Advertising
Advertising

Stuck in a tight spot: 9 tips for working under stress

Stuck in a tight spot: 9 tips for working under stress

airplane

    Your work environment may not be ideal. In fact, as more and more people work from home, take their work on the road or otherwise explore some flexibility for their work situations, the more likely it is that a person will wind up working somewhere full of distractions, stress and more. On airplanes, doctor’s offices, surrounded by small children — we don’t often have the option of leaving our late until later. The best we can do is find solutions that less us work even under stress.

    Advertising

    1. Headphones Are Your Friend
      It may be an obvious suggestion, but if you can at least block out distracting sounds, you’ll have a much easier time of getting your work done. For most people, noise cancellation is much more important than just masking noise with other noise (and yes, I do mean music). If you work well with music playing, great! Otherwise, white noise or nature sounds may provide you with a better work environment.
    2. Take Regular Breaks
      Working on a laptop or typing on a Blackberry is physically exhausting — there just aren’t a lot of ergonomic options. But if you can take a break at least once every hour and just move around a little bit, you’ll find that you can work more comfortably. Even just walking up and down the aisle of an airplane can be enough to let you stretch.
    3. Breathe Deep
      If you meditate, now might just be the time for some of that calm you’ve been cultivating. A little meditation — or even a few deep breaths — can cut through the stress and let you concentrate on your work. It may not be enough to continually block out the baby screaming three aisles back, but if you can relax enough to work for even a few minutes, you’ll be ahead of the game.
    4. Ask for Consideration
      If you have to get your work done, there’s nothing wrong with asking for a little consideration. Maybe you need a chatty companion in the waiting room to give you a little quiet or maybe you’d like them to move over a seat so that you can spread out some paperwork. No matter what you need, there’s nothing worng with asking for it. The worst that could happen with a “Would you mind..?” is that you’ll be turned down and the situation won’t change.
    5. Eliminate the Distractions You Do Control
      Is your cell phone going off every ten seconds? Even if you can’t eliminate most of the stress in your temporary work place, you do have at least some control. Taking even small steps to reduce distractions — like turning off your cell phone — can help you handle the big ones that you can’t control a little better.
    6. Break Your Work Down Into Small Tasks
      Especially if you’re trying to split your attention between your surroundings and your work — like when you’re waiting for a doctor to call your name — you don’t want to get into your work so deeply that you won’t hear that call. You may even find that you can’t focus that much on big tasks. If you can break your work down into smaller tasks, though, you won’t need to concentrate for long chunks of time, making distractions less of an issue.
    7. Stay Away From Televisions
      It seems like there are television screens everywhere these days: whether you’re at the mechanic’s or in an airplane seat, there are good odds that there is a screen pretty close by. Televisions can be a bigger distraction than many others you might encounter during your day. Your only option may be sitting with your back to a television but even eliminating those little visual cues can help significantly. The constant motion of a television show or ad can grab attention in a way that even people trying to talk to you can’t replicate.
    8. Try Not to Rely on Getting Everything Done
      I’ve known people to assume that they can put in a full work day, no matter where they’re sitting. But we’re creatures of habit: takes us out of our normal work space and our productivity usually suffers until we become accustomed to our new environment. Just because it always takes you a set amount of time to handle a particular project, don’t assume that your time requirements will be the same if you’re working somewhere new.
    9. Have a Plan B
      You run a higher risk of having something not go right when you’re trying to get your work done while other things are happening. Maybe you can’t get an internet connection when you need one, or perhaps your appointment runs over. All sorts of things can happen, bo have some sort of alternate plan in case something goes wrong. Maybe it isn’t the way you want to get your work done — but that’s why it’s a back up plan instead of the official approach.

    I’m writing this post on an airplane. I’m not exactly a fan of air travel, but I’ve gotten used to writing up a post or two while I’m in the air or even in the car. Despite all the distractions, I still manage to get my work done and in on time. That said, I’m always looking for ways to make the process of working in a stressful situation a little easier. If you have tips, please share them in the comments.

    Advertising

    Advertising

    More by this author

    50 Businesses You Can Start In Your Spare Time 8 Replacements for Google Notebook 5 Sites Where You Can Sell Your Photos 7 Tools to Find Someone Online 19 Entrepreneurship Websites Worth Checking Out

    Trending in Featured

    1 Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed 2 12 Rules for Self-Management 3 How to Take Notes Effectively: Powerful Note-Taking Techniques 4 How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators 5 How to Master the Art of Prioritization

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on October 15, 2019

    Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

    Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

    Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

    Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

    There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

    Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

    Why we procrastinate after all

    We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

    Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

    Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

    Advertising

    To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

    If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

    So, is procrastination bad?

    Yes it is.

    Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

    Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

    Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

    It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

    Advertising

    The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

    Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

    For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

    A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

    Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

    Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

    How bad procrastination can be

    Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

    Advertising

    After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

    One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

    That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

    Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

    In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

    You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

    More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article:

    Advertising

    8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

    Procrastination, a technical failure

    Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

    It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

    It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

    Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

    Reference

    Read Next