We don’t have to be “control freaks” to want our work lives to stay in control.
We want and need some level of consistency and sanity. After all, this is where we spend most of our waking hours. But it’s so easy to feel beaten down at work by things that are out of our control: the economy, the market, competition, customers, employees, suppliers, etc. We’ve probably all been there. I hope this article is a refreshing reminder. So much of our working world is actually within our control. The following tips should help you feel more empowered.
1) Effort – We are in control of when we get up and how long we work. Even if we’re buried with undesirable activities, we can still carve out some extra time. It’s amazing how often that extra push is all that’s needed to come up for air. If it takes more than one week, so be it. That’s better than the constant stress. You can also try going above and beyond on finding and servicing customers. Appreciate employees a little more and watch what happens. Already working too much? Don’t feel like you have any time left? Then let’s talk about . . .
2) Efficiency – How productive do you feel on any given day?
– Are you physically capable? We are in control of our diet, exercise, and sleep habits. Don’t hesitate to make drastic changes. I can probably attribute about 25% more productivity to this strategy alone for me. I have to rearrange my whole week – but I do it.
– How are your work habits? What time of day do you work best and when do you feel sluggish? Try modifying your schedule. Work on the harder, more creative things that need quiet time when you’re at your best. Schedule things you like to do or that require interaction when you’re not.
– How do you manage interruptions? How can you guarantee that focused time? You may have to enlist the help of others. Set aside certain hours of the day or even certain days of the week as you see fit. Lock the door. Don’t accept calls. Turn your cell phone and message notifications on silent. You’re in control. You have the power. Still feel like there’s too much going on? Maybe it’s time to focus on . . .
3) Priorities – You may feel like customers, competitors and employees dictate your priorities. Remember, YOU are the business leader. Consider David Allen’s method of getting things done: do it, defer it, delegate it, or delete it. Or as Stephen Covey might say, it is NOT all important AND urgent. Sort it out. Cut your to-do list down to size. Do you feel like your list is still too large? Then you probably need to master the process of . . .
4) Strategic Planning – It’s easy to get bogged down in the daily routines and activities. Rising above with a practical strategic plan may be the best way out. At a higher level, you can align yourself and your resources to best make your vision a reality. Many activities can – and should – fall off your to-do list. You will work smarter. You may be surprised how much this affects your . .
5) Attitude – A psychologist friend once told me that neurologically, there is a gap between things that happen to us and how we respond. In that gap is a choice. Therefore, nothing and no one should be able to “make” us sad, mad, or feel hopeless at work. We do that to ourselves. We are in control of our reactions and emotions. Enjoy the ride. Appreciate your growth and learning from this experience. While you’re at it, count your blessings. I’m sure you can find others who have it worse. Do you still catch yourself worrying about what COULD go wrong? What you may need is a system for . . .
6) Risk Analysis – The first reality is that many things that feel out of our control tend to work out by themselves. We drain our energy supply with needless worry. Remember the serenity prayer. Learn how to manage other risks proactively. Document them, prioritize the list, and create your mitigation strategies. Writing it all down helps you feel more in control.
How does all this feel so far? Too clinical? Maybe it’s time to remind yourself to . . .
7) Be Yourself – Dr. Suess wrote that “no one is youer than you.” So inject some of that “youness” into your day. Spoil yourself. Find the little things that brighten your spirits. Play some music. Redecorate your office. Let your professional and personal passions shine through. Create your own little reward system for progress. Have a fun contest with co-workers. Laugh.
If none of these suggestions make you feel any better, look up. Pray for guidance and wisdom to sort through your situation. Maybe you’re in the wrong place and it’s time to move on. Or maybe – just maybe – you’re on the verge of your greatest success yet.