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10 Signs You Are Under Too Much Pressure at Work

10 Signs You Are Under Too Much Pressure at Work

Workplace stress can sometimes go undetected, because you’re so busy trying to keep on top of tasks that you’ve no time to stop and look at the impact of work pressure and whether or not you’re coping with it. This article can help you track your stress levels. If you’re suffering from a lot of symptoms, consider making changes so you can avoid complete burnout.

1. Unexplained Aches and Pains

Working in an uncomfortable chair or at a desk that’s the wrong height can cause your body to become achy. But if you’re suffering from aches and pains that can’t be explained by poor ergonomics, it may be that you’re under too much pressure. According to Dr Gabor Mate, author of When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress, stress causes many more physical symptoms than we realize. Unexplained pain can be a signal from the body to alert you to the fact that you’re over-taxing yourself.

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2. Altered Appetite

If you often skip lunch because you don’t feel hungry, that could be a sign that you’re feeling the strain. When you’re having to deal with other pressures, your priorities change and eating may feel less important to your body than dealing with current work stressors. Alternatively, if you’re stuffing your face in the work canteen every day, you may be comfort eating to deal with stress. Which you do depends on your personality, but a change in appetite is a common sign of stress.

3. Sleep Struggles

If you’re struggling to get into work on time, because either you overslept or are over-tired from lying awake all night, then you may be under too much pressure at work. Changes in sleep patterns are another of those things that can go to either extreme. Your body may feel it needs more rest to gather energy to deal with stressors or you may be kept awake by your worry thoughts. It will depend on the personality and your situation, but a different sleep pattern can indicate you’re under too much pressure.

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4. Feeling Lonely

Your office may be full of your colleagues as usual, and yet you feel like the loneliest person in the world. Stress can make you feel isolated and cut off from other people, especially if you’re the sort of person who takes pressure personally. It’s as if stressors are following you like a little black cloud and no-one else could possibly understand how you feel. John Cacioppo, a professor of psychology, and author of Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, points out that feeling unrewarded can lead to feelings of loneliness. Perhaps, when you’re under pressure, the imbalance between the amount of effort you put into work and the amount of reward you feel to get back causes workplace loneliness.

5. Constant Colds

When your body is under too much pressure, your immune system can become compromised. When all your resources need to go towards sorting out things at work, the body does not have enough energy left to protect itself from illness. If you seem to always have the sniffles lately, when you’re usually in good health, take a look at your workload and see if you’re doing too much.

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6. Getting Sweaty

Are you constantly needing to ‘freshen up’ at work because you’re feeling a bit sweaty? Sweating a lot when the temperature doesn’t warrant it can show that you’re suffering from stress. The reason why work pressure may cause you to sweat is that external stressors can activate the ‘fight or flight’ response in the body. This causes a surge of adrenaline, which, in turn, makes you sweat. Researchers are still not clear on why this is, but seem to be leaning towards the idea that the smell produced by sweat could be a signal to others that there is danger around. A study carried out by Stony Brook University and published in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience in 2011, revealed that found that people who were exposed to another person’s stress sweat became more alert.

7. Procrastinating

Believe it or not, procrastination is more often a sign of anxiety than it is of laziness. Anyone who has seen a rabbit caught in headlights knows the rabbit is not simply not bothering to move. As well as ‘fight or flight’, extreme pressure can also cause a ‘freeze response’, which means you simply don’t know exactly what to do next, so staying still seems like the most sensible option. If you’re finding that you have lots of tasks at work but can’t seem to start any, you may be ‘freezing’ under too much pressure.

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8. Being Snappy

If you have an uncharacteristically short fuse, you’re probably suffering from too much pressure. Agitation can build up inside without us realizing, and suddenly we find we’ve bitten the head off a co-worker for no real reason. If you look back at your day, you’ll probably notice how the pressure has been building from one stressor to the next, like a pressure cooker waiting to explode.

9. Anxious Thoughts

There are several categories of anxious thoughts that seem to arise when we’re stressed out. These can range from ‘worst scenario thinking’, like presuming you’ll lose your job if you don’t get a work report right, to ‘mind reading’, eg. automatically assuming that your boss will hate your latest presentation even though you have no real evidence. If you look at your anxious thoughts and they seem really unrealistic, they are probably a response to extreme pressure at work.

10. Light-headedness

Although dizziness can be caused by all sorts of things, it is often an overlooked symptom of workplace stress. If you think about the way the body works, when you’re stressed out, the fight or flight response causes us to breathe more shallowly, and our heart to speed up, preparing us to run away or enter combat. Breathing too quickly causes the arteries to contract, so less blood reaches the brain, and this can cause a feeling of light-headedness. If you’re constantly having to sit down at work or grab onto the photocopier because you’re feeling dizzy, this could be a sign of workplace stress.

NB. Before putting any of these symptoms purely down to stress, note that other illnesses can sometimes share these symptoms. While you are looking at ways of managing pressure better, please also get a physical health check.

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Last Updated on November 19, 2019

Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart

Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart

I imagine that like me, you say that you never have enough time and that you just cannot cope with 60 dozen things all at once.

How on earth do you get out of that spiral?

Many people never sit down and look at how to work smarter, rather than harder and even longer hours. But not you, you’re smart enough to try to learn effective ways to work.

