You're at your seriously cluttered desk. The phone rings for the nineteenth time in the last hour. And then the boss comes in, breathing fire and brimstone. There's just too much to do, and you hear yourself saying 'If people would stop interrupting me I'd get some work done.' Bottom line - you're getting stressed!
Four tips to minimise the pressure
1. See each task or responsibility is an opportunity, not a chore
It's not always possible to get excited about a task, but try turning it into a game - 'How quickly can I clear these tasks; return the emails; answer the calls?' You might not have time to reply in full, but people are often quite happy if they know you've heard them. Even if it's just a message saying you're going to do something soon, they feel valued.
Think about the last bad tradesperson you employed. Chances are he didn't let you know he was delayed, and you mucked around waiting for him to turn up. Am I right? How terrible if that was the talk on the streets about your organisation.
2. Put the systems under the 'efficiency' microscope
There's always something we can improve in our business. Notice the things people ask for; listen for little clues. Most people won't start off cranky - they'll try polite requests at first. Does anything crop up frequently? Even if you fix it quickly, it's a marker-post to an opportunity.
3. Attitude is king
A surly customs agent who decided something wasn't his responsibility nearly lost a removal company a huge contract. He was just one more bad experience in a long line of significant frustrations and problems with a removal firm when one of my military sons and his family were shifting countries a few years ago.
Although he didn't work for the removal company, they were supposed to provide a door-to-door service. Instead, my daughter-in-law was left to chase their furniture through the port and so came head-to-head with the bad-tempered customs clerk, doing the bare minimum with obvious reluctance.
The whole experience was so grim that it became widely discussed in Army circles in both countries. Once people started swapping horror stories, all manner of annoyances with the same firm emerged and it came to the notice of the department in charge of contracts.
4. Language matters
What's your language? (No, I'm not talking about bad words!) Notice your words, and how the people around you speak. How often do you hear or say 'I'm so busy', 'I can't fit it in', or 'I have no time'? At the same time, notice how pressured you feel.
Instead, try phrases like, 'I can do that' or, 'I'd love to help' or 'Yes, I can get to that shortly'. When people ask how busy you are, instead of saying 'It's crazy round here', try 'I'm as busy as I choose to be' or, 'It's great'. In truth, you may still feel rather overwhelmed, but notice the sense of control you regain and how your energy lifts when you start to claim control.
First we have to decide to change the thinking. Then we exhibit it by changing our language. Then - our results change. Outcome - less stress and a greater feeling of control. Just try it.
Robyn Pearce (known as the Time Queen) is the MD of GettingAGrip.com, an international time management and productivity training company based in New Zealand. Get your free report 'How To Master Time In Only 90 Seconds' and ongoing time tips at www.gettingagrip.com