Stress. We feel it all week, from that moment on Sunday night when the upcoming week creeps up on us until the last minute of work on Friday. Then we stress all weekend about how much stuff we didn’t have time to get done all week. We waste a lot of time and potential for productivity because we’re not being conscientious enough with the way we use our time, myself included. As I approach my own return to work from a few weeks of hiatus, I’m planning on implementing new techniques and strategies to help ease the stress of all “the little things” that eventually became burdens that burned me out when I was already running on fumes. For a lot of people, weekly planning revolves around meal prep for lunch and dinner, but there are many other ways to create a balance for even the most chaotic of lifestyles. When you employ these seemingly small habits, you set up a proper foundation of structure and organization that will aid in de-stressing your life overall.
Here are 10 small ways to help relieve some stress in your every day work life…
1. Fill up your gas tank on Sunday.
You don’t want to get into your car on Monday morning only to see your dashboard light up signaling an empty gas tank, especially not when you’re probably already suffering from a case of the Mondays and are running late in the morning. Fill up your tank before the start of your week and avoid that unwelcome surprise in the AM.
2. Prepare snacks for your workday.
I’m not a big morning eater. I can usually wait until lunch. But I have a tendency to get super hungry just before the end of my workday. And if I have errands to run after work, I absolutely have to eat something to hold me over until I get home and have dinner. I like to keep a variety of flavors available for whatever taste I have at the moment, so I keep granola bars, peanut butter, and a snickers bars in my desk drawer at work for that end-of-day snack.
3. Use a planner/organizer.
This cannot be overstated. I, personally, have to see things written out in front of me, so electronic calendars give me a headache. I keep a journal-style planner to schedule meetings, errands, appointments, weekend and after work events, etc. I like to have it all in one place where I can see it plainly. Most importantly – I use it to help figure out what every day looks like and how much free time I actually have – and then make good use of it.
4. Prepare your work wardrobe for the week on Sunday.
Eliminate all those wasted morning minutes staring into your closet with pure disdain for everything in it – you know those precious minutes that make you late heading out the door and hit all that unnecessary traffic that doesn’t help with the positive attitude and motivation you’re trying to build up to get through the workday. When you have your clothes picked out, not only do you save time, but also frustration and hassle which impact the mood that you start your day with.
5. Set an alarm on your phone.
No, not a wake up alarm. Set an alarm to tell you to go to bed in the evening. This is something I definitely want to try. A friend of mine sets an alarm 9 hours before she has to wake up in the morning to urge her to start to get ready for bed and another one 8 hours before she has to wake up so she knows to be in bed at that time. Creating a sense of urgency about going to bed helps instill a sleep pattern in your mind and eventually (hopefully) you won’t even need the alarm anymore.
Tip: If you have an iPhone with the most updated software, go into your “Clock” app and hit “Bedtime.” It will walk you through setting up a sleep schedule.
6. Create a playlist.
Or download a book or podcast to listen to during commute. We all need to listen to something during our trips to and from work that bring good vibes and help renew/restore energy throughout the week. Those of us who drive don’t have to miss out on the opportunity to engage in a good book or learning experience. Most books are available on audio and there are tons of podcasts to choose from to break up the monotony of the radio shows that are typically available in your area.
7. Grocery shop on Fridays after work.
It’s probably the last thing you want to do, but you’ll thank yourself for it when you don’t have to stand in Saturday or Sunday morning to-the-back-of-the-store lines. Friday evening is the emptiest they will be all weekend and because you’re tired, you’ll be less inclined to mosey through the stores browsing through items you know you don’t need. Have your list ready, get what you need, and move onto the rest of your weekend plans.
8. Set a designated laundry/cleaning schedule.
For each day of the week. Separating and distinguishing household tasks for each day of the week breaks down that endless list of to-dos and helps you pace yourself rather than trying to do it all on your one day off when all you really want to do is lay on the couch or go out.
9. Leave work on time everyday.
This is a tough one because as we all know, our work at work is never actually done. But it’s so important. I’ve been working a long time and in a variety of fields, so I say this with conviction and for the benefit of your mental and emotional health – if your job doesn’t pay you overtime for staying past your shift, then leave at your designated time every single day. Of course, urgent situations will arise that might call for it, but for the most part, you really have to preserve your after work hours. There’s no significant payout for staying late. Not even peace of mind for the work you accomplished by staying late because you’ll resent the time you spent there that you can never get back.
10. Don’t feel bad about saying “no.”
Denying extra work, assignments, or favors for others – in your personal or professional life – is your prerogative. Your time and energy is just that – yours. You don’t have to feel obligated to make others comfortable by making yourself uncomfortable or wearing yourself thin. You’ll often find that people will make assumptions about the time and energy you have to spare, but you know yourself best. Don’t take on more than you’re able to do and don’t allow anyone to make you feel guilty for it.
Originally published at missmuslim.nyc