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15 Minutes to Workplace Sanity

15 Minutes to Workplace Sanity


    Ever have one of those days when you’re just completely overwhelmed? Too much to do, not enough time. Deadlines looming (or whizzing past), phone ringing, emails pinging.

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    Just everyday life for a lot of us.

    And most days we manage to roll with it, deal with things as they come up, and get along just fine.

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    Some days, though, the clamor of multiple competing demands on our time, energy, and attention can be just too much to bear. We feel overwhelmed and out of control. It can paralyze us — dozens of things to do, and we do none of them, because we don’t know where to start. We fight the urge to just quit — crawl under our desk and hide, hoping it will all go away.

    Quitting isn’t an option, though, and fortunately, it’s not necessary. In fifteen minutes or less you can take a few simple steps to retake control, overcome the panic, move forward, and regain workplace sanity. So when it’s all too much but you must get it done, try this:

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    1. Close your eyes for one minute and just breathe. Grab hold of your mind, block out the screaming voices of panic, and purposely focus on just breathing in and out. Notice where you’re feeling tense, and intentionally relax those muscles. Slow your breathing, calm your mind. Just take those sixty seconds to reclaim quiet and peace.
    2. Clear your workspace. When we get too busy, our workspace usually reflects the clutter of our minds. Our carefully prepared organizational systems go by the wayside; we leave papers on our desk or on the kitchen counter as reminders to do something, and pretty soon the desk or counter is a mass of piles and sticky notes and reminders. Whether or not you consciously recognize it, the chaos of those piles distracts you and makes it nearly impossible to focus on anything. So take five minutes to clear off your workspace. Don’t sort or file anything unless you can do it in seconds. Toss the trash, drop the dirty dishes in the kitchen sink, and stash the piles of papers in a nearby drawer or shelf for later attention. If you’re afraid you’ll forget something important, take a second to schedule an appointment to tend to those stashed piles. Your immediate objective is to create a clear, clean, distraction-free space for focused working.
    3. Take five minutes to write down everything that needs to get done. Use whatever method works best for you to capture everything. I rely heavily on technology, but when I’m in this situation, I prefer old-fashioned pen and legal pad. Don’t try to organize or prioritize the tasks; just do a brain dump. Part of the anxiety you feel is a fear that you’re forgetting something, so get it all there on paper in front of you.
    4. Scan the list. Is there anything there that somebody else could do? Your secretary or assistant? A colleague? Your spouse or child? This is no time to be too proud to ask for help — remember, we’re in crisis mode here. Take five minutes to offload anything that reasonably can be delegated.
    5. Is there anything on the list that can be put off until tomorrow (or the next day) without knocking the earth off its axis? Take one minute to check off those tasks that don’t truly have to be done right this minute. Circle the ones that do need immediate attention.
    6. Choose one of the circled tasks. Don’t spend a lot of time agonizing over priority. Just pick one. If there’s something that can be done in a couple of minutes — responding to an email or returning a phone call, maybe? — do that and enjoy the catharsis of seeing your list begin to dwindle immediately. But the main thing is to just pick one.
    7. Clear everything else away, and do it. Gather the materials you need for that task, then sit down and get it done. If it will take more than half an hour or so, considering using the Pomodoro technique: set a timer for 25 minutes and work steadily until the timer goes off. Then take a five-minute break — stretch, walk, get a drink of water — and then get back to work, with the timer set for another 25-minute segment. Keep up that approach until you’ve finished the task.
    8. When you finish that task, cross it off the list and choose another. One item at a time, work through the list until you’re caught up.

    I know this approach works, because it’s saved my workplace sanity numerous times in my own professional life. I’d love it if you’d give it a try and then let me know how it works for you.

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    (Photo credit: Meditating in Office via Shutterstock)

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    Laura McClellan

    Passionate about encouraging women in their roles as wives, mothers, friends, and workers.

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    Last Updated on January 3, 2020

    The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

    The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

    Are you waiting for life events to turn out the way you want so that you can feel more positive about your life? Do you find yourself having pre-conditions to your sense of well-being, thinking that certain things must happen for you to be happier? Do you think there is no way that your life stresses can make you anything other than “stressed out” and that other people just don’t understand?  If your answer is “yes” to any of these questions, you might find yourself lingering in the land of negativity for too long!

