Saturday, June 28, 2014

Slowing down at work

It's been a long old week and next week will feel longer - lots going on at work, which is a mixed blessing. On the one hand it's interesting work, and I'm really enjoying the sense that I'm increasingly competent and increasingly confident in what I do. On the other hand, long hours mean tired Nickie with no time for housework, crafting, or quality time with friends and family.

A few months ago it got very busy and I started showing early signs of burnout, so I've been working on several tips and tricks recently to try to manage the stress so it doesn't have such an impact on my health. I thought I'd share a few tips for slowing down in a busy work life here with you:

1. Tortoise not hare.

When you rush because you're busy, you make mistakes and have to go back and correct them. (Or at least I find this). This is stress-making for you and your colleagues. When it's super busy, it's even more important to take an extra moment just to check you haven't made any silly mistakes or typos. I'm finding that by telling colleagues I'd like a little more time to get it right and then delivering a better document, they are more relaxed with me about deadlines because they know they can rely on me. I know the work is piled high but better to do it once well than several times badly.

2. Avoid stimulants.

Coffee and sugar make me jittery and I find myself navigating peaks and troughs of energy. I'm finding that limiting the coffee and drinking green tea and water really helps me maintain a steady focus and keep a good pace of work. Eat fruit, raw vegetables and nuts as snacks if you get hungry, and avoid a heavy lunch. (Some people at my work eat pizza or lasagna every day - I have no idea how they avoid falling asleep afterwards.)

3. Tune out the stress.

Offices are noisy places, especially open plan offices. People are talking on the phone, having impromptu team meetings, receiving text messages and tap-tap-tapping on keyboards. Block it out. Bring a pair of headphones and listen to something online or on a music player if you have one. Music is good - programmes like deezer or spotify allow you to stream music free. Radio is also possible - BBC radio is available anywhere in the world for free. Personally, I'm preferring the many youtube videos offering 10 hours of the sea washing up and down a beach, of crickets or birdsong, or meditational noises like wind chimes. I can almost feel my heart slow down as I breath more deeply.


  1. They sound like good tips that anyone could do. Love the idea of streaming calming noises through headphones. I used to work in open plan offices and I so wish this had been an option then.

    1. I'm increasingly finding that tips for slowing down and reducing stress in the home also apply at work. The calming noises are BRILLIANT! Not quite as good as genuinely having a meadow full of birdsong outside an open window but it's a step closer.

  2. I finally got up to date with the modern world this month and bought a smart phone, and one of the first apps I downloaded was the 'rainy mood' app. I love it. It calms me down no matter how stressed I am feeling.

    Look out from a blog post from me in the next couple of days, by the way.

    1. Yay, welcome back to blogland!

      Why does rain make us calm, I wonder? Is it a cultural memory of rainy days when you couldn't go out so just had to sit in by the fire and do odd jobs?



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