Stretched thin? Thrive!

When we’re stretched thin at work we double down and try to muscle through.  We’re taught that a good work ethic means staying till it’s done, not complaining, skipping breaks and making it happen.  Unfortunately, when we do that, we may be making things worse.  Here are three tips for keeping yourself sane when the To Do list never ends:

1. Know the goal and agree on priorities: When time and resources are scarce consider scheduling more frequent check-ins with your manager and colleagues to review goals and fine tune the priority list.

2. Set expectations: “When do you need this done?” is a great question to ask when receiving a new task or project.  It helps you prioritize your work and can often reduce the anxiety of adding to the To Do list – especially when you find they don’t need it “yesterday”.   Likewise, when giving an assignment, include your expectations for deadlines.

3. Relax: More and more research shows that a quiet brain is a smarter brain.  The more stressed or harried we are, the less creative and insightful we can be.  So when you’re burning the midnight oil or working through lunch to solve a problem, you may actually be wasting time!   In fact, though it may not look productive, most revelations, insights and Aha!’s occur when we least expect them – while we’re driving, walking or taking a shower.  The shortcut to solving problems or hitting on that great idea?  Take a walk, take a nap, stare at the clouds.  Breaks throughout the day give your brain the needed rest to recharge and make those critical connections.

Human Resources and Learning Professionals:  What implications might this advice have on your strategy for productivity in the workplace?

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