September 8, 2022

Work Smarter Not Harder…
By Jayne Warwicker

The average business professional has 30 to 100 projects on their plate. Modern workers are interrupted seven times an hour and distracted multiple times a day.  It is no wonder then that 40% of adults say they lie awake at night plagued by the stressful events of the day.

So is there a way to maintain a steady focus throughout the day?

Is it possible to do everything that needs to get done and still have energy left over after work?

How do you keep cool under so many demands?

Try these simple tips, get home on time and sleep peacefully!!

Work smarter concept with light bulb

Act Rather Than React

Feeling that things are out of control, activates the stress hormone and, if chronic, weakens confidence, concentration and well-being. First, identify the aspects of the situation you can control and those you can’t. Start to address the ones under your control and let go of the rest.

Take A Deep Breath

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, tense or stressed, a few minutes of deep breathing will restore balance. Simply shut the door of your office or toilet if no office is available! Inhale for five seconds, hold and exhale in equal counts through the nose. Do this 5 times. This gives you a minute to compose yourself and it will have an immediate physical impact on your body, leaving you calmer. This can also stop you from doing or saying something in haste in a moment of stress which you may then regret at your leisure!

Deep Breathing Benefits & Techniques to Get Started | Allina ...

Eliminate Interruptions

Phone calls, pop-ins, emails and sudden, urgent deadlines can conspire to make you more distracted than ever. While you may not have control over the interrupters, you can control your response.

Accept the interruption, cut it off, or diagnosis its importance and make a plan. Some interruptions can be anticipated so forward plan; answer emails during certain windows, set up office hours to talk in person or close the door when you need to focus.

For unexpected interruptions; have criteria to enable you to decide where their urgency and/or importance lies. Once plotted on a grid (google ‘urgent/important’  grid) you can decide on when it needs to be done and who needs to do it. Delegation is a skill that can assist a Manager greatly with time management and has the added advantage of upskilling and developing their teams.

Work Smart Not More

Most of us go through the day using a “let’s see how much I can get ticked off my To Do list today whilst moving at the speed of light” approach We think that if we work the full shift without breaks, we’ll get more done. Instead, productivity goes down, stress levels go up and you have very little energy left over for your family and so work/life balance goes out the window.

Instead, schedule breaks throughout the day to walk, stretch at your desk or do a breathing exercise. Tony Schwartz of the Energy Project has shown that if we have intense concentration for about 90 minutes, followed by a brief period of recovery, we can clear the build-up of stress and rejuvenate ourselves. However, time does run away with us so I personally use a timer to ensure I stop for these breaks.

Eat Right And Sleep Well

If racing thoughts keep you from falling asleep or you wake up in the night and can’t get back to sleep, there are many breathing techniques that will help. This is a personal thing, however, so have a look online and download a guided meditation or sounds that soothe you onto your phone. I use a mixture of short guided meditations (they tell you what to do so your racing thoughts are pushed aside) and ocean sounds.  If worries are swirk=ling around your head I find ‘leaves on a stream’ very helpful.

Please find this here ….

In relation to a healthy diet; my own experience is that in an office environment, the biscuit is plentiful!! Try to change this culture by providing healthier snacks and fruit.  Jugs of water or squash in the fridge for easy access can ensure that everybody stays hydrated also.

Change Your Story

Ultimately your stress will be driven by your perceived assumptions that others/superiors will think you cannot cope, or that you feel you are failing as you are not achieving all of your to-do lists in one day.

Step back and take a more objective view. Think about what you have achieved that day and what will result from pushing something back until later. Once you have taken a breath you will probably realise that the only one who is bothered and is panicking about it is you!! Also, be ready and confident in saying ‘NO’. It’s an art which can reduce stress, bring order to your day and gain respect from others if you handle the refusal in a professional manner.

Cool Down Quickly

When you feel frustrated or angry, it’s a heated feeling in your body that can cause you to react. Instead of immediately reacting…and likely overreacting, take a “cooling breath”. Breathe in through your mouth as if you are sipping through a straw, and then breathe out normally through your nose. Done right, you’ll feel a cooling, drying sensation over the top of your tongue. It’s like hitting the “pause” button, giving you time to think about your response.

Build confidence

If you are confident you will not seek others’ approval.  As mentioned above; you are probably beating yourself up when nobody else is even aware of the situation. This will put pressure on you that is neither needed nor helpful and can cause procrastination.

Ironically, once you shift your focus from others’ perception of your work to the work itself, you’re more likely to impress them.

Influence Others

Even if you’re responsible for your behaviour and outlook, you’re still left dealing with other people’s stressful behaviour. Always confront a problem co-worker or employee by stating the bad behaviour in a respectful tone, describing the impact on the team and the individual, and requesting a change. For example, constant negativity might be addressed in this way: “When you speak in a critical tone, it makes others uncomfortable and less likely to see you as a leader. I understand your frustration but request that you bring concerns directly to me, so we can talk them through.” By transferring ownership of the problem, you’re more likely to resolve it.

I use the SBI method for effectively dealing with conflict and difficult conversations and you can find more information regarding this here…

Be Your Own Best Critic

Instead of being harsh and critical of yourself, try pumping yourself up. Encouraging thoughts will help motivate you to achieve and ultimately train you to inspire others. I used to literally judge myself and my performance by my TO-DO list, but this only magnifies the things you haven’t achieved. Before you go home every day, congratulate yourself and your team where appropriate, on all the great things you have accomplished that day. Even on the worst ‘nightmare’ of a day, you can always celebrate you all still being there and relatively sane, ready to fight again the next day!

Jayne Warwicker BSc – Founder of The Lioness Power Coaching system

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