As an office manager, work pressure is just part and parcel of your job– between meeting tight deadlines, dealing with your staff, and trying to juggle it all.
However, excessive stress can interfere with your productivity and performance and can also impact your physical and emotional health. This will then eventually affect relationships among colleagues and home life too.
In fact, according to the CDC’s National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, studies have found the percentage of Americans who are stressed at work is high, and it’s only getting higher; the number of Americans who are “extremely stressed at work” range between 29 percent to 40 percent.
So what can you do to reduce this stress? In today’s fast-paced life, stress cannot be completely eliminated, however by a conscious effort on your part as a manager, you could try to reduce stress-causing elements at work and learn techniques to effectively manage stress.
To start to manage work pressure and work stress, it’s important to recognize the causes as this can help you pinpoint your work stress triggers and help you act to make things better. Some common workplace stressors are:
- Excessive workloads
- Longer work hours
- Job content and conflicting demands
- Lack of control in your environment
- Having too much or too little to do
- Being unclear about your job role
- Physical health
- Relationship at work
- Financial problems.
- Lack of social support
- Issues with your staff
Remember that everyone is different and will react to work stress and work pressure differently. Sometimes there’s no single cause of work stress. It might happen if small things build up over time, or due to a mix of things in both your work and personal life.
Now that you know you’re stressed, and you know why you’re stressed – now what? There are lots of ways you can help reduce the negative impact of work stress.
We have a few broad ideas and tips that can be used to alleviate your own stress, but make sure you tailor them to your workforce. Put these ideas into action; and remember, the best strategies start with leadership’s example.
1. Start Your Day Right and Prepare Ahead Of Time
The most stressful time of the day for workers is in the morning, or when they start their shift. So every morning before you get started with your day’s schedule, close your eyes and make a note of important assignments, appointments, meetings, or tasks for the day.
Assign time for each of these tasks. While doing so, prioritize your tasks in order of importance. Write it down somewhere if you’re likely to forget. This way you’ll have a tentative idea of how your day’s schedule will go, and how many tasks you’re likely to complete.
As you complete each task, you’ve got a tick mark on your list and you don’t have to unnecessarily keep thinking or be worried about how to manage your work and your team. The key lies in working smarter rather than working harder.
2. Make Wellness A Part Of The Workplace
Since stress can affect us physically and mentally, doing what you can to keep yourself and your employees healthy can combat stress. There are several ways you can encourage wellness in your workplace that you can also benefit from.
It can be as simple as providing healthy snacks and encouraging breaks, up to providing free fitness memberships, free health coaching, and therapy, or free checkups.
Clearly, by offering comprehensive wellness programs that entail physical, mental, and financial health, your company can create an environment that provides not only a happier and healthier workforce but also save you and your employees from the burden of stress.
3. Revamp and Organize Your Workplace
A lot of stress comes from the environment. Think about every aspect of your office space and what it does or doesn’t do for your wellness the wellness of your team.
As a manager, it is smart to promote an organized and clean environment that can help alleviate workplace stress. For example, avoid clutter in your workplace– try to use folders to segregate documents related to various projects and keep them neatly stacked in the available storage space. Getting important files and documents easily without having to dig up a pile and search for them can save time and effort, save panic, and keep you in control of a situation.
If possible, you can also update the office with an upbeat color scheme, additional plants, or new silverware. If you have space, think about adding a ping pong or foosball table to allow employees to take their minds off of their stress for a few minutes. Any changes that increase employee enjoyment will also leave you feeling less stressed.
4. Maintain A Healthy Work-Life Balance
Chronic stress is one of the most common health issues in the workplace. To avoid the negative effects of chronic stress and burnout, it’s important to maintain a work-life balance. We need time to replenish and return to our pre-stress level of functioning. This recovery process requires “switching off” from work by having periods of time when you are neither engaging in work-related activities nor thinking about work.
To achieve this, make time for something you love – other than work – and give it the time it deserves. It will energize and refresh you, and enable you to nurture the creative thought that is essential to every office manager.
Lastly, try to schedule some phone calls or coffee time with some of your friends or family and catch up on other things that interest you. Don’t hesitate to make time for a holiday and book in breaks, at least quarterly. Even a long weekend every quarter is better than nothing.
5. Develop Good Relationships With Your Team Members
Working alone and burying your stress is a bad idea. If you try to ignore the problem, it’s only going to become more severe. Instead, reach out to your team members who care about you, and talk to them about your stress. In turn, they may be able to make recommendations about how to deal with your stress in a healthier way or offer support in other ways.
