Our culture rewards sooner, better, faster. It’s almost as if society is telling us “if you’re not stressed, you’re not important.”
When you buy into this lifestyle, you feel overcommitted and overwhelmed. Spending too much time at work has become a chronic problem in the United States. Yet in today’s volatile economy, people spend more time on the job – giving up personal and family time – for fear of losing their jobs.
When we don’t have time for our friends, our families, and ourselves, our stress level goes up. Yet now, more than ever before, we desperately need to reduce stress!
Consider whether these habits describe your work life:
- You repeatedly look at your watch or clock.
- You try to do as much as possible in the least amount of time.
- You’re almost always doing more than one thing at a time.
- You get impatient with delays or interruptions.
- You seldom ask for help.
- You find yourself constantly seeking approval, respect, and admiration.
- You are overly critical of yourself and others.
- You tend to get involved in multiple projects and spread yourself “too thin.”
- You seldom have time for hobbies or time for yourself.
If that sounds like you, those may be habits you want to break. Here are some healthy ways people achieve more balance in their lives:
- Draw, paint, write, dance, play, or take part in some other creative activity.
- Exercise at some point in your day.
- Rent a comedy or inspirational movie (keep it uplifting and positive).
- Chat with friends or family, but avoid spending a lot of time talking about work.
- Pray or meditate. Prayer can help you relax, let go of the need for control, and help you find a positive focus.
Above all, learn to say no. It’s probably the hardest things you can do at work – especially when it comes to saying no to your supervisor. It’s a problem we all have.
Why do we have such a hard time saying no? We fear that saying no will hurt our relationships or our job security. Will my supervisor think I can’t handle the work and responsibility? Will I miss out on a chance for advancement? Will I disappoint my friends if I don’t join this committee? If I don’t do it, who will?
How do you say “no” effectively so you don’t take on more than you can handle yet preserve a relationship at the same time? Here’s a great strategy: Present two positive statements, say “no,” and propose an alternative solution.
You might say, for example, “I’d really love to chair that committee. I think they are doing really important work. This year, I’m so busy at work, that I don’t think I’d give it the attention it needs. How about if I attend the committee meetings every other month and contribute that way?” This shows that you want to help in a way that you can commit to completely.
When it comes to saying no at work, use a similar strategy. “I can take on that new project but if we want to give it the attention it needs, I’ll need to delegate my [insert responsibility] work to someone else on the team. I think [coworker’s name] may be ready to take that on.”
In other words, if you want to say yes, find a positive way to say no to something else already on your plate. Above all, be honest with yourself and others about what you have the time and energy to do and do well.
By Barbara Jordan. Barbara Jordan is a personal life coach, a professional success coach, instructor, and motivational speaker and a past member of the SHRM (Society for Human Resource Managers) Diversity committee. Learn more at AdvantEdge Success Coaching or read her blog.