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

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

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    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.

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    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.

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    Last Updated on February 25, 2020

    Face Adversity with a Smile

    Face Adversity with a Smile

    I told my friend Graham that I often cycle the two miles from my house to the town centre but unfortunately there is a big hill on the route. He replied, ‘You mean fortunately.’ He explained that I should be glad of the extra exercise that the hill provided.

    My attitude to the hill has now changed. I used to grumble as I approached it but now I tell myself the following. This hill will exercise my heart and lungs. It will help me to lose weight and get fit. It will mean that I live longer. This hill is my friend. Finally as I wend my way up the incline I console myself with the thought of all those silly people who pay money to go to a gym and sit on stationery exercise bicycles when I can get the same value for free. I have a smug smile of satisfaction as I reach the top of the hill.

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    Problems are there to be faced and overcome. We cannot achieve anything with an easy life. Helen Keller was the first deaf and blind person to gain a University degree. Her activism and writing proved inspirational. She wrote, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

    One of the main determinants of success in life is our attitude towards adversity. From time to time we all face hardships, problems, accidents, afflictions and difficulties. Some are of our making but many confront us through no fault of our own. Whilst we cannot choose the adversity we can choose our attitude towards it.

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    Douglas Bader was 21 when in 1931 he had both legs amputated following a flying accident. He was determined to fly again and went on to become one of the leading flying aces in the Battle of Britain with 22 aerial victories over the Germans. He was an inspiration to others during the war. He said, “Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you can’t do this or that. That’s nonsense. Make up your mind, you’ll never use crutches or a stick, then have a go at everything. Go to school, join in all the games you can. Go anywhere you want to. But never, never let them persuade you that things are too difficult or impossible.”

    How can you change your attitude towards the adversity that you face? Try these steps:

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    1. Confront the problem. Do not avoid it.
    2. Deliberately take a positive attitude and write down some benefits or advantages of the situation.
    3. Visualise how you will feel when you overcome this obstacle.
    4. Develop an action plan for how to tackle it.
    5. Smile and get cracking.

    The biographies of great people are littered with examples of how they took these kinds of steps to overcome the difficulties they faced. The common thread is that they did not become defeatist or depressed. They chose their attitude. They opted to be positive. They took on the challenge. They won.

    Featured photo credit: Jamie Brown via unsplash.com

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