In addition, don’t be afraid to acknowledge when you need help. Our work culture demands that we take on as much work as possible, but taking on too much can be destructive in more than one way.
If you’ve got a team of employees working under you, consider delegating some of your less important tasks to one of your least busy team members. You don’t have to do everything by yourself, so stop trying to!
At the end of the day, don’t forget to make friends and recognize your employees. They will appreciate you and this makes them happier and more comfortable, in turn developing a more positive working environment.
6. Work Regular Hours and Take The Breaks You’re Entitled To
If you have a heavy workload, taking regular breaks throughout the day may seem like the last thing you should do. But it may well be the best. Working without breaks is much more likely to affect your performance and productivity in a negative way, whereas taking just 20 minutes off for lunch and regular mini-screen breaks can help make you feel refreshed and more focused.
That’s why it’s critical that you disconnect from time to time and take those breaks you’re entitled to, in a way that fits your needs and preferences. When possible, take time off to relax or take a walk outside your office, so you come back to work feeling reinvigorated and ready to perform at your best.
Lastly, set work hours for yourself and do everything in your power to stick to them. Otherwise, before you know it, you’ll be working more than you should every day.
7. Address Conflict Without Adding To It
Conflicts are going to happen at any organization – whether it’s between coworkers or managers, it’s inevitable. Although, what you do with that conflict determines if it’ll be a stress point or not.
As an office manager, it is your duty to be the glue that holds your team together. It means that if there’s a fight between employees, it needs to be addressed properly and positively. Ignoring conflict doesn’t make it go away. It makes it get bigger.
And of course, you should also stay away from interpersonal conflict with anyone because it takes a toll on your physical and emotional health. Conflict among co-workers is so difficult to escape, it’s a good idea to avoid conflict at work as much as possible.
That means don’t gossip, don’t share too many of your personal opinions about religion and politics, and try to steer clear of colorful office humor. Try to avoid those people at work who don’t work well with others. If conflict finds you anyway, learn how to deal with it appropriately.
8. Set Clear Goals For Your Team Members
As an office manager, it is about time to set clear goals for your team members. By setting clear goals, your team members do not have to think long and hard about what their initial task was supposed to be. It gets them going and focus on the important task at hand, instead of doing it their way, which could lead them on the wrong track.
This would also mean valuable time lost and they having to redo it again or you would have to do it for them. In turn, it will give you additional workloads that might be a stressor. So setting clear goals for your team gives you and your team members peace of mind because you all know what you need to focus on and why.
9. Find A Way To Help Your Employees More
Oddly enough, when you help other people, you feel great. In fact, an American Journal of Public Health study found that when someone was dealing with stress but helped others, they reduced the physical dangers associated with stress.
It sounds crazy — when you’re super stressed, who has time to help someone else? However, turning your attention from yourself to someone else can relieve the self-feeding negativity that serious stress creates.
So if you’re feeling stressed, try to reach out to your team members, take on additional tasks, and help them with their stuff. This not only helps you manage your own stress but also makes you an effective manager.
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10. Stop Micromanaging Your Employees
As a manager, it’s your responsibility to make sure things go right. However, while offering a helping hand, make sure that your employees’ responsibilities don’t add up to your own stress.
So stop micromanaging every task at hand. When you continually strive for excellence, it’s easy to strive for perfection, but striving for perfection can be a bad thing. In fact, a study conducted by Thomas Curran, states that perfectionism can severely affect your overall mental health that can cause anxiety and depression. Being a perfectionist can drive you and the people around you a little nuts. Especially in busy, fast-paced jobs, you may not be able to do everything perfectly.
Remember that your employees are all capable of doing their own tasks. Your main role is to supervise them and encourage them, not to scrutinize every detail of their performance. So try to refocus your time and energy by establishing more reasonable expectations for yourself and your team. Striving to just do your best and then congratulating yourself on the effort is a good strategy. Your results will actually be better and you’ll be much less stressed at work.
11. Learn To Accept What Is In Your Control, and What Isn’t
Speaking of perfectionism, you should know that some things are out of your control. So stop focusing on your shortcomings and don’t try to be what you cannot be. Each of us has limitations that we need to understand. Instead, find ways to make the things that are out of your control more bearable.
For example, getting stressed about the traffic on the way to work is completely unhelpful. The best you can do is leave early enough so you have plenty of time to get to work. You can’t control the traffic, but you can control when you leave home. Make changes to what you can control. The rest is not worth getting upset about.
Moreover, if you have an unrealistically heavy workload, admitting that you can’t do it all is the first step towards getting the situation back under control. Thinking that working a bit longer or a bit harder will help you catch up is a fantasy. If you have more work than you can complete now, chances are your inbox will be even fuller tomorrow.
