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9 Ways To Say No To Work Stress

9 Ways To Say No To Work Stress

You know the scene. You work a 16-hour day and you are stressed out. The fear of losing your job prevents you from refusing more work, projects and responsibilities. But what is the result? You are at high risk of suffering from depression, stress-related illnesses and your relationships suffer. You have set a dangerous precedent and your company may assume this is your normal workload.

One study by the UK mental health charity, Mind, found that more than 60% of those surveyed felt that management was of no help at all. The sad fact is that many line managers haven’t a clue as how to manage their employees. Your manager is not going to change but you are! Time to call a halt. Here are 9 ways to say no to work stress.

‘You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.’ – Christopher Columbus

1. You must make a choice

The work will not decrease. In fact, you can expect a tsunami and your boss will still be just as unsympathetic as before. This is why you have to make a choice now. Thinking that you have no choice but to slave away is like letting yourself sink into quicksand. Only you have the power to choose not to kill yourself.

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‘I promise you nothing is as chaotic as it seems. Nothing is worth your health. Nothing is worth poisoning yourself into stress, anxiety, and fear.’ – Steve Maraboli

2. Start prioritizing now

You have taken on too much and cannot finish all the projects within the set deadlines. Time to prioritize and start making a list. At the start of the day, make a list of everything you have to do, even the small stuff. Then decide what goes to the top, because of urgent deadlines. Then try and delegate any minor jobs. Resolve to check emails only at set times during the day. Avoid multitasking and reacting to work as it shows up.

At the end of the day, review your list and start to make a list for tomorrow. This is the method preferred by Paula Rizzo which you can see on the video here.

3. Learn how to say no

Your boss asks you to do another task. You are afraid of confrontation and you are worried that your colleagues may resent your refusal. But you are the one who is going to suffer. You are at risk of damaging your career when you make mistakes or miss yet another deadline. Here are some ways that you can say ‘no’ in the most assertive, yet diplomatic way:

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  • Mention one urgent project that is taking up all your time.
  • Suggest a different time limit for the proposed extra work.
  • Don’t use the word ‘no’ directly.
  • Don’t be apologetic or feel guilty.
  • Point out the risks of missing other more pressing deadlines.
  • Mention what you need help with to finish the most urgent task.
  • If you are nervous about a verbal refusal, ask for time to think about it and then reply by email, stating some of the reasons mentioned above.

4. Set boundaries

Make sure that you are getting breaks and having a decent lunch break. Avoid snacking at your desk. Think about working long hours. Is it worth it? Consider this:

  • Your productivity goes down as darkness falls.
  • You make more mistakes when tired.
  • You are putting your career at risk.
  • You are not managing your time properly.
  • Your mood gets worse and worse and damages relationships with colleagues.

5. Talk about the problem

Confide in a trusted colleague, friend or your partner. Try to examine what is happening. Are there ways that you can improve your work procedures?

6. Exercise

Make a firm decision to stop working at a certain time a few days of the week. Work out in the gym, go for a walk or meet a friend for a chat. Doing exercise will release the endorphins and automatically lift your mood. Remember that if you are tired, hungry or in a bad mood, your productivity will be negatively affected. It is much better to work shorter hours more efficiently.

7. Deal with anxiety

Let’s imagine you have to give a presentation and you are extremely nervous about it. Latest research suggests that trying to calm yourself may not be the best strategy. If you acknowledge that you are excited and get psyched up by accepting that, then surprising things begin to happen. The study done by the Harvard Business School suggests that the anxiety remains but the combination with the excitement seems to control the nerves. Participants who did this all performed better than those who were trying to calm down.

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You can experiment and see what works best for you. Many people still benefit in taking a calming supplement such as Bach’s Rescue Remedy or chamomile.

8. Take a holiday

You must be joking!  Look at the statistics. If people looked after their stress levels, just by taking time off or using their time better, then the economy would start to boom again. Estimates by the European Union have calculated that as much as 60% of lost days caused by absenteeism are due to stress-related illnesses.

The Britons work the longest hours in the whole of Europe and they have reached the unenviable record of putting in about 40 days of overtime every year which is unpaid!

