Working life pressure and being human

Gosh, working life pressures are insidious are they not?

I have fallen into the trap again! I really should know better but, hey, we’re all human. Thankfully I tend to notice I have tumbled in and at least I fall in taking a ladder with me.

What am I talking about? I’m sure many of you will recognise or be able to relate to what I’m about to recount.

Last week was a productive week with meetings, decisions made and a new avenue appearing for me to explore. It meant most of my time was out of the office and I really only had time to dump my papers, notes and accumulated paraphernalia onto my desk before scurrying off to the next appointment. I was ignoring the warning signs of working life pressure.

In the back of my mind I knew my desk was disappearing under piles of things that would require my attention in order for any progress to be made, however I just did not have the time to do anything about it then and there.

working life pressure cluttered desk


Tackling working life pressure, the wrong way

Yesterday I found myself in the office for a whole day with only 1 conference call to make. With a determined air I sat down at my desk, almost disappearing behind one particular tottering stack, and surveyed the tasks lying ahead of me.

And then it happened. My brain forgot all the training and good practices I had instilled in myself and went into overdrive and panic.

The first feeling was of being overwhelmed. Everything seemed pretty urgent if I was to take the full benefit of all the hard work I had done the week before, so prioritising was difficult.

The second feeling was of lethargy – it was simply too much for one person to undertake in one day (probably down to stressing about what lay ahead of me).

Avoidance then made an appearance, ‘I don’t feel very well, perhaps I had better put it off until tomorrow’. That feeling of being a rabbit trapped in headlights swamped my entire being and made me freeze.  However, being of determined character I scolded myself, put my head down and tried to plough through it.

working life pressure rabbit headlights

Working life pressure was building inexorably and I thought doggedly carrying on was the solution.

The laptop screen in front of me kept on pinging as emails continued to roll in, my phones kept on ringing and beeping, I had numerous tabs open on my pc and I was trying to address 8 things all at the same time (some of which were complicated). Progress was slow, I could feel my shoulders hunching up to my ears, my lower back and neck began to hurt but I refused to leave my desk.  My head began to throb and my teeth were gritted with the effort. I stuck it out until the end of the day.

I finally admitted that enough was enough at 7pm and reviewed what I had managed to accomplish. Not very much in total.  Most things were still hanging in the air unfinished and now, I genuinely, did not feel very well and was in pain where I had pushed my mind and body beyond their tolerances. I felt deflated and wryly contemplated the next day’s workload. The good and exciting vibes I had from the week before had disappeared.

Working life pressure and keeping perspective

working life pressure prioritize

Later that night, having calmed down but feeling exhausted and looking longingly at my bed, I reminded myself of a few of my home truths.

‘You are not super human Pam’ was the first one.

‘No-one is hurt or dead, and is not going to be so, so in the whole scheme of things it is not that important’ the next.

‘You will get through it but you need to concentrate on one thing at a time’,

‘start by sorting out deadlines/timelines and then tackle things in that priority’,

‘take your time – if you carry on the way you did today you’ll make yourself properly sick and then be no use at all’.

Basically, I put the mountain ahead of me into perspective using my past experiences and my hard earned truths from the past. I acknowledged that working life pressure had overwhelmed me that day, but tomorrow would be different.

This morning I awoke feeling better and far more positive.  I am now doing what I can and not stressing about what is beyond me today.  It can wait, and I know, when I’m in this better state of mind, everything will get done in time and to a much better standard.

And that’s the ladder.  Working life pressure can insidiously mount up and demand attention but remaining calm and not overacting is the key.  Reminding yourself that sometimes a bad day is just a bad day.  Marshalling your thoughts and attitudes into a positive frame of mind and then acting accordingly, with patience and resolve. Today is proving to be a great day.