5 Tips to Stay Calm at Work

July 08, 2022

5-min read

Chelsea Emerick

African American man relaxed at work

"Taking the time to fully inspect your work-life balance and day-to-day boundaries is just the beginning of your journey towards staying calm at work."

The work week can fly by in an instant, making it easy to feel swept up in tasks and deadlines. Create a consistent output with our 5 tips to help you stay calm and work, along with ideas to help you restore your work-life balance. 

Pause before you say “yes”

How often have you found yourself in a situation where you are asked to do something on the fly and automatically said yes? If you find this to be a regular occurrence, this is your sign to take a moment to reflect. This will automatically help you in staying calm at work.

It can be tempting to add small tasks to our plates, but if we make a habit of saying yes so easily these small tasks can pile up and distract us from the work we’re trying to focus on. 

Saying yes can be an easy way to appease our managers and colleagues, but it can also add unnecessary pressure to our workload. It's important to set boundaries and have realistic expectations of what you can achieve in a week. 

There's no shame in telling your colleague that you'll get back to them about whether or not you can take on a task. Use this time to understand what is being asked of you, if your specific skills are needed and if you have the capacity to take on this task. 

How to recognise the “yes” factor

Does the task at hand hit one or more of the following criteria?

  • This task is a quick win and won’t impose on my current priorities.
  • This task requires my unique skills or abilities and can’t be delegated.
  • This task is something I enjoy doing.
  • This task is something that will help enrich my skills or abilities.

Set reasonable deadlines for yourself

Similarly to saying “yes” to tasks that come your way, it can be tempting to try and conquer tasks great and small as fast as possible. This often is the opposite of what it takes to create consistent quality work. Jumping from one task to another can make us feel scrambled.

In your process of recognizing what you can take on, it’s important to give yourself adequate timeframes to work within. If too short, you may find yourself rushing to complete tasks, overlooking necessary details and making mistakes. 

Creating reasonable deadlines for yourself requires open communication with your colleagues about what is a realistic output for you. Speaking up regularly about what you can achieve will not only boost your confidence, but you’ll also yield a consistent result in your output that your coworkers will notice.

Diverse team discussing a project

Pave the way for others

Perhaps you find yourself in a work environment where there’s a rush to get things done across the board. In being honest with your team about what you can get done you may be starting a company-wide conversation about realistic deadlines. 

By advocating for yourself and creating decent timeframes you’ll be able to give tasks your undivided attention, creating focus and calm within your work day. There’s nothing wrong with saying “I can have this done by Friday for you.” This will reinforce your boundaries and help create realistic expectations of your time. With these boundaries in place, you’ll be able to stay calm at work and in control of your workload. 

Tips for navigating an unreasonable deadline:

  • Be honest about your capacity to take on the task.
  • Offer a solution if you can’t take on a task, for example, “I don’t think I can get this done this week, but I can make time for it next week.”
  • Set aside a limited amount of time for small tasks, such as an hour in the morning.
  • Create a minimum timeframe that you can complete tasks in such as 3 days or a week. 
  • Be confident in your output and remember that you’re aiming for consistent quality, not quantity.

Create a healthy balance

Regardless of whether you work remotely or in an office, it’s important to create an even balance of work and home in order to stay calm at work. It can be tempting to work past quitting time to resolve a problem but allowing yourself to blur the line between work time and personal time can actually do more harm than good. 

In our recent Employee Mental Health & Remote Working Report the pressure of long work days found that “68% of employees (...) have experienced increasingly poor mental health at work over the last year” in the finance industry alone. While most of us may not work on Wall Street, we can all relate to working late in order to finish something whether it be at a boss's request or our own. 

The bare minimum

Creating a set time where you start and finish your work day is essential in creating a healthy balance and restoring calm in the workplace. It’s important to consider this the bare minimum. If you’re a remote worker this can mean allotting a regular start and end time to your day, if you’re an office worker this may mean ensuring you leave the office by 5.

Tips for creating a healthy balance:

  • Have a set start and end time for your workday.
  • Prioritize your lunch break like you would a meeting.
  • Step away from your screen regularly throughout the day.
  • Get out of the house/office at least once a day for a break.
  • Avoid bringing work home with you.
  • Create a list at the end of your day/week to carry on with when you’re back at work.

Two millennial women laughing together

Log out and tune in

In order to prioritize a healthy balance and stay calm at work, it’s important to be able to unplug. It can be tempting to keep up with work emails or slack messages outside of work hours when mindlessly scrolling. However, in order to pause the ever-running list of work tasks in your mind, you must be able to separate yourself from the workday. 

Take a moment to assess how often you spend checking your work accounts out of hours. You may find you need to clear out apps like Slack from your personal phone or keep your work email address logged in only on your laptop. For those who work across social media, this can be especially helpful in restoring a healthy work-life balance. 

Creating a routine at the end of your workday can be a great way to signify a shift into personal time. Depending on your preference this could be anything from getting some exercise, making yourself a snack or connecting with friends and family. Tuning into your personal life and creating boundaries for yourself with your work will help maintain calm at work as you’ll feel yourself experiencing a healthy balance.

Ideas to help log out of work mode and tune into your personal life:

  • Start a hobby as part of your end-of-the-day routine.
  • Try something new like yoga or a restaurant to pull you into the present after work.
  • Get outside in the fresh air.
  • Put your phone or other devices away so you’re less inclined to scroll.
  • Avoid using your phone as an alarm clock (bonus points if you keep it out of the bedroom entirely)

Exercise

It’s common knowledge that regular exercise provides many benefits, but it can easily be overlooked when the rush of the workweek is in full swing. While it may seem simple, keeping an exercise routine despite a busy schedule can make a big difference and help you stay calm at work. 

A great way to add exercise to your week is to make it incidental, like walking a couple of blocks to the office by parking a little further away or opting to take the stairs. Small tricks like this can be a great boost, but shouldn’t be considered a substitute for a routine. 

Find something that you like and stick to it

There’s no choice when it comes to exercise, much like any hobby it’s entirely personal to your preferences. Perhaps you like to swim laps, practice jiu-jitsu, or even throw tires. There’s no need to pressure yourself to be the next Olympic champion, just commit to thirty minutes of an activity that you enjoy and do it at your own pace. From acrobatics to Zumba, there’s an exercise out there that you’re sure to like. 

The idea of adding to your existing routine can be a stressful thought, so it’s important to find something that feels fun too. It’s all well and good to decide to start a running routine, but if it fills you with dread you may find yourself avoiding it more than actually doing it. 

A regular exercise routine can help with mental clarity and focus, giving you a strong mindset and helping you maintain calm at work. It can also help you connect with others, you may find yourself working amongst a team of avid tire throwers or lap swimmers!

Tips to find an exercise that suits you:

  • Explore your interests a little deeper and see if anything connects to an activity, like music is to dancing, or nature is to hiking.
  • Show an interest in what friends, family and colleagues do for exercise and see if seems interesting to you.
  • Block out some time in your week to try a few exercises on for size until you find one that fits.

Taking the time to fully inspect your work-life balance and day-to-day boundaries is just the beginning of your journey towards staying calm at work. Having a routine to fall back on can help enormously when things go awry at work, allowing you to take a step back and objectively assess points of stress and solutions for moving forward.

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