Applying emotional intelligence in the workplace

Feeling over-whelmed?

31 Aug 2018

It is all too easy, when you are already feeling over-worked, to allow thinking about the list to become a pre-occupation.  And this only serves to make the list feel bigger, longer, more pressing that it was already.  It can begin to take on a life of its own. 


Take a moment to disrupt this flow of thinking.  If you don't do something about it, it will lead to a tidal wave. 

First of all, take a few slow, deep breaths to help gather your thinking; as you breathe in, feel your body calming and your thoughts slowing.  As you breathe out, feel some of the tension leave with your breath.  Do this for a few minutes, concentrating on the slow, deep rhythm of your breathing.  If you have the time you could go for a walk in the park.  If you don't quite feel ready for the park, walk away from your desk and look out of the window, this helps to break your pattern of thinking.

Now, in this space, set a few ground-rules:

1.  This is not about you.  Don’t think of this as something about you as an individual; don't take it personally.  There is a whole world of stuff going on out there; work, life, other people, all going on continually and contributing to this feeling of busyness.  You have a key part to play in managing this, but it is not all down to you.

2. Recognise the achievements.  When you are so wrapped up in all there is to do it is all too easy to focus on all that you have to do and forget to notice all that you have achieved.  Take a moment to recognise all the positive skills you have, and notice the list of things you have achieved; accept how great you are and do a bit of positive ‘self-talk’.  When you write the new ‘to-do-list’ don’t throw away the last one, keep it somewhere visible to remind you that whilst you have an ever increasing list of things to do, you have done a great deal already.  At the end of the day take a moment to celebrate your day' achievements.

3. Work in small bursts.  We work best in small stints (generally about 25min at a time) so plan to work on one action at a time and for a short period only.  Focus on one activity, resisting the pressure of the list to push its way into your thinking, take a short break to disrupt your thinking (coffee, talk to a neighbour, go for a walk), then tackle the next small chunk.

4. Track your time.  When you are feeling over-whelmed it can be difficult to recognise how much time you are spending on each element, and how much you are eating into your personal/ family time too.  Begin to keep a simple track, perhaps in 30min blocks, of how you use your time.  This will help you keep a balance on how you are spending your time and also recognise just how much time things take to do – this will help you to not over-commit in the future.

5.  Check how much pressure you are applying to yourself.  Look for modal operators of necessity “I must…” “I need to..”  Ask yourself whether you are applying more pressure to yourself than you would to others in a similar position?  Cut yourself a little slack.  And when you find yourself using these words try changing them to words with less pressure “it would be nice if I could…”

6. Review your list.  Now that you are beginning to take back control, review your list.  Is everything on the list really essential?  And if it is, is it necessary that you are the person to do it?

What can you DELETE?

What can you DELEGATE?

What is it that you should DO?

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