So how to work smarter not harder? Here are 12 smart ways you should be following:

1. Improve Your Time Management Skills

Easier said than done? Well, no actually, because there are a few simple rules that can really help you to manage time better.

For example, when setting up a top priority task, you need to switch off the phone and ignore your email first. Then you need to abandon any ideas of multitasking as that will slow you down and ruin your focus.

Finally, set a reasonable deadline and do everything in your power to meet it.

“When you’re born, you’re born with 30,000 days. That’s it. The best strategic planning I can give to you is to think about that.” — Sir Ray Avery

2. Speed up Your Typing and Use Shortcuts

These days we’re all keyboard slaves. So why not speed up your typing and try to get rid of the two finger syndrome. In fact, when you save 21 days per year just by typing fast!

This is exactly what I am doing now, so I cannot honestly say I am practicing what I preach!

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But help is at hand. Try some of these apps and games to help you type fast: 8 Most Effective Games and Apps to Learn to Type Fast

Using shortcuts on the keyboard is another time saver and can speed up your work.

For example, press F2 to rename a selected file, while CTRL + I will put selected text in italics.

There are so many of these. If you make the effort to learn them, they really can be helpful.

3. Learn How to Use Productivity Tools

It is well worth downloading all the useful tools and apps that can highly boost your productivity. Take a look at these 18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools and install whatever fits your needs.

Now that is really a great way of working smarter, not harder.

4. Use Your Phone Wisely

Instead of writing emails, sometimes it’s better to pick up the phone and talk to the person responsible. It saves time, especially for important or urgent discussions.

If that colleague works in the same office, it is even better to go and talk to him or her. It gives you a break, you get some exercise and you actually make human contact which is becoming quite rare in this electronic world.

5. Keep a Tab on Your Tabs

If you are like me, you might well find that you have a ton of tabs open at the top of your browser.

In order to find the one you want, you have to search for them as they are off screen. Having all these tabs open slows down your browser too.

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One solution is to use OneTab which can keep a neat list on the screen of all these tabs when you want to quickly get to one of them or you want to remind yourself which ones you have open.

6. Use a “To Don’t” List

We all know about to do lists and I find that they are generally great. They give me a great sense of achievement as I cross off the tasks done.

But often, I find that we are doing non-essential tasks or ones that can easily be postponed. That is why many people recommend the to don’t list.[1]

Some people prefer to savagely prune the to do list while others prefer to have two separate lists, to do and to don’t. You just have to work out what works best for you when you are trying to save precious time to become more productive.

7. Expect Failure and Fight Paranoia

When failure rears its ugly head, some people get a bit paranoid and fear that this may become a trend.

Projects will go wrong and failure should be expected rather than feared. Learning lessons from failure and analyzing what went wrong is the best way forward.

“Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.” — Richard Branson

And here you can find 10 Great Lessons Highly Successful People Have Learned From Failure.

8. Be Concise

Rambling on at meetings, in emails and even when introducing yourself to new clients can waste a lot of people’s time.

One way is to practice and sharpen your “elevator speech,”[2] which tells people in 30 seconds or less why they need your skills and how they can benefit from doing business with you.

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Just think of the many situations where this could be useful:

  • Making new contacts
  • Talking about yourself at a job interview
  • Meeting people at conferences or parties
  • Phone calls to new clients

9. Ask the Right Questions

“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” — Naguib Mahfouz

How do you get feedback? The secret is to ask the right questions at the right time.

When you do this, you are gathering the information you need to help in decision making. This will save you time and you will be able to cut meetings to a minimum.

Forbes magazine reports on research that they carried out on asking the right questions.[3] When that happens, the positive effects are increased by 400%. There are also other benefits in staff motivation and a positive impact on the company’s bottom line.

Lifehack’s CEO Leon has shared about how to ask for feedback to learn faster: How to Learn Quickly And Master Any Skill You Want

10. Learn as Much as You Can

You should always be on a steep learning curve. Look at your skills profile and determine where you need to fill a gap. Talk to important connections and network in your niche.

Keep up to date on trends and developments. It is a fact-changing world. When an opportunity arises, you will be the best equipped to seize it because you have never stopped learning. Just another way of working smarter.

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” — Mahatma Gandhi

11. Look After Your Greatest Resource

No, your greatest resource is not time. It is YOU.

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If you do not get enough sleep, exercise and relaxation, you find that you become less and less productive. You begin to work longer and longer hours, which is the exact opposite of what you want.

What you should be doing is making sure you are in the best shape. It is useful to remember that you need a break of 15 minutes after every one and a half hours of work.[4]

Taking breaks and getting fresh air and exercise is one of the best ways of working smarter, not harder.

12. Don’t Fall into the Trap of Working Smarter and Harder

As a society, we are obsessed with doing everything smarter so we are more efficient and we save time all around.[5]

But the most important thing to remember is to accept when we are ready to switch off that computer and not fill up the time with even more work!

The Bottom Line

The key to greater productivity is to work smarter, not harder. Working smarter saves precious time and energy for the things that really matter — your life goals, your personal growth, your health and your relationships.

Stop working for more hours and start working smarter!

More About Working Smart

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

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