Avoid The Speed Trap
When was the last time you sent an e-mail to someone you didn't want to have get it? Or called someone and forgot who it was you called? Rushing is the standard pace of the workplace today, and it's all based on a false urgency that drives stress and mistakes that make you want to catch the next flight to Timbuktu. The medical world calls it time urgency, because it's a heart attack risk. Time urgency makes you think every minute of the day is an emergency. It jacks up impatience, annoyance and anger, which fuels stress and clogged arteries. So be aware of when you're racing and catch yourself by taking a deep breath and slowing down. You'll get the job done with more attention and less stress when you can shut off the false panic of time urgency. It's not life or death. It's only work.
Check E-mail At Scheduled Times, No More Than Once An Hour
If you have your e-mail on autopilot, checking every five minutes, that's a potential for 96 interruptions in an eight-hour day--and preparation for a bit part in the next zombie flick. The average information worker loses 2.1 hours of productivity a day to interruptions. Researchers say checking e-mail four times daily, once when you get to work, before lunch, after lunch, and before you go home is the most productive way to handle e-mail. The more control (i.e., self-management) you can exert over task practices, the less stress and chaos there is, and the more attention you can give to the job at hand.
Don't Be An Overworked Martyr
In the knowledge economy, it's not about how much punishment you can take but how fresh your brain is. MRI scans of fatigued brains look exactly like ones that are sound asleep. Don't get caught up in the self-defeating bravado of "My Ulcer's Bigger Than Yours." Driving yourself to the edge isn't heroic; it's stupid. Spending excessive time on tasks drives stress, mistakes, and lousy decision-making. It's not the quantity of hours but the quality that drives productive performance and influences how much attention and energy you can bring to the task. Hypertension and mistakes triple with chronic 12-hour days.
Find A Hobby
There's no better way to get the stress down and life on the calendar than finding a passion or pursuit you can indulge on a regular basis. No, checking tweets doesn't count as a hobby. Identify an activity you have an affinity for, maybe something you always wanted to do, and sign up for a class and get out there and do it. Studies show a clear link between frequent participation in leisure activities and life satisfaction and stress reduction.
Create A Buffer Zone Between Work And Home
To ease re-entry back into civilian life each night, you need to decompress from the day's pressure cooker. Like a deep-sea diver, you can't come back to the surface of regular life too quickly or you'll explode all over the home front. You've been in one mode all day--aggressive, competitive, objective-oriented--none of which works in your private life. Find a transitional space to bring the pressure down. Go to the gym, meditate, read, or find some calming space that can bring you back to life. Try to take at least 30 minutes for the wind-down, but even 20 minutes can help.