9. Start with small changes

It is unlikely that your workload will be dramatically reduced, even if you threaten to leave. Your manager will not change either. The best solution is to start by making small changes, such as time management or learning how to say no to a crushing workload. You are in the frontline. Look after yourself. Nobody else will!

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‘It is not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.’ – Hans Selye

 

Featured photo credit: Sleeping pills/Dean via Flickr

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Published on September 16, 2020

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

Today, with many companies going remote—at least until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine—technical proficiency is a vital skill for every interviewee to master. You may be asked to interview for a job on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The way you handle yourself in the online interview (your interview skills) will say much about your ability to work from home efficiently.

Does your workspace look clean or cluttered? Is the area free from noise? Is your home office well lit?

Once hired, you may be asked to organize meetings on Zoom and other platforms. Along with mastering the technology, you will have to learn to follow certain protocols.

Now is the time to get up to speed on your technical skills. Learn which interview skills are needed for the particular job for which you are applying and practice them.

Online learning sites, such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, offer courses for free or a nominal membership fee. If you are a DIY type, make use of training videos offered through your particular digital tools.

Additionally, demonstrating that you have these 12 interview skills will help you land your dream job.

1. Organization

When you work in a brick-and-mortar office, some of the organizing is left to others. Your direct supervisor may host a Monday morning quarterback meeting where each worker reports on the progress on their tasks.

When you work from home, much of the organizing will be left up to you. To a much greater extent than before, you will need to develop a schedule and stick to it. Some tasks may be faster to complete from your home office where you don’t have other workers competing for your attention.

Conversely, you may find that some tasks that would have gone quickly in an office seem to take forever from your home computer. Your phone may ring a lot, which can distract you, or you may have kids and a spouse who inadvertently disrupt your schedule.

To do: Set a schedule and stick to it.

To discuss during your interview: Be specific. Point to the interview skill you utilized to create a schedule for a complex work project and followed it.

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2. Flexibility

You set a schedule for the completion of your tasks, but your prospective boss gets their work done between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 a.m. Your West Coast partners are three hours behind your East Coast partners, and one of your partners lives in England while another lives in Australia.

Feedback and collaboration (see point 3) may need to happen asynchronously. Be the flexible candidate—the person who is willing to occasionally disrupt their schedule for the greater good of the team.

For extra credit: don’t just look up time zones, look up whether they observe Daylight Savings Time.

To do: Be flexible about meeting times.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a time when you worked on a team where members lived in different time zones. Discuss your processes.

3. Collaboration

As recently as six months ago, before the pandemic raged around the world, collaboration wasn’t quite as essential as it is today. In a remote office setting, collaboration doesn’t just mean working well with others—but actually sharing documents and editing them online on time.

Several cloud-based tools, such as Google Drive, Basecamp, and Trello, enable the type of collaborative teamwork that most companies want today.

To do: Download the correct software and practice using it.

To discuss during your interview: Discuss how you worked remotely with a group. Share how you overcame certain challenges.

4. Poise

Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

When things do go awry, keeping your wits about you will demonstrate your consummate professionalism under fire. This will show your future bosses that you will be able to work well under the pressures of remote work.

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What could go wrong, you ask? You might be muted without realizing it—your Internet connection may not be robust, your headphones may blip out, your cellphone may ring, Zoom could have an outage. The list goes on and on.

To do: Make sure you have the most up-to-date versions of Skype and Zoom uploaded.

To discuss during your interview: Consider highlighting a time when a project did not go as planned. Demonstrate the interview skills that allowed you to rise to the challenge.

5. Communication

Your ability to handle online communication is one of the top critical skills you will need to thrive in today’s remote workplace. Download Slack if you haven’t already. Get used to toggling to a different form of online communication if one of your tools fails.

When it comes to the preferred format for your online interview, demonstrate proficiency by offering several different options. Give your phone number, Google Chat Hangouts name, and Skype ID.

To do: Familiarize yourself with video conference and online chat tools, such as Slack, Fleep, or Workplace by Facebook.

To discuss during your interview: Be prepared to share the online communication tools you’re using and examples of how you use each one.

