How to stay focused and beat stress
With employees remit broadening, individual responsibilities ballooning, and a wider set of stakeholders demands it’s easy to let stress get the better of you – even in your dream job.
The secret is knowing how to manage your time, prioritise your work, and communicate your goals clearly. As April is Stress Awareness Month, here are some tips to help you beat stress and stay focused.
1. Figure out what’s on your plate
At the end of each day, write a list of all the things you plan to work on tomorrow. Then put a star next to the three tasks you’ll start with – one big and two small. This tactic could help you wind down at the end of the day and gives a prioritised, ready to go plan for the next morning.
2. Enjoy problems
As human beings, we enjoy solving problems and helping others solve things too – like a stranger on the train, weighing in on your cryptic crossword. When stress hits at the office and you start to feel overwhelmed, remember, these challenges are part of what keeps you engaged. So try to enjoy it and unpack the problem over a cuppa with a colleague.
Your brain is 75% water. Dehydrated brains solve problems slower. If you have a mental block, have a break and a glass of the good stuff, then go back to your desk, ready to concoct an action plan to get you on your way again.
4. Manage upwards
Learning your limits can prevent sleepless nights, unhealthy behaviours, fatigue, anxiety and depression. Identify who you report to – often harder than it sounds – and make sure you catch up with them every week. This is a proactive and focused ‘managing upwards’ conversation where you can check your goals are aligned – but it also helps pinpoint workload issues early on.
5. Control what you can
Being answerable to lots of people all clamouring for updates can distract from your work and ramp up stress levels. Prepare and share a simple weekly report showing your priorities and activities, so you can amplify your bigger picture to your internal stakeholders. Invite comments, It’s your feedback channel – but it will also make colleagues aware that they aren’t the only ones needing your attention.
6. Make use of your ‘people people’
If there’s an HR department where you work, remember that they want to foster a workplace environment and company culture that not only promotes business excellence but also cares about your physical and emotional wellbeing. They can always provide an ear, a dose of perspective, or a chance to reflect.
You can also try ways of reimagining your workspace.
7. Take a break
Working in the legal industry is synonymous with spending hours and hours with your nose in a file and keys pinned to the keyboard. How many times have you worked through your lunch or decided a 5-minute break is all that you need? We’ve all been guilty of it! Managing your work and time more efficiently when you are at your desk can have a huge impact on how balanced and happy you feel at the end of the day.
8. Build your bubble
In any shared office, noise levels can fray nerves. Headphones sometimes help… but what’s the best music for your concentration levels? There’s a slightly quirky option here: white noise generators. Sites like Noisli.com let you build your own combination of sounds to block out the world and give your brain just enough aural friction to boost your productivity.
9. A little bit of balance
The legal sphere is fiercely competitive and fast-paced, often with quick-changing regulations and standards to adhere to. Unsurprisingly, this can create a belief that you should be available whenever for your firm – often impacting on life and health outside of work. When you find your work spilling into your personal life, it’s up to you to change it. Whilst it is difficult, when at home try not to check and reply to emails unless absolutely necessary and although sometimes inevitable, limit the amount of work you do take home.
Managing your time and stress isn’t an easy thing to do for any professional but it can be even harder for those in the legal industry. Although taking the time to improve your work/home balance yourself is a step in the right direction, the real progress begins inside the office. Quite often, if you are able to conquer that first, your happiness inside and outside of the office will grow, your productivity will increase and your work/life balance will improve.
If you would like more tips, the time management course from Altior equips you with a range of tips, tools and exercises that can easily implement in your workplace.