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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)

    More by this author

    Laura McClellan

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

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    Last Updated on March 24, 2021

    8 Smart Home Gadgets You Need in Your House

    8 Smart Home Gadgets You Need in Your House

    We’ve all done it. We’ve gone out and bought useless gadgets that we don’t really need, just because they seemed really cool at the time. Then, we are stuck with a bunch of junk, and end up tossing it or trying to sell it on Ebay.

    On the other hand, there are some pretty awesome tech inventions that are actually useful. For instance, many of the latest home gadgets do some of your work for you, from adjusting the home thermostat to locking your front door. And, if used as designed, these tools should really help to make your life a lot easier—and that’s not just a claim from some infomercial trying to sell you yet another useless gadget.

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    Take a look at some of the most popular “smart gadgets” on the market:

    1. Smart Door Locks

    A smart lock lets you lock and unlock your doors by using your smartphone, a special key fob, or biometrics. These locks are keyless, and much more difficult for intruders to break into, making your home a lot safer. You can even use a special app to let people into your home if you are not there to greet them.

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    2. Smart Kitchen Tools

    Wouldn’t you just love to have a pot of coffee waiting for you when you get home from work? What about a “smart pan” that tells you exactly when you need to flip that omelet? From meat thermometers to kitchen scales, you’ll find a variety of “smart” gadgets designed to make culinary geeks salivate.

    3. Mini Home Speaker Play:1

    If you love big sound, but hate how much space big speakers take up, and if you want a stereo system that is no bigger than your fist, check out the Play:1 mini speaker. All you have to do is plug it in, connect, and then you can stream without worrying about any interruptions or interface. You can even add onto it, and have different music playing in different rooms.

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    4. Wi-Fi Security Cameras

    These are the latest in home security, and they connect to the Wi-Fi in your home. You can use your mobile devices to monitor what is going on in your home at all times, no matter where you are. Options include motion sensors, two-way audio, and different recording options.

    5. Nest Thermostat

    This is a thermostat that lives with you. It can sense seasonal changes, temperature changes, etc., and it will adjust itself automatically. You will never have to fiddle with a thermostat dial or keypad again, because this one basically does all of the work for you. It can also help you to save as much as 12% on heating bills, and 15% on cooling bills.

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    6. Smart Lighting

    Control your home lighting from your remote device. This is great if you are out and want to make sure that there are some lights on. It is designed to be energy efficient, so it will pay for itself over time because you won’t have to spend so much on your monthly energy bills.

    7. Google Chromecast Ultra

    Whether you love movies, television shows, music, etc., you can stream it all using Google Chromecast Ultra. Stream all of the entertainment you love in up to 4K UHD and HDR, for just $69 monthly.

    8. Canary

    This home security system will automatically contact emergency services when they are needed. This system offers both video and audio surveillance, so there will be evidence if there are any break-ins on your property. You can also use it to check up on what’s happening at home when you are not there, including to make sure the kids are doing their homework.

    Featured photo credit: Karolina via kaboompics.com

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