According to the experts at Forbes, the average business professional has 30 to 100 projects on their plate at any given time. Modern employees are interrupted seven times an hour and distracted up to 2.1 hours a day. Those interruptions are even worse when working from home. Not to mention the stress of job security in these uncertain times. Perhaps this is why more than 40% of adults say they lie awake at night plagued by the stressful events of the day.
Signs of work-related stress include headaches, trouble sleeping, problems concentrating, short temper, upset stomach, and job dissatisfaction. All of these things can be exacerbated by working from home, especially if this is new for you. There are steps you can take to reduce the stress, so it doesn’t take over.
- Communicate Clearly – Start scheduling one-on-one sessions with your manager or coworkers to touch base and keep the lines of communication open. Use these meetings as an opportunity to reconnect so everyone is on the same page. When working from home, don’t rely on email alone. Schedule a Zoom meeting and turn on your video so people can see your face and see how stressed you are. Using an app like Project Manager that encourages collaboration while managing tasks can be helpful to spread workload evenly, thereby reducing stress levels.
- Organize Your Workspace – Clutter = chaos. Many of us are working in spaces we never intended to be home offices, but keeping your workspace organized will ultimately help eliminate stress by allowing easier access to files, documents and whatever else you might need to find on a daily basis. Prioritize your projects and consolidate the stacks of work – you might even find you have less to do than you thought once you’re organized. If you’re still struggling to find a good place to work, think outside the box. Is there a closet that can temporarily be turned into a workspace? There are even decorative dividers you can use to make a space in the corner of a room.
- Practice Time Management – Time management is essential when it comes to meeting project deadlines without feeling stressed. It’s even harder when working from home with so many distractions. Just like organizing your workspace, you need to organize your tasks with some sort of planner, whether it’s written down old school style, on your computer or on your phone using an app. Look for something that can easily synch between your computer and your phone. Make a list of daily tasks and priorities along with approaching deadlines. You’ll get an overall picture of what to focus on each day and as long as you can keep the distractions at bay, you should be able to reduce your stress.
- Avoid Interruptions – Yes, it sounds easier than it is, but by limiting distractions and focusing on the task at hand, you can help eliminate stress. Schedule periods of time throughout the day that are not to be interrupted. If you have kids learning from home, try putting a sign on your door during these times. You may have to adjust your work schedule to work early morning hours or late evening hours to achieve this. Don’t let emails, phone calls, texts and instant messages interrupt you during this time either. While you may not have control over some interruptions, you can control your response. Let your coworkers know that you will answer emails and phone calls during certain windows. Arrange office hours for Zoom meetings and practice closing the door when you really need to focus.
You may have never thought you’d find yourself working from home and it can be stressful. But you can take steps to reduce the stress and look for the silver linings in having this time at home with your family.