9 Tips to Keep Your Sanity at the Office


courtesy of monkeyrivertown

courtesy of monkeyrivertown

Like most people, I make my fortune working in an office everyday.  I have the luxury of working  with a great organization filled with the best people.  But there are many times when my sanity is tested, which is bound to happen when you are around people all day.


Since I see my co-workers more then my family during the week, I want to be sure I maximize the time with my family.  The last thing I want to do is bring home work stress to the family.   I also want to maintain professional, friendly relationships with my co-workers so we can help each other achieve our goals.

Below are 9 tips that I try to remember to make it through the day:

  1. Get Sleep.  Yes, it sounds so basic, but it really makes a difference.  Your body will tell you how much you need.  For me, it’s about 6.5 hours. Waking from a deep sleep will leave you refreshed, allow you to focus, and your demeanor first thing in the morning will be pleasant for your co-workers.  
  2. Wake earlier.  Along with getting more sleep, try waking up earlier.  Begin making the change in small increments, perhaps 15 minutes earlier each week for a few weeks.  Take the extra time to catch up on reading, reflect, and prepare for the day.  Also, take the time to plan your most important tasks for the day (refer to this post on Zen Habits.)
  3. Maintain a clean work environment.  Take the time to maintain a clear, useful, work area that you look forward to seeing every morning.   Clutter creates stress and gives the perception you are unorganized.  Before you leave, take a few minutes to clean up.
  4. Find a system for tracking tasks/projects. Whether its GTD, a yellow note pad, an excel spreadsheet, or a stack of post-its, find a way to track your tasks.  No, your brain won’t work here: it’s slow, quickly forgets, and gets clogged up easily.  You need to keep your tasks out of your head so you can focus on completing your work.  Be sure you carry something portable since you never know when you will think of a new task.
  5. Schedule yourself time.  With today’s calendering tools, we essentially offer up our time to anyone willing to take it.  Don’t be a slave to your calendar.  If you require time to focus, schedule a meeting with yourself.  You are the only person who can schedule a meeting with yourself anytime.
  6. Get email under control.  Email…a necessary evil that seems to suck the life out of us.  Get your email under control by doing a couple of things.  Learn how to write a better email, which will save you a lot of time (see my post on this subject.)  Also, don’t be a slave to your email.  Limit yourself to only checking emails at certain times during the day so you can maintain focus on more important things.  Finally, “train” your peers/co-workers on how to effectively use email.  Some examples include asking them not to CC: you on everything, don’t send time wasters (i.e. jokes, ) and explaining how you trying to curb your time spent on email.
  7. Be selfish about your time. Related to scheduling yourself time, don’t let other people (including your boss) steal your time.  Meetings are a great example.  It’s not rude to ask for discussion topics/agenda prior to accepting a meeting request. Also, don’t hesitate to cut off the “drop by” conversation.  Develop the mindset that your time is valuable and it’s not cheap.
  8. Single Task.  Multi-tasking is very 80’s.  Try to limit yourself to performing one task at a time.  Prepare and focus yourself to complete that one task as best your can.  When starting a task, visualize what it will feel like when you are done.
  9. When the day is over…walk away.  When it’s time to go home, simply walk away.  If you can, visualize what you will be working on tomorrow.  Subconsciously, your brain will prepare itself for the next day so you will be ready to start fresh.  Try to adhere to a set schedule as best you can so you can spend your off time on the things you enjoy outside of work.  

Hope you find some value from these tips.  Share any that you have!


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My name is Greg Syferd. Here I share my thoughts, ideas, and random stuff I come across. For work, I am a Systems Manager at the Columbus Metropolitan Library. When unplugged I'm a husband/father, read books, and aspire to be a photographer.
Follow me on Twitter @ http://twitter.com/gsyferd

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