Instead, try to take control of the situation. And one of the most important ways to do just that is to get used to saying ‘no’ to those who keep piling the work on top of you, or at least to make sure they have more realistic expectations of you. If you don’t, the quality of your work could suffer, you may miss deadlines and you could become so exhausted, stressed, and your health will be affected too.
12. Forget Multitasking
Multitasking may seem like a smart way to achieve more in a shorter period of time, but the truth is that multitaskers may actually be less efficient. In fact, multitaskers actually experience more stress, and the effects of multitasking linger once the tasks are complete, resulting in persistent fractured thinking and lack of focus.
In other words, multitasking is affecting our brain and stress levels even when we’re not doing it. There is a certain kind of frazzled feeling that comes from splitting one’s focus that doesn’t work well for most people.
If you want to reduce stress as an office manager, time management is a more valuable tool than multitasking. We all have too much to do at one time or another. The best way to tackle that mountain of tasks is to do one thing at a time and do it well.
13. Limit Distractions While At Work
Distractions could come in various forms: social media sites, email notifications, gossip, or even phone calls from friends. Such interruptions can break your flow of thoughts and reduce focus.
You’ll need considerable time to get your thought process back on track thereby increasing the time you take to complete your work or to reach your deadlines. Deadlines are often the biggest cause of stress in the workplace. At the end of the day, you’ll wonder why you’ve not been able to complete the tasks you’d scheduled for the day.
As an office manager, you have a lot on your plate and your productivity depends on the work environment around you. It’s almost impossible to stay focused on completing tasks when there is a big number of office distractions. So do everything in your power to avoid these distractions and stick to your plans.
Choose a simple solution such as locking your smartphone in the drawer if it eats up a lot of your working time, or informing your friends that you only pick up calls during lunch break. Whatever method you use, you can be sure that it’s for the best, and it will be reflected in your work moving forward.
14. Eat A Balanced Diet and Do Some Regular Exercise
This advice has been given many times but just because it’s a cliche doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Try to make time at lunch to go outside and walk, and it may well be the most important hour of your day– You may return energized and clear-headed, ready for a productive afternoon.
This bit of advice is helpful for anyone, not just managers. According to the American Psychological Association, one of the best things you can do to manage stress is to lead a healthy lifestyle. This includes, but is not limited to, getting enough quality sleep every night, eating appropriately portioned, healthy meals throughout the day, drinking plenty of water, and getting enough physical exercise.
Cumulatively, these activities will increase your overall health, improve your mood, and make you more resistant to certain forms of stress. It takes time to incorporate these habits into your life but is well worth the effort.
15. Develop A Positive Thinking Style
We all know people who start their jobs with a chip on their shoulder and seem to set out to make everyone miserable. We don’t want that! So whether you’re a new manager or an old one, make it a goal to develop a positive thinking style.
It’s true that not everyone is outgoing or makes friends easily, and no one is asking you to make your team members your best friends. But you can set out to be positive towards them, avoiding negativity as much as is in your control.
Difficult days are inevitable and there are times when stress can suck out the best in you. To overcome this, start by developing your emotional intelligence– it is a soft skill, encompassing everything from the way you listen, communicate and resolve conflict to how your teams work together and stay motivated.
So practice the art of actively listening, recognize more people, offer a helping hand, and be more generous with your smile! Reducing negativity can be a huge relief especially if you’re able to create a positive atmosphere in your office.
Try to focus more on your positive aspects, your achievements, and accomplishments rather than lamenting about the negatives. Having a positive mindset will improve your self-esteem and help you feel motivated to achieve your goals.
Deciding to be positive can go a long way toward relieving job stress. It can make some situations go away, and if you persist, it can give you a better attitude about them so you don’t feel the stress nearly as much as you might have otherwise.
Work stress is a part of life most of us will deal with from time to time. But learning the right ways to cope can help make your daily grind a little more enjoyable.
No single formula can handle every problem. Just remember that the best managers aren’t the only ones who actively manage employees and tasks, they’re also the ones who flexibly adapt to new situations.
The fact is, many of the things you become stressed by at work are not as dramatic as you often make them out to be. If you can keep work events from a reasonable perspective, that’s a solid first step to keeping stress under control.
Lastly, perform a little self-analysis at the end of each working day. Ask yourself what worked today, what didn’t, what went wrong, and how the issue can be fixed. Remember there are thousands of office managers just like you learning the same lessons every day. Don’t forget to tap into the valuable resources around you – your peers – for help.
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