Rule #1 - if you’re struggling (what’s it feel like) – ask for help
Stress affects everyone – invest in yourself by learning how to manage stress.
Find things that work for you to recharge, relax and give you balance. Take lots of time for self reflection to figure out what works for you. A lot has been written on the topic and not everything works for everyone. Play with the following areas and figure out what helps you.
Professional help (talk, CBT, meds) - See Benefits Program or cover it out of pocket
Sleep is king - get regular good quality sleep - it starts the night before
Me-time: find ways to take time for yourself to be alone, to be with your own thoughts away from distractions and demands from others
Set healthy boundaries (when working minimize personal distractions - when not working minimize work distractions)
Spend time with nature / exercise / music
Suggestions if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Take Instant Messaging off your phone, Take email off your phone – you can still access email via browser for exceptions
Rarely does an email require an immediate response - give yourself the luxury of time
Consider the pace of mind when working vs. when you’re fully not working
How porous is the boundary between work/personal ie: personal resources accessible while working
It's not a balancing act it’s a practice – some days will suck / some days will be awesome – the awesome days should be the norm otherwise it’s time to re-evaluate your values and change course
Evaluate values ie: where do you spend your waking hours/money/attention/resources vs. where do you want to?
Whether you like a calendar or a todo list put your personal stuff in there too
Have a ‘wind down’ period/process toward the end of your work day that removes work items from your space/vision that also considers any prep for the next day
Have a ‘wind up’ period/process as you start your work day that removes personal distractions from your space/vision (ie: keep your cell in another room)
How’s your sleep?
How’s your exercise?
How’s your gratitude practice?
Link discomfort / conflict back to values to challenge thinking
Take a time-based perspective on issues – will it matter in 6 hrs or 6 yrs?
Get rid of the noise – focus on what’s important only
Nuke the distractions
“Control what you can control” - Epictetus – Philosopher
Varying degrees of influence (caring) vs. control
Mental struggle/conflict that results
Questions to ask yourself:
Am I the best person for this ask?
Should I be?
When can I get this done?
What needs to be reprioritized?
How much should I influence this?
Plan ahead and defend your time but be flexible based on management priorities
Shoot for no more than 4-6 meetings a day, You need time to execute and space on your calendar to be flexible
Start Outlook in the “Outlook Today” or Calendar view instead of Inbox (see Advanced Options)
Tired of being on camera all day long - turn off the camera and feel zero guilt - turn it on when you’re comfortable with it
Your brain is not a computer… it can’t context switch as fast nor as often
Block some time weekly on your calendar for R&D to invest in yourself – 1 hour that you can be flexible about – but take time to stay updated on industry happenings/news
Block 30-60 mins toward the end of the week for planning “next week” (ditto on flexibility)
Asking if some assigned task can wait a few days, or weeks, can help determine the priority of a task.
Asking if someone else can work on an assigned task, is also another way to distribute work more evenly.
Annual Reviews - think about them as a way for you to reflect on your past year’s learnings and accomplishments and a way for you to document your career. You can store them for later use in your career as a quick way to recall the details of your work
“Productive Procrastination” (ninja move)
Follow up in Outlook to push it to the end of the week or a specific date (just remember to go look at them later) then remove from Inbox (out of sight)
Use email filter rules to automatically move “FYI” types of messages into a folder(s) for reading when your priorities are first dealt with
Someday/Maybe – from GTD – just keep a list someplace and look at it monthly / quarterly
Use your mailer apps delayed send function to avoid sending emails outside business hours (think 9-5). For Outlook users try this script.
Instead of “as it happens mode” consider having a 1 hr block weekly you can be flexible about where you focus intently on Instant Messaging group/channel(s) catchup / web articles (and share goodies with your teammates)
“Going dark” (ninja move) - Having email open, having Instant Messaging open, having your phone in front of you means “I’m open for distraction by anyone who wants to get me”. Sometimes that’s fine - but shouldn’t be the norm.
Turn off or bury email, Instant Messaging tools and disable ALL notification completely
Put your phone in a different room or in a drawer (out of sight is out of mind) - and silence the ringer/vib-modes
Get your focused work done, then come back to the world and keep being awesome!
Model the behaviour you want in your staff
Use 1:1 to ask how staff are doing mentally then listen
Be vulnerable with your staff, they must know you are human too
Help staff with their career planning beyond their role with you currently...have a 5 yr visioning session yearly
Never do for your staff what they can do for themselves… just as in parenting
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) Challenging Thought Patterns
Black and white thinking: “I have to answer emails/instant messages immediately or I’ll look bad.”
Challenge: Consider the difference between urgent and important. Will a few minutes or even days matter? Also consider the benefits of waiting on a response.
Mind reading: “The customer isn’t asking questions so I’m doing a bad job”
Challenge: You are not a judge. Seek and show evidence instead.
Crystal-ball gazing: “If we don’t fix this issue we’ll lose the renewal.”
Challenge: A single bad experience has yet to sink a customer.
Over-generalization: “The customer didn’t attend the meeting so they aren’t getting value from us.”
Challenge: Attendance is a measure of engagement – not value.
Disqualifying the positive: “By turning off that widget in the UI we’re just putting a band aid on the underlying issue.”
Challenge: While not the best solution, it resolved the performance issue and opened lots of good dialog between teams on better design.
Overreacting: “The support person asked a different person to get involved making me feel like I’m not doing my job.”
Challenge: Support made a mistake and overlooked their process.
Unrealistic expectations: “We should have no red items in the support system.”
Challenge: Have you ever used perfect software?
Name calling: “That guy is useless. Why can’t they get good people on that team?”
Challenge: Is it possible that “that guy” has his own stress affecting his work?
Self-blame: “The boss seems mad. It must be something I did wrong.”
Challenge: Like you the boss has their own stress, possibly both on the job and personally.
Catastrophizing: “My presentation wasn’t perfect so we’re going to lose this customer.”
Challenge: Everyone has bad days, let this go and plan for how you’ll do better next time.
Other Awesome Resources
Wellness Together Canada - https://wellnesstogether.ca/en-CA
reThinkingStress - https://sparqtools.org/rethinkingstress-instructions/
Self Compassion - https://self-compassion.org/
Headspace - https://www.headspace.com/
Prioritization - https://blog.rescuetime.com/how-to-prioritize/
Ontario Caregivers - https://ontariocaregiver.ca/for-caregivers/
HelpGuide - https://www.helpguide.org/
CAMH 101 - https://www.camh.ca/en/health-info/mental-health-101
Uphub.ca (local York Region resources)
Canada Life - https://www.workplacestrategiesformentalhealth.com/topic/Resources-for-employees
Lots more goodies… https://osmihelp.org/resources