Work life is hard. No question about it. But many times we make it harder than it needs to be. Often because we don’t know how to make it any better. We can’t afford to slack off at office, there’s no way we can take a holiday without the boss throwing a fit and we definitely can’t quit.
But the good news is that if you put your mind to it, you can still make hay even when the sun isn’t shining so bright. Here’s how to make your workday more breathable and bearable.
- Create White Spaces – Imagine reading an email where the words are crammed together, where sentences run into each other without punctuation and the whole thing is one chunk of flowing text. Frustrating, isn’t it? Now, imagine the same email with words nicely spaced out, punctuation in its place and the text broken into paragraphs. Better? That’s because white space is important. It’s the same in your work life. If you cram every moment of every day with work tasks, soon everything will stop making sense. Take a step back and create some white spaces. Break up work tasks into smaller ones so that you aren’t overwhelmed. Give your mind a breather, pause, and then restart.
- Make Tiny Pockets Matter – Once you’ve managed to create those white spaces, make them count. Use the in-between time to do something you like. Make a quick call to catch up with a friend. Grab an ice-cream. Stare out a window at that beautiful tree with the yellow flowers. Anything but work. Use these moments to refresh and re-energise yourself.
- Dodge Black Holes – A black hole is everything that sucks up your time without being productive. Chatty colleagues, Whatsapp jokes, unnecessary emails…avoid them like the dengue mosquito. At least while you’re focusing on a work task. Use your white spaces to attend to these less productive activities.
- Ride the Rollercoaster – We all have our energy rollercoasters. Our efficiency speeds up at certain points of the day and drops during others. Identify your peak energy periods. Are you faster at tackling the most brain-intensive tasks first thing in the morning? Or does it take you time to warm-up before you race down the track?
- Re-organise and Prioritise – As much as possible, re-plan your tasks based on your energy rollercoaster chart. For example, slot menial, routine tasks for when your mind is in a post-lunch fog. Plan tasks that need the most attention during your peak energy time.
- Don’t Stress About Being Stressed – The energy and time you use to complain and worry about stress can be channelised instead to counter the pressure. Focus on becoming more aware of your stress indicators. Does your head start to throb when things becomes too much to handle? Do you morph into a cranky toddler? Do you begin to devour anything edible in sight? Recognise these signs and take a break. The world won’t fall apart. Seriously.
So the next time you find yourself feeling trapped at work, remember that comfort can be created even between a rock and a hard place. All it takes is a little bit of effort and a smidgen of creativity.