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10 Ways to Stay Sane (& Productive) in a Crazy Job

February 20, 2014

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Most of us get burned out or feel overwhelmed by our jobs periodically. Sometimes, we feel like all those balls we are juggling in the air are going to rain down on our heads! Under these conditions, our motivation falters and we aren’t as happy with our job. The problem is that our productivity and ability to perform plummet as well. However, we needn’t be controlled by events and crises, we can exert control over our environment and take back our sanity!

  1. Go all out for what matters the most. Balance effort with payback by making sure that your time and energy are used most with more important projects—and that you put yourself out for people that matter most, too.
  2. Do something everyday that is important to you and gives you a sense of achievement. Maybe you get satisfaction from getting that first item on your to-do list done, maybe you like an orderly desktop, or maybe getting the inbox cleared out does it for you. Whatever it is, do it.
  3. Clarify goals and expectations. Lack of clarity drains your motivation. When something is delegated or assigned to you, make sure that you understand what results are expected, how much authority you have, and what resources are available.
  4. Help set the tone. Negativity and stress at work are contagious, but so are a positive outlook and composure. Don’t be a stress carrier, and avoid those who are.
  5. Practice setting appropriate limits. Do you need to be a team player and be cooperative? Yes, and you also have a right to work reasonable hours and to say “no” to requests for favors. Be clear about what is and isn’t your job if someone is taking advantage of you.
  6. Get organized. One thing that drains us at work is when we feel out of control and overwhelmed. Even if you do have to stay late at work, take the time to clean up and organize; you’ll feel (and work) much better.
  7. Take a break. It sounds odd, but working too hard and staying too focused can decrease your productivity. Give yourself regular time-outs during the day: walk around, read something not directly related to the job, listen to music, and chat with a colleague.
  8. Encourage yourself. Give yourself praise when you do a good job and tell others about it. And take the time to do things that you enjoy professionally and personally.
  9. Take on a challenge. Whether it is a special project, a new skill, or leading a team, do something that stretches you and makes you feel a wee bit uncomfortable. Athletes don’t break records by sticking with their “best.”
  10. Develop your professional skills and grow interpersonally. Learning and professional growth provide stimulation and inspire us to do better. Studies indicate that successful people practice life-long self-development.

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