    The following are some tips to keep positive no matter what comes your way. This post will help you stop looking for what psychologists call “positivity” in all the wrong places!  Here are the ten essential habits of positive people.

    1. Positive people don’t confuse quitting with letting go.

    Instead of hanging on to ideas, beliefs, and even people that are no longer healthy for them, they trust their judgement to let go of negative forces in their lives.  Especially in terms of relationships, they subscribe to The Relationship Prayer which goes:

     I will grant myself the ability to trust the healthy people in my life … 

    To set limits with, or let go of, the negative ones … 

    And to have the wisdom to know the DIFFERENCE!

     2.  Positive people don’t just have a good day – they make a good day.

    Waiting, hoping and wishing seldom have a place in the vocabulary of positive individuals. Rather, they use strong words that are pro-active and not reactive. Passivity leads to a lack of involvement, while positive people get very involved in constructing their lives. They work to make changes to feel better in tough times rather than wish their feelings away.

    3. For the positive person, the past stays in the past.

    Good and bad memories alike stay where they belong – in the past where they happened. They don’t spend much time pining for the good ol’ days because they are too busy making new memories now. The negative pulls from the past are used not for self-flagellation or unproductive regret, but rather productive regret where they use lessons learned as stepping stones towards a better future.

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    4. Show me a positive person and I can show you a grateful person.

    The most positive people are the most grateful people.  They do not focus on the potholes of their lives.  They focus on the pot of gold that awaits them every day, with new smells, sights, feelings and experiences.  They see life as a treasure chest full of wonder.

    5. Rather than being stuck in their limitations, positive people are energized by their possibilities.

    Optimistic people focus on what they can do, not what they can’t do.  They are not fooled to think that there is a perfect solution to every problem, and are confident that there are many solutions and possibilities.  They are not afraid to attempt new solutions to old problems, rather than spin their wheels expecting things to be different this time.  They refuse to be like Charlie Brown expecting that this time Lucy will not pull the football from him!

    6. Positive people do not let their fears interfere with their lives!

    Positive people have observed that those who are defined and pulled back by their fears never really truly live a full life. While proceeding with appropriate caution, they do not let fear keep them from trying new things. They realize that even failures are necessary steps for a successful life. They have confidence that they can get back up when they are knocked down by life events or their own mistakes, due to a strong belief in their personal resilience.

    7. Positive people smile a lot!

    When you feel positive on the inside it is like you are smiling from within, and these smiles are contagious. Furthermore, the more others are with positive people, the more they tend to smile too! They see the lightness in life, and have a sense of humor even when it is about themselves. Positive people have a high degree of self-respect, but refuse to take themselves too seriously!

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    8. People who are positive are great communicators.

    They realize that assertive, confident communication is the only way to connect with others in everyday life.  They avoid judgmental, angry interchanges, and do not let someone else’s blow up give them a reason to react in kind. Rather, they express themselves with tact and finesse.  They also refuse to be non-assertive and let people push them around. They refuse to own problems that belong to someone else.

    9. Positive people realize that if you live long enough, there are times for great pain and sadness.

    One of the most common misperceptions about positive people is that to be positive, you must always be happy. This can not be further from the truth. Anyone who has any depth at all is certainly not happy all the time.  Being sad, angry, disappointed are all essential emotions in life. How else would you ever develop empathy for others if you lived a life of denial and shallow emotions? Positive people do not run from the gamut of emotions, and accept that part of the healing process is to allow themselves to experience all types of feelings, not only the happy ones. A positive person always holds the hope that there is light at the end of the darkness.  

    10. Positive person are empowered people – they refuse to blame others and are not victims in life.

    Positive people seek the help and support of others who are supportive and safe.They limit interactions with those who are toxic in any manner, even if it comes to legal action and physical estrangement such as in the case of abuse. They have identified their own basic human rights, and they respect themselves too much to play the part of a victim. There is no place for holding grudges with a positive mindset. Forgiveness helps positive people become better, not bitter.

    How about you?  How many habits of positive people do you personally find in yourself?  If you lack even a few of these 10 essential habits, you might find that the expected treasure at the end of the rainbow was not all that it was cracked up to be. How could it — if you keep on bringing a negative attitude around?

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    I wish you well in keeping positive, because as we all know, there is certainly nothing positive about being negative!

    Featured photo credit: Janaína Castelo Branco via flickr.com

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