Have you ever had a bad work day? Now there’s a question that doesn’t need to be asked. Of course the answer is ‘yes’ and probably ‘several’.
It’s pretty much something that comes hand-in-hand with working life. So, here's our advice on what sort of things can you do to help boost your positivity in these times of crisis. Here are a few things that are certainly worth trying.
Stop and make a plan
Okay, this might not be the most revolutionary of suggestions, but I am a firm believer in the purifying benefits of a little simple list-making. During periods of work related despair, taking time to write a to-do list on a crisp white sheet of paper can be the equivalent of a mental deep-clean; a mass unburdening of all the things swimming around your head that will give the opportunity to refocus and proceed in a targeted, strategic way.
There is something so satisfying about ticking things off a to-do list, which then becomes a visual record of the things that you have achieved, cheering you on towards the finishing line.
That being said, there is much debate about the merits of to-do lists; some suggest that all they do is mount on the pressure, by bringing your face-to-face with your responsibilities; still others wholeheartedly advocate their positive benefits.
Re-evaluate what you are doing
A lot of people, but especially those who are self-employed, over-burden themselves with the sheer volume of work that they take on. This can be a real problem as you begin to nurture an unrealistic impression of your abilities. For some this serves as a positive influence, constantly spurring them on to achieve bigger and better things, but for others the impact is far less favourable
Setting unrealistic expectations for yourself creates the perfect environment for self-deprecation, spiralling levels of stress, frustration and ultimately a very bad work day. It is only natural to feel disappointed in oneself for not meeting personal goals, but perhaps there comes a time when you need to reassess exactly what it is you’re hoping to achieve, and whether these are realistically attainable.
Completely remove yourself for a while
I don’t mean simply ‘take a break’ because that so often turns into something not nearly as beneficial as it sounds. Remove yourself entirely from your work environment, switch off your smart phone and do something that is completely distinct from your normal working routine. Perhaps you might like to pop to the shops, head to the cinema, or just go home and watch TV for a while; it doesn’t really matter what you do, so long as it allows you to escape briefly from the situation that is causing you so much stress.
One of the greatest benefits of this is the ability to gain a little perspective on the situation, which can be impossible when you are trapped within the bubble of your own misery. The old saying about not being able to see the wood for the trees springs to mind.
When you return try to imagine that you are starting your day afresh, with no need to dwell on or even acknowledge the horribleness that was; instead come back a little refreshed and a lot more able to tackle the tasks before you.
Change what you are doing
If you find your mind swamped or fuzzed by the particular task that you are undertaking then it might be time to do something different for a while. A change is as good as a rest, so they say, and quite often a little variation of your duties can refresh your enough to carry on your day with minimal disruption or upset.
If none of these techniques are even remotely appealing to you then it might be time to ‘throw in the towel’ and go home. Some days are just rotten; plain and simple, and the best thing that you can do for yourself (and those around you) is admit defeat. This might appear to be the coward’s way out, but there is nothing cowardly about the ability to identify your own limitations. This is particularly relevant for startups, small businesses and freelancers who, lacking the support of a large team, find themselves so thinly spread that it becomes rather unpleasant.
Above all do not feel guilty
Surely being able to set your own working hours is one of the founding principles of entrepreneurship? Don’t deny yourself this freedom; stewing unproductively will only serve to breed resentment, and that is something that you cannot afford as a startup founder or freelancer. Very few things are so urgent that they can’t be deferred until tomorrow
Eoin O'Hara is a business developer at Startacus.net. Follow them at @Iamstartacus.