I often find myself in a position with more work than time to complete the work, which is probably my main source of work stress these days.
I am familiar with a feeling of panic that I will fail if I don’t get it all done and a dismay at how tired and depleted I will feel if I work the extra hours required to get to the bottom of my to do list and clear my inbox. Sometimes this goes on for days or weeks! It is at these times that my computer will run slow or the internet will go down!
But eventually everything that needs to get done is done and I experience a day or two where I have a bit more time. Heaven!
So what helps me?
Firstly, I know that working some extra hours to clear the backlog will be counterproductive – by now I know the work/life balance I need to maintain in order to flourish and am no longer willing to compromise this. A fruition of my self-compassion practice.
Secondly, I don’t buy into my concept of not having enough time, which is a fruition of my insight practice.
I remind myself that throughout the whole of my 30 years of a time pressured working life – everything important – has got done in time. This changes my perspective.
And if then by some exception something wasn’t done in time it would be an excellent opportunity to embrace failure! More opportunity for self-compassion! Then I can relax and prioritise.
I generally write what I have to do in my diary, on a date with room in it and before the job needs to be done. Then I can forget about having to remember these tasks and simply allow them to mull in the back of my mind. In this way I am not actively cluttering my mind up by thinking about them, but often simple solutions present themselves so that I can respond quickly and efficiently when it is time to address that task. I let go and trust my mind to sort it out without me interfering. This is a fruition of insight practice again!
Even so there are some weeks where there is no space in any of the days! So I will look through my week and shift less urgent tasks on a week or two – into the mulling zone. Then if it still looks too busy, I select the most important tasks to focus on, write them on a list and again let everything else go into the mulling zone!
This gives me a feeling of some control, which is reassuring. Then I remind myself not to take myself so seriously! I can always do a self-compassion break to settle myself and give perspective.
Also, I am not on my own and so one option is asking one of my colleagues to help me, which kindly they do and I am very grateful for their help and support. More compassion practice here – asking for help from others can be difficult.
Someone advised me once to only do the things that I alone can do. I would revise this to say that I only do the things that I am most suited to do, amongst my colleagues, and these days I always do things as collaboratively as possible. This shares the load and moves us all forward together.
I love my work and am highly motivated because I think it is important work in the world that can generate positive change. But I cannot do it all and much of it will do itself if I can let it mull.
It strikes me writing this how much my compassion and insight based mindfulness practice is helping me with my work time stress. Do you have this type of stress too?
We have just launched a new free online introductory course, which you might like to sign up to and which provides lots of tips on bringing mindfulness, kindness and compassion into our daily lives. It may help you.
Also, why not train in mindfulness, if you haven’t already, or continue training in compassion and insight. Here is a short video of my colleague Jane setting out our training pathway:
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