One of the most common causes of stress is facing mountains of work. The prospect of getting everything done---and still finding time to eat and sleep---can prove daunting.
- If you dwell on your massive amount of work, it can immobilize you. Your stress level will soar as you worry about how you can get started and concentrate on making headway.
- Rather than wrestle with all the work that's piling up, take steps to organize it sensibly. Break big tasks into smaller ones. Then complete each small task in sequence.
- Channeling your energy into completing a specific, well-defined task gives you a sense of control over the situation. Finishing one distinct task may take only 10 or 15 minutes, but the fact that you're advancing toward a larger goal will reduce your stress and raise your confidence.
- Breaking your work into smaller chunks works particularly well when you face these types of tasks:
- Writing a report. Many people find it hard to write even simple memos, so it's natural to feel stress if you must write a long report. Take it one idea or one page at a time. Start immediately after you're given the assignment so that you have lots of time to pause and regroup after each burst of writing.
- Clearing away mounds of paperwork. The very sight of an overstuffed in-box or a two-foot high pile of files on your desk can induce stress. As you begin sifting through the pile, set mini-goals along the way. Example: After reviewing five files and storing them where they belong, reward yourself with a pleasurable activity.
- Implementing a long list of the boss's commands. Some managers will reel off a laundry list of to-do items they want you to accomplish, pronto. After the first few items, stress can envelop you as you struggle to remember everything. Reduce stress by taking notes and numbering each item. Clarify any ambiguities with the boss at the outset. And agree on a timetable so that you can make steady progress without rushing to do everything at once.