How often do you feel stressed at work? Every day? Once a week? Maybe if you’re lucky just once in a blue moon? At one time or another you will have felt stressed at work. It might be because you’re late for a meeting or you’re feeling unwell. Or it might be because of the most common reason: the belief that you have too much to do.
Have you ever been sitting at your desk, confidently working ‘in the zone’, getting loads done and feeling really chuffed about how productive you’ve been, and then suddenly, out of nowhere, your boss asks for something. Then the phone rings; it’s a client asking a question you can’t answer, so you go and investigate. Then you suddenly realise the meeting you’re hosting starts in five minutes. Afterwards, a colleague catches you in the corridor, so you help them for twenty minutes. Three hours later, you return to your desk to find your inbox is full, you’ve got two missed calls and a message from your boss chasing what they asked for earlier.
It’s easy to get stuff done if we just have three things on our plate. When our workload spirals out of control, we get so worried about getting everything done in time that we tend to lose focus and start making mistakes. It’s a vicious cycle. You rush a piece of work not really in the right mindset, later find there are spelling mistakes because you haven’t taken the time to check it properly, and there’s now something else to add to your workload.
We make mistakes as human beings when we come under pressure and start attempting to multitask. We forget to do things and omit important details. So, when you next feel like your workload couldn’t get any heavier, remind yourself to focus on one thing at a time and finish it before moving onto something else. Put all your energy and undivided attention towards one thing so that you complete it to the best of your ability.
To help you create a mental block so you can focus on that one thing, firstly move your to-do list out of your eyeline, preferably so it’s in a drawer and you can’t get reminded about the other work. Secondly, minimise the potential for distraction. If you don’t have a customer facing role, turn your phone to ‘do not disturb’, switch off your email notifications, and wear headphones as a signal to colleagues not to interrupt you. Thirdly, we all sometimes think of other jobs that need doing whilst we’re working on something different. So, think of your to-do list as an extension of your brain capacity. By writing any fresh thoughts on a post it note (separate to the original to-do list hiding in your drawer!) you’ll prevent your attention and thinking processes from getting clogged.
These three things will help you to simplify your workload and minimise stress. The next time you feel like things are getting out of control, remind yourself:
- Hide your to-do list
- Actively minimise distractions
- Jot random thoughts down on a post it note
Multi-tasking is not the answer to combating stress. Focussing on one thing and completing it fully is.
About Accuracy Skills
We can all improve how we manage feelings of stress at work. It’s something we cover in our open workshop One-day Accuracy Skills, the next of which is in London on 21st November 2018. If you want to guard against stress as a cause of error, improve your attention to detail, check documents properly and not forget to do things, this participative programme is for you. Sign up now by clicking here.
We also have in-house training programmes, Developing an Eye for Accuracy (about reducing data error) and Preventing Mistakes at Work (about reducing human error), perfect for larger groups who want to work more accurately and efficiently. Get in touch with us to find out more by emailing email@example.com.
Accuracy Asides is the name of our accuracy blog
You get to hear about our latest accuracy course results, the real-life 'bloomers' which come to our attention and all the latest news and juicy gossip about errors! We share accuracy tips and advice too.
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