Ways to Keep Sane When Work Gets Hectic
I currently work in a middle management position at a biotech company here in Boston. My role primarily involves the management of workflow in the Logistics Department, where we handle the stocking and shipping of product and orders.
Due to the nature of my role, I have a number of responsibilities in addition to the daily process, and I am frequently a resource and troubleshooter for my coworkers. It can definitely get overwhelming at times. As someone who tends to take the stress of work home with me, I have had to find ways to reduce my feelings of anxiety and create a better work-life balance.
I thought I’d pass along some of the small tips I’ve gathered:
- Get adequate sleep and drink water. Sleep and water are so important. If you don’t get enough sleep, your brain won’t function optimally — you’re memory isn’t going to be sharp, your mood is going to be low, and your judgment is impaired (see a WebMD article here, because who doesn’t love WebMD?) But seriously, though. We need to take care of our bodies first. Our bodies that are made up of 70% water. Get sleep. Drink water. Avoid migraines and all those other negative things that happen when you’re dehydrated. If your body is happy, doing your job will be that much easier.
- Turn your work email OFF. If you are not on the clock, you don’t need to have your work email on and you are under no obligation to check that inbox. So just don’t. You need your days off to really be days off.
This habit was hard for me to break — what if someone needs me for something urgent? Here’s the flip side of the coin: How often are people just emailing you because they know you’re checking your email? Is there inadequate knowledge and communication? You need to train your coworkers properly so that they know how to handle situations when you aren’t there. Then they will only text or email you when it is, in fact, urgent.
- Take your full 30 minutes. And those 15s, too. Everyone needs a break, and everyone deserves a break. It drives me a little crazy when my coworkers tell me they “don’t have time” for a break. It is your legal right (and your company’s legal obligation) to get a break. You need to make time for your break because 30 minutes away from your desk (no desk lunches!) can really be a mental refresher.
The best way to take your 15s? Get out of the office. Talk a walk around the block. I spend entirely too much time indoors and I rarely get to see the sun or have some fresh air. Getting that change of scenery can work wonders on your mental health, and can take your mind off of work at least for a few minutes. You’ll be surprised how many times you can circle a block in 15 minutes (unless, maybe, if you’re in NYC).
- Retreat to a meeting room. Due to the nature of my role it is not uncommon for me to be interrupted while in the middle of my work. Just by being in the department, my coworkers find me accessible and come to me with questions which means I’m less productive throughout the day. Sometimes you can’t avoid it and need to be in the department, but if you can, try to book a meeting room. If you are out of the department, people are much less likely to interrupt you and you can focus solely on the task at hand.
I find this tactic to be one of the most rewarding simply because you can be that much more productive, which gives you a feeling of positivity and reduces your anxiety. If you can’t take a walk outside for lunch due to crappy weather, consider hiding out in a meeting room if you need to just get away from others for a few.