Bad Day at Work? 10 Tips to Help You Make It Through
Work is stressful. There are deadlines to meet, bosses to please, customers to help, and it can feel like people are pulling you from every direction. Before you have a Steven Slater meltdown and pull the emergency chute -- whatever it may be at your workplace -- take time to reflect and find ways to survive your worst days at work.
Here are our top 10 tips for surviving your worst work days. U.S. News & World Report has 40 others, but we'll just expand on the highlights.
1. Don't promise what you can't deliver.
Everyone wants to look like a superhero at work who can get everything done. But there are only 40 hours in a work week, so don't take on too much or you'll look worse for not getting it all done. Your boss will be disappointed when you can't get the job done in time, so it's best to think ahead on this recommendation and not promise something you can't complete.
2. Take regular breaks.
Work is mentally and physically tiring, so taking a few 10-15 minute breaks throughout the day can re-energize you and make getting back to work a lot easier. Take a walk around the block. Federal law requires that they be paid breaks, so don't let your employer hassle you for taking them.
3. Don't skip breakfast or lunch.
Just like a child in school, regular meals are important to keep the mind and body working at work. If you're having a bad day at work and feel stressed, think about whether you skipped a meal on that day. Chances are you did and were too rushed to eat. Mom was right: Breakfast is important.
4. Make some friends and allies at work.
This will help lower your stress by knowing you have someone covering your back if something goes wrong and you're not there to hear it. At a time when layoffs are common, it's a good idea to have someone in your corner who will speak up about the great work you do if a list of employees to be laid off is being formed. Start by meeting regularly with your immediate supervisor and letting them know each week what you're up to and how you will accomplish your shared goals for the week. Then start meeting with higher-up bosses and ask if they'll mentor you.
5. Stop trying to multitask.
You may think you're saving time by writing an e-mail, reading a report and talking on the phone at the same time, but you're not. Research shows that doing multiple tasks at once is more time consuming and can harm your health. You want to do a lot of work, but you also want to do it well.
6. Remind yourself of what's really important in life.
Photos of your family on your desk can help remind you, but if you're away from your desk, stop and take a breath and remember what's most important in your life. Your children, for example, are more important than the most stressful work task. Your purpose in life isn't to get stressed at work.
7. Seek work that suits your personality.
Maybe dealing with inconsiderate people in an airplane and trying to referee fights over overhead bins isn't suited for you. If you're in a job that doesn't feel right, then start exploring jobs that match how you work best. Do you like to work alone? Do you work best in groups? Whatever your personality, there's a job to match it.
8. Learn to manage your boss.
This is a tough one, but if you can figure out how to manage your boss, your life will be a lot easier. It will take some trial and error, and learning from other employees, but it will keep him or her out of your hair and allow you to do your work to your best abilities. Find out if your boss is a micromanager and wants constant updates; if so, provide them. If your boss is more hands off, then enjoy it and find out how often they want to know what you're up to. Empathize with your boss to help them become better at what they do.
9. Get a hobby that makes you happy.
Just like reminding yourself what's really important when you're stressed out at work, having a hobby to get to when you get home can make the problems at work less of a headache. This step includes having a life outside of work, meaning you're not working long hours and have something to talk about other than what's going on at work. Find a sport, reading group or anything else that relaxes you to keep you occupied with anything other than work when you're away from work.
10. Ask for help when you need it.
Unlike the JetBlue flight attendant, you don't have to deal by yourself with a problem. Slater could have asked another flight attendant for help, but he pulled an emergency chute and escaped with beers in hand. If you're overwhelmed at work, ask for help. You'd be surprised at how many co-workers will come forward to help out. When asking someone to join your project, be sure to remind them that you "owe them one" when they need help.
If none of those tips works and you're still getting frustrated at the little things at work, then it may be time for some counseling.
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