Peerfear.orgFear for no peers!
Three Key Shifts to Manage Overwhelm at Work
It’s easy to get overwhelmed at work. Work keeps piling up and you feel as if you don’t have enough time to get it all done. By making a few shifts in your daily work, you will not only reduce your stress and overwhelm but will create better results. Working “in the flow,” being responsive rather than reactive, and expanding your perspective are all critical to the quality and output of your work, as well as your well-being on the job.
It's easy to get overwhelmed with your to-do list at work. You're probably managing several tasks or projects at once. Work keeps piling up. You feel as if you don't have enough time to get it all done. You're stressed and there's no end in sight. A recent survey published by the Center for Disease Control reported that more than 80% of professionals experience high levels of job stress. A lot of it has to do with the overwhelm they feel with their amount of responsibilities and tasks. When you're feeling overwhelmed, it affects the quality and output of your work and, at least to a certain degree, determines how successful you are. Here are three key shifts you can make to reduce overwhelm and start working with ease: 1. Shift from "pushing" to "flowing" When you experience overwhelm at work, your tendency may be to keep pushing, believing you can get through it using the "no pain, no gain" mantra. When you're "pushing" to get as much done as possible during the day, it usually leads to more stress and can be counterproductive. The physical signs of "pushing" include leaning forward, tensing, shallow breathing and clenching your jaw. When you notice these signs, simply pause and step away from work for a bit. Get a glass of water, take a few deep breaths, stand up and stretch. Take a moment to notice why you are pushing ("I'm unclear," "I am angry," or "I need more time") then see if you can get to the root of the problem so you can move back into the "flow" (you know that feeling like everything is lined up and work becomes easier). As you shift away from pushing and towards flowing, you'll notice a lightness in your body, mind and spirit. You can then resume work on your task or project with a renewed sense of energy and focus. 2. Shift from being reactive to responsive With the pressure of deadlines and commitments, it's quite easy to be reactive to your environment and those around you. However, if you feel reactive most days, it can be overwhelming and exhausting! The difference between being reactive and being responsive is simply the level of engagement you bring to a situation. Going into overdrive doesn't help the work get done faster; it merely adds to your sense of overwhelm and reactivity. Typically, the body will experience higher respiration rates, a faster heartbeat and more body tension when you're being reactive. It's much more productive to be responsive to whatever projects, interactions or situations you encounter at work. It's helpful to rank a task or project for the appropriate level of engagement (i.e. "this needs all of my focus and energy" vs. "I don't really need to stress about this"). As you shift away from over-engagement and reactivity and towards responsiveness, you'll experience much more ease at work. Being responsive in your work setting will help you effectively complete tasks and calmly interact with people on the job. 3. Shift from a limited to an expanded perspective When you're overwhelmed, it's difficult to see the many options that are available to you. Seeing things in a narrow-minded way limits your opportunities and can cause you difficulty in navigating change and other potential challenges that come up in your work. Shifting from a limited perspective to an expanded perspective involves looking beyond the "ways you've always done things" to create new options that reduce stress and overwhelm. You may want to research ways that other people handle their challenges. Try introducing a new process or idea into your work that expands your perspective to increase your or your team's productivity. Ease occurs as you expand your perspective, include other options and consider new ways to approach work. Using these three shifts in your daily work will not only reduce your stress and overwhelm but will allow you to create better results. Working "in the flow," being responsive rather than reactive, and expanding your perspective are all critical to the quality and output of your work, as well as your well-being on the job. May you know joy, may you know peace and may you work with ease.