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7 Principles to Keep Calm when Work Gets Insane

7 Principles to Keep Calm when Work Gets Insane

Work can be hectic some days. No matter how well-oiled a machine is, we all get swamped every now and again. Some system glitch, field trip, flu, or act of God may hit your workplace, and you’re going to have to roll up your sleeves and clean it up. If work is bogging you down and you’re online to ignore it, you’re doing it wrong. Here are the seven principles to keep calm no matter how crazy work gets.

1. Remind Yourself It’s Only Temporary

Life is temporary. Everything in life is temporary. You are temporary. No matter how bad things are right now, it is only temporary. Suck it up and make it through, and you’ll be that much stronger, wiser, and more beautiful for it. You’ve been through worse than this.

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2. Meditate and/or Medicate

In the holistic view, meditation is the answer to every problem. Your problems become easier to overcome if you sit still long enough. I’ve used meditation to great success to keep myself calm at work, and you can too. All it takes is to close your eyes for a minute and listen to your breath. Feel your chest expand and contract as you breathe in…and out…in…and out…In as little as five minutes, you’ll be refreshed and renewed, making the work a little easier.

Most holistic teachers ignore the benefits of medications, but Western medicine is prescription-based and I would be doing you a great disservice to not recognize this. If things are really getting to be too much and your stress or anxiety just won’t go away, go and see a doctor to discuss accessing therapy or anti-anxiety medications. Also know your limits if you decide to self-medicate, or you’ll end up hurting yourself more than helping.

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3. Stop Multitasking

Sometimes you bite off more than you can chew. Just because you’re facing a mountain of paperwork doesn’t mean you have to reach the summit in one shot. Having more work doesn’t mean you have to do more at once – it’s not like you suddenly gain superpowers when the work necessitates it. Continue at a pace you’re comfortable with. Splitting your focus will just tire you out faster.

4. Accept Failure

No matter how good you are at what you do, no matter how much you practice, you will fail in life. It’s unavoidable. Accepting the possibility of failure makes it easier to get through the work. Things may be bad if you fail, but unless you’re in the military or a bomb squad, few deadlines lead to actual death. Do your best to deliver results, but if it doesn’t happen, you at least know you did your best.

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5. Take a Hike

Sometimes you need to walk away from the office for a moment to gather your wits. Don’t be afraid to take a 15-minute stroll to keep your sanity despite the insane workload you’re facing. It may feel like slacking off, but it’s better for you in the long run. I love taking walks to invigorate my mind and body while giving me time away from the heat to formulate plans to get through it all. Try it out.

6. Stop Surfing the Internet

Let’s be honest – you’re procrastinating right now. There’s no real business purpose for you to be online. You’re avoiding work. If you weren’t avoiding work by surfing the Internet, maybe work wouldn’t be so insane. You’d get your tasks completed, and you’d have time later on to surf the Internet. I live online, so I can assure you nothing is happening right now that can’t wait another hour or so to read about. If anything important does happen, you’ll hear about it. Focus on work.

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7. Know When to Fold ‘Em

Some workplaces are always insane. Think about what the hiring manager told you: did they say there may be occasional overtime, and suddenly you’re finding out “occasional” means 12-hour days seven days a week? Temporary (i.e. 3–6 months) bouts of insane workloads are normal, but if you constantly feel like work is insane, maybe this isn’t the job for you. Take a moment to really look at your life and decide if this is worth it. If it’s not, don’t be afraid to leave; just do it in a professional manner.

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Last Updated on March 23, 2021

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

You need more than time management. You need energy management

1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

2. Determine your “peak hours”

Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

3. Block those high-energy hours

Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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