6. Good Computer Hygiene

Setting up a backup system for your computer files is one of today’s crucial requirements for working in the digital age. Storing documents that can be shared by team members is also an efficient way to work together on presentations, articles, and reports—although studies show nearly one-third of employees avoid them because of the time it takes to find documents.

Be prepared in your interview to indicate your experience utilizing this technology, describing how you organize and store files using cloud-based collaboration tools. How do you keep track of links and tabs? Do you use Dropbox? Google Docs? Confluence? Others?

To do: Take inventory of the cloud-based document sharing and storage systems you know and use.

To discuss during your interview: Describe the document sharing tools and backup systems you utilize—both for personal protection and professional file sharing.

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7. Proper Meeting Etiquette

Today, presenting yourself virtually has its pros and cons. While you only have to show a professional persona from the waist up (make sure to straighten up your office space behind you), you must boost your energy to show that you’re engaged in the discussion.

Make your voice as upbeat as possible. Have your talking points at the ready and be careful not to ramble on, as long virtual meetings easily become tiresome. Use the mute and chat features to avoid interruptions.

To do: Once you know the meeting platform, make sure you have it mastered before your interview.

To discuss during your interview: Offer to share your screen to show an example of a work project— while at the same time demonstrating your prowess with video conferencing tools.

8. Respecting Feedback

In the age of working remotely, there may not be as many systems in place to obtain feedback (such as yearly performance reviews). Workers may need to ask for feedback, while managers may need to give more feedback than usual as the team adjusts to working off-site. Respecting feedback is on top of the interview skills list that you should learn.

Taking a proactive approach with giving and receiving feedback and incorporating it into your work style is a desirable quality that your employers will note.

To do: Reflect on the positive feedback you’ve received from past employers to bolster your confidence.

To discuss during your interview: Share a time when you received feedback that made you grow in the job. If you’re a manager, share a time when you gave feedback to an employee who needed to better their job performance.

9. Project Management

Staying on task with projects has evolved far past a to-do list, with electronic tools that can track time, manage team workloads, and even do the client billing. While your prospective employer may have its preferred project management program, your experience with any of the various options—whether it’s Basecamp, Teamwork, Smartsheet, or another—will be applicable.

To do: Know which project management software is likely to be used by the industry in which you’re interviewing, and familiarize yourself with its features.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a project management feature that is particularly useful in helping you excel in your work, and explain how you utilize it.

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10. Staying up to Speed

Employers expect their remote workers to be technically proficient so that technology runs smoothly and doesn’t create work disruptions. Bosses count on remote workers to know enough about their systems to manage them without relying on the help of overworked IT staff.

To do: Make sure you have a fast internet connection and have a back-up plan, such as a second computer or other tethered devices.

To discuss during your interview: Note that you are diligent about keeping your computer and software up to date.

11. Attention to Cybersecurity Issues

“Virus” is a loaded term these days. Spreading a computer virus in your company, however, will not only bring productivity to a halt, but it will also make you a pariah. While working from public places using free Wi-Fi (with uneven security provisions) has waned, in pre-pandemic times, coffee shops accounted for 62 percent of Wi-Fi security breaches.

To do: Keep antivirus software updated and don’t download software without verifying its authenticity.

To discuss during your interview: Emphasize your awareness of cybersecurity risks and your care in taking necessary safety measures.

12. Teamwork

Work relationships now mostly happen in virtual settings, yet employers value team-oriented workers.

Being a part of a team gives you a sense of connection and shared purpose. A well-honed team understands how mutual reliance makes the sum of its parts greater than when individuals act on their own, improving the end product.

To do: Take stock of your attributes as a team player and where you can cultivate skills that will enable you to work more collaboratively.

To discuss during your interview: Inquire about the company’s culture and how it encourages a sense of community despite working remotely.

Final Thoughts

Preparing for remote positions available in today’s job market will mean honing your interview skills to highlight your technical abilities as well as your adaptability. By adhering to these To-Do’s and perfecting your online interview skills and charisma, you will rise above the competition and win over any prospective employer.

More Tips to Improve Your Interview Skills

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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