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You Can And Need To Reduce Your Workplace Stress
by Toni Seger
TheSyndicatedNews columnist

Co-owner of a media/communications firm called ProseWorks(tm) Associates since 1992, Toni Seger has been a professional writer for four decades and since 2004, has produced a public affairs television show for the largest chamber in Maine.

Stress can take a real toll on your health and as such it needs to be taken seriously. If stress is a regular part of your working life, be honest about it and look for ways you can reduce it because it won’t fade away on its own. The only way you will reduce stress in your life is by making it a priority to do so. The first task is to locate where the stress is coming from. Then, you want to isolate it and figure out how to reduce or eliminate it. It’s possible this could require you to make some major change or changes in your life to accomplish, but it’s always worth it.

For example, if your boss regularly upsets you whether through design or ignorance, you need to face it because it’s making your life miserable. Start keeping a record of your interactions and why you think you’re having problems. You need to be specific and capable of identifying what’s wrong with the situation or you will never have a chance of resolving it. If you are actually being bullied or harassed at your work place, you may simply want to leave. If you decide to stay, however, you will need a record of specific incidents before you can explore any options for relief.

Though it seems tedious, keeping a workplace stress record is actually a good way to relieve some of the stress you feel. Expressing yourself in words gives you a chance to release the feelings you’ve kept pent up and that always helps. Keeping your emotions penned in will only increase the stress load you’re already feeling.

Perhaps, your stress comes from having too much work. If you’re normally a well organized person able to take on simultaneous tasks and you’re feeling overburdened, maybe you’re simply overworked. It’s even possible chronic overload is characteristic of your job. If, in fact, your work environment is characterized by high pressure and resultant stress, you will have to learn to accept it if you’re going to keep that particular job. In any event, don’t take it personally. It’s in the nature of your job, nothing more. Be sure you prioritize your activities, however, so you’re always secure about getting the most important things done on time. Then, be honest about the work you simply can’t get done. Is this work you don’t want to do or is it work you simply can’t fit into your schedule?

If you’re stressed over your work environment because you’re expected to put in a lot of overtime, someone might be taking advantage of you. Does your company need to hire someone else? Is it possible you need some assistance? Perhaps, the problem is allocation and your work load needs to be allocated differently? Once again, keep a log of what’s happening as much for your own understanding as to help you explain it to others. If you do get to the point where you want to sit down and talk with someone about this, you will need to show documentation about the problem.

Research about wasted time on the job indicates as much as 90 percent of our work time can be wasted on effort that is not productive. If this is happening to you, it could be a major source of your stress. The leading cause of wasted time is clutter. If you’re afflicted with clutter, you need to find ways to unclutter yourself. If you do, you’ll find your working life is both more productive and, as a consequence, more satisfying.

Clutter can come in many forms both mental and physical. If you’re chronically preoccupied with outside matters, you’re not going to be able to concentrate on your job. Learn to compartmentalize so that your work life and private life are kept separate. Start every day, at work, by clearing your mind of any issues outside of your job.

If your problem is physical clutter, take a good hard look at your desk. Is it piled high with paper so that it’s impossible to find anything. Make it a point to restore order to your workplace every afternoon before you leave. Get rid of old notices, magazines, letters and other items not germane to what you’re working on. File away what you can’t throw out so, at least, you don’t have to look at it.

If you still can’t get down to bare desk space, develop piles for the material you have and tag them for future reference. Stack the piles on the floor just to get them away from your immediate sight. Make it a goal to clear your space. In this way, you can reclaim the top of your desk at the end of each work day. Using the exercise of clearing your desk can have the psychological effect of clearing your mind as well. Reducing clutter can unburden your thought processes and make you more efficient.

If you’re someone who likes to decorate your work space, try to keep it to a minimum and always above the top of your desk so that it doesn’t interfere with your work space. Clutter producing ‘doo-dads’ can end up adding to your problems by filling up precious space and not adding to your effectiveness. Try to discourage such gifts at holiday time.

Perhaps, you’re making too many copies of things for other people to see? Substitute mass e mails or faxes instead. Are you drowning in unread magazines? Don’t bother with guilt at not having read them, you’re burdening yourself unnecessarily. Besides, there’s always something new for you to read. If you don’t want to toss them out, you can give away old publications to a bedridden friend, a good cause, your dentist’s office or a recycling bin. As long as you unburden your desk from clutter, you’re accomplishing your purpose.

Take every opportunity to obtain and preserve empty space by getting rid of clutter. Do this for yourself both physically and mentally. An empty drawer or shelf will always come in handy, just as opening time in your schedule for reflection can relieve your mind. Be sure to treasure your time as far too precious to be clogged with clutter.

Is clutter interfering with your communications with other people. Once you become an expert on eliminating the clutter from your own life, you will be much more capable at eliminating it from all your dealings with other people. Remember, whoever you’re dealing with is probably also fighting clutter. Try not to add to it or let that person add to yours. Brainstorm active ways you can eliminate clutter from your closest dealings with people. This will also force you to approach people in more imaginative ways.

Published: Aug 28,2008 15:34
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