Turning down the heat of work

With the 2018 UK summer heat wave set to continue into August, as much as we may be enjoying the sunshine, we’ve all felt hot and bothered at some point in the last few weeks. The climb in temperature can lead to frayed tempers and frazzled nerves. We all experience stress – at home, at work, driving…? So how can we make sure we don’t blow our lids and damage our work relationships?

Stress at work

Here are some things that may be causing your emotional temperature to rise and some possible cooling solutions:

  • Travel/commuting – Do you need to find a different route to work? Or a different mode of transport? Would sitting reading on the train for 45 mins be less stressful than sitting in your car in rush-hour traffic? Or does the possibility of a late or cancelled train mean that driving or sharing lifts with a colleague would be the less nerve-wracking option? Choose the route that will cause you the least anxiety and make sure you have plenty of time to get there. Factor delays and traffic jams into your travel time. (If you are a person who has no option but to sit (or stand) on a crowded commuter train, we understand and can empathise.)
  • Customers/clients – As customer-focused as your business may be, we all come across difficult clients from time to time – those individuals that you just can’t seem to please, no matter what. Try using SMART goals. By setting out expectations at the start of the relationship, you and your customers both know what you are working towards and can clearly see if targets have been met or not. This allows less room for argument. Listen to what the customer wants and be honest about whether that’s something you can deliver. There’s nothing that drives up the stress levels quite like unrealistic expectations. 
  • Interruptions – Are non-stop interruptions stopping you from getting anything done? How about turning off email notifications for a brief time or letting colleagues know that you need an interruption-free hour or two to concentrate on an important assignment? Could you have a face-to-face conversation with a colleague to avoid constant emails bouncing back and forth? Schedule a time to discuss a topic specifically rather than dealing with issues as they arise.
  • Too much to do – No one wants to appear incapable of managing their workload, but, realistically, sometimes there are just not enough hours in the day to do everything you need to. Do you do every task to a minimal standard or complete some assignments to a high standard while leaving others untouched? Is there work that you could be delegated elsewhere? It may be disconcerting to admit to a senior that you simply cannot do everything, but here, as in most situations, honesty is the best policy. Your manager should be able to tell you which projects they’d like you to focus on first, change deadlines and/or delegate appropriately. Even if your superior can’t (or won’t) do anything to alleviate the pressure, you’ve made them aware of the issue, so there should be no surprises later on. 
  • Take a break – I’m not saying you should walk away from your desk whenever you feel like it, but you are entitled to breaks, so use them! No matter how much work you have on, your lunch hour (or half hour) is your time. Try to physically leave your work area so you’re not tempted to let your work encroach on your free time – go for a walk or sit in a café or cafeteria. Take time out to reduce stress levels, clear your mind and refuel your body. You’ll find that a little time out will make a big difference to your productivity. 
  • Managers and colleagues – Do you work and think in a completely different way to your peers? Or your manager? Ask us about an Insights Discovery® Workshopwill help you to determine the way in which you and others around you see the world, and how to communicate with your co-workers in a style that they understand.