10 Ways to Be Less Stressed at Work

January 3, 2017

Stress prevents you from being happy at work. Here's how to fix that.

With the new year beginning, one of the most common resolutions – and certainly the most ubiquitous – is just to be happier. And that includes being happier at work, as many people spend more time at work than at any other activity.

The question then becomes how to be happier at work, or conversely, how to be remove unhappiness from work. And there’s no single thing that ruins more happiness at work than stress, which not only hurts our emotional state, but our physical state as well.

So how do you reduce stress? In his LinkedIn Learning course Happiness Tips, Instructor Chris Croft outlined 10 common causes of stress in the office, and how to overcome them.

They are:

1. Always worrying about deadlines 

Deadlines don’t have to be stressful. All you need is a plan for each big project, Croft said.

“Break the big job into parts so that you know you have to do a certain amount each day,” he said in his course. “And then, as you work to your plan, you know you’re gonna be okay.”

2. Constantly overwhelmed with all the little jobs that need to get done

It seems like there is never a shortage of little jobs to get done at work, and that can cause stress. The first step to reducing that stress is simply writing out all the jobs that need to be done, Croft said.

“To start with, you don't have to do any of them,” he said in his course. “Just put them on a list.”

From there, you can prioritize and start working your way through that list.

3. Doing tasks that you don’t feel like you should be doing

Do you have a task someone else on your team should be doing or you don’t agree with, and it’s stressing you out? Than you need to say no – and that can be retroactive, Croft said.

“If you're bounced into agreeing to do something, and then afterwards, you regret saying yes, you can always go back and say that you've checked your diary or you've thought about it, and unfortunately, you don't have time, or you're not happy about doing it after all,” he said in his course.

4. Multitasking is the norm

Multitasking has been proven to be both ineffective and stressful and yet many of us still do it. The best way to stop doing this is just to make a list of everything that needs to get done and then to do each task one-by-one, Croft said.

5. Having a messy workplace

People who have messy workplaces always say it doesn’t stress them out, but when they clean them up, they invariably feel better. So a pretty simple solution here – tidy up your workspace, Croft said.

6. Procrastinating a job you don’t want to do

When we have a job we don’t want to do, we invariably procrastinate. Croft admitted that overcoming procrastination is a more complex skill that needs to be learned, which is why we created an Overcoming Procrastination course at LinkedIn Learning to teach it.

7. Interruptions

Interruptