Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.
Every single day you wake up, it doesn’t matter how well planned your day is, there will always be something that happens to either irritate, cause a problem or knock your day off schedule.
Eg. train delays, car breaks down, mobile packs up, customer complaints, key worker calls in sick
The trick is not to get annoyed at these minor irritations and inconveniences. Remember that this is just part of life and should not distract you from your main goal or objective.
You may have to deal with them but prioritise when you will give them your attention and not at the cost of something more important. I’ve also found that if you push them to one side for a while before tackling them they quite often disappear of their own volition or something else comes along that negates them.
Don’t ignore minor irritations completely as they can sometimes come back bigger and more of a headache but treat them with the significance they deserve in relation to your ‘bigger picture’.
Tackling these minor irritations with calm
Generally speaking we can handle a minor irritation on its own, but they seem to behave like buses…they arrive in threes. So, losing your car keys is followed by the train being late and a key worker calling in sick and adding to your workload. Argh…now your stress level has risen, it feels like the worst Monday ever and your concentration has taken a nose dive.
Step 1: Deep breaths. Yes, I know it’s what grandma always used to say, well she was right. When we are irritated and angry we breathe short, inefficient breaths and it affects us physically. Long, slow breaths, in to a count of four and out to a count of four, steadies our system and delivers much needed oxygen.
Step 2: It’s not personal. The sick worker may be a flake who constantly pulls a Monday absence- so make a note to deal with it. However, they are not personally trying to make your life miserable, they are clearly not dealing with their own issues. It is their problem, which you will deal with on their return. In the meantime, cover them, do only the essential parts of their job and let it go.
Step 3: Quick reflection- could you have prevented any of these minor irritations? Always losing your keys? Note to self, install a key hook or create a place where you will always put them, come what may. Some irritations are of our own making and we are doubly annoyed because we know this. So, acknowledge that you could have prevented this, make a note to do so in future, and let it go.
Avoiding the minor irritations escalating
Small annoyances can be dealt with but sometimes they have unexpected impacts. When they occur, give them sufficient consideration to see if they could impact on your bigger picture. The absent worker may have been working on a critical project so that minor irritation could have major consequences. If you can keep your bigger picture in mind as you go through your day, you should be aware of any critical activities in relation to moving forward with important objectives.
If you are having the day from hell and everything seems to be tumbling down around your ears, then take some time out to evaluate it. Fifteen minutes spent analysing the consequences can save you heartache down the line. Use this short form of critical path analysis to help you.
- If A doesn’t get done what’s the worst that can happen?
- Will this stop anything significant?
- Is there an alternative?
- Can A be done later with little impact?
- Can someone else help?
Share but don’t moan about your minor irritations
When we are irritated we can fall into negativity and become a poor influence on those around us. Ranting about late trains, lost mobiles and the hairdryer breaking down is fine for around 30 seconds over a coffee with a trusted colleague or friend. It is not fine if the whole office/workplace knows about it and you keep ranting.
This does not mean stoically dealing with it and not asking for help; that could lead to further complications. Be strategic about your requests. An absent worker needs covering- share the load. You need to leave earlier to get your car fixed- alert your boss/co-workers at the start-who knows someone may offer a lift or the name of a good mechanic.
Bumps in the road are just that, bumps. They are not drama moments or mountains to climb. Handled well you will be able to relieve your stress and focus on the important things.