I have a friend who is constantly tortured by stress at work and this compelled me to write an article based from my experience as an office employee for 8 years.
Being excellent at your job requires a lot of effort. You make sure that everything is well and you deal with people no matter how they are difficult to deal with. It’s a daily struggle so one needs to know the ways to get through most of it, if not all.
1. Learn to say “No”
I am putting this at the top of my list because we usually want to please everyone as much as possible. But the truth is, we can’t. While working beyond our job description is commendable, we don’t have to do it all the time. Also, our time, which is our most valuable resource, is limited. So we must make sure that whatever task that we are doing is worthy of our time that we cannot take back.
2. Learn to speak up/complain
In the corporate world, those who cannot speak up for themselves remain at the bottom. It is NOT prohibited to speak up as long as we remain professional. It is not easy to voice out, yes, but we need to build up the courage. If you cannot do it face to face, try sending it via email. Now, I am speaking of the “within normal” circumstances. I know that there are times that some people are tied up with their situation for whatever reason. But then again, carefully assess the situation and speak up because at the end of the day, no one will know what you’re thinking.
3. Don’t be abused
This is related to item #1. Bad superiors tend to abuse their subordinates by giving them more tasks especially if the subordinates do not know how to refuse. Those superiors even use the word “opportunity” to make the extra tasks sound good. While it could be true, working extra hours and drastically cutting sleep is detrimental to our health. Moreover, we would be less productive the next day because we don’t have the optimal energy to use for that day. Working extra hours once in a while, when needed, is fine, but if it becomes regular, then there’s something wrong with your organization.
Always remember your contract. You signed up for an x-hour-a-day job. If your company does not pay you the extra hours you work for them, then that’s even worse, unless you are already paid handsomely and it is stipulated in the contract that you don’t get paid when you work extra.
In the end, the company only sees you as a resource that can be replaced. That’s the sad truth. So do not sacrifice your health for it.
4. Do not dwell on something you can’t control
I’ve messed up many times in my entire career. But what is done is done, and what we should do is to fix whatever mistakes we’ve done. If it’s unfixable, then don’t dwell on it emotionally too much. Just remember not to do the same mistake next time.
5. Do not overthink
This is related to item #4. We tend to overthink when we are worried. I know it’s not easy as I am also one of those people. Sometimes you just can’t control it. But what I do to counter it is to clear my mind and be rational. In my case, it helps if I write down the things that I think of. It’s like getting them off my head. Try to do it, too.
6. Don’t treat everything as urgent
Not all tasks are created equal. Prioritize accordingly. This is just the same when doing homework in school. You finish first the ones that are due soon, right? There are lots of tools available to help us with prioritizing tasks. The most common is Excel. Plot down your tasks and set deadlines. In that way you will be able to have a clear visual of all your tasks. It can be overwhelming, yes, but at least you already have a checklist.
7. Be realistic with your own deadlines
You know yourself more than anyone. You know your capacity and you know when you are most focused. So plot down your deadlines wisely or else it would be useless.
8. Speak to your HR
If you have a problem with your superior, whatever that is, you can always reach out to Human Resources. Then the HR will assess and give you advice on what you should do. Don’t try to solve the problem alone if you’re unsure of what to do.
9. Talk to your friends and peers
If you have a circle of friends who are also professionals, maybe they know what to do. They also encounter problems in their office so you could discuss it to them. Also, you might be helpful to their problems as well. So arrange an online discussion and ask each other’s condition.
Top cause of stress
In my experience, one of the top causes of stress, if not the top, is mismanagement. If the management is incompetent, the employees suffer. So as employees, we really need to speak up to our managers and human resources. Sometimes, managers have a lot on their plate which make them lose focus on handling people well. Sometimes, they just become lazy. So carefully assess your work environment and see if you can do something to improve the overall work experience. In the end, we all just want to do our jobs at peace. And if we do our jobs successfully, the company benefits from it ultimately.