promptly.

Use following three-point method while setting up priorities –

  1. Set daily To-Do list: Use Post-it® notes, notepads, daily journals to make a list of things to do. Keep them in front of you and mark ‘x’ as you complete them one by one. It’s an excellent visualization tool, as the ‘x’s on the paper will inspire you to take on to the next challenge. Read this book to learn more on the power of using simple checklists The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right
  2. Set up weekly calendars: Use the weekly planner to break down bigger tasks into weekly activities.
  3. Set up monthly goals for bigger projects.

While setting up the priorities among various tasks, keep in mind the importance of each task, how critical it is to the success of overall goal, and how time-consuming it is.

3. Make use of morning hours to complete tedious tasks.

“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”

– Benjamin Franklin

Why are mornings such a big deal? Why do successful people give credit to the early mornings?

The most efficient way to deal with tedious, painful tasks is to finish them at the beginning morning. Once you address the difficult tasks first, you will feel more satisfied with your work later in the day. This technique is nothing but manipulating your mind with the experience of tackling the arduous task, so once it is out of your way, you will feel relaxed while performing comparatively easy tasks. Additionally, mornings are quiet, calm and more focused; and hence are more productive!

4. Build downtime into your daily office schedule

“Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.”

– Ovid

When you plan your day or week, schedule downtime to do things apart from your work that help you recharge. Go out with colleagues for a coffee, cut yourself from the computer screen and walk around for few minutes, or listen to your favorite music. You will feel refreshed and more energetic after taking these small breaks. Plan these things in your daily schedule, so that you will have something to look forward to along with an incentive to complete next tasks in the pipeline.

Here are few things that you can try during the downtime.

  • Walk around the block, look at the greenery around. Do you know looking at green color help you relax?
  • Get coffee, drink plenty of water to boost your metabolism.
  • Use stress ball for stress relief.
  • Listen to your favorite music; read books, blogs, magazines, or online content; write something apart from work emails e.g. daily journals (or maybe start writing a book?)
  • Talk to colleagues to know how they deal with stress issues. Ask them what is working and what isn’t  working for them.
  • Play fun games (Nerf guns anyone?). Many companies provide indoor/outdoor sports ground and free sports club memberships to keep their employees active and healthy. Make full use of these facilities.

Now the big question you might have is – How can I compensate for the lost time? Here are some tricks –

  • Leave office early (maybe an hour earlier than your usual time) and take a small chunk of your unfinished, least important office work home and finish it later in the evening. Utilize this intentionally built downtime to do personal things – workout, spending time with family, watching favorite TV shows, etc., which will be an incentive for you to work later in the evening.
  • Postpone non-critical, unimportant tasks to finish them on the weekend. Yes, you heard it right! Working Saturday, Sunday or both days can be good for you. It can lower the stress level during the week. That’s awesome, right?

If you experience any signs or symptoms of stress, you must take action before you cause serious damage to your health. Try one or all of these four stress-busting tips the next time you feel your stress level spike.

We would like to hear from you. Do you experience workplace stress? How do you deal with it?  Post a comment here to let us know or drop us an email if you want. We are eager to know your ways of coping with the stress issues.