Perhaps the most common cause of stress is the feeling of being out of control – having too much to do and not enough time to do it. This can cause sleepless nights, as can feeling we have no influence over decisions that affect us, or that we can’t rely on other people to do what they’ve said they’ll do.
Here are a few simple tips to regain control and manage your stress:
Identify the time of day when you’re most effectiveUse it to tackle the big things on your list. Make sure you’re using the time effectively – the three ‘P’s are important: Prioritise, Plan and don’t Procrastinate. Do what you can to take control.
Manage expectationsDon’t over-promise or you’ll always under-deliver, so communicate early when deadlines are looking dodgy. The sooner you shout, the easier the re-negotiation usually is. Give the other person a chance (and don’t be the one that causes him or her stress!).
Accept the things that you can’t controlJack Welch of GE fame said “don’t kid yourself – it is the way it is”. I have those words of wisdom in a small frame on my desk to remind me that there are some things even I can’t sort!
Share your issues and learn from others Members of The Alternative Board say that just sharing things with other business people who really understand helps to reduce their stress levels. And the suggestions that fellow board members make to address those issues are an added benefit.
Leave work at work At this year’s Yorkshire International Business Convention in Harrogate, John Cleese explained how the subconscious works on issues when we’re asleep and why a good night’s rest can help us to reach solutions that worrying all night would never have achieved. So find your own way to switch off and give yourself permission to forget until tomorrow.
We’re all working in an environment that expects instant communication and instant action and there’s no way back to the so-called "good old days". How we manage the demands placed upon us and our ability to cope without sacrificing our enjoyment of life is up to us. Personally, I find “a trouble shared” really is “a trouble halved” – and, if I pick the right person to share it with, I’ll usually get some great advice on how to get it sorted completely.
Jo Clarkson is operations director of The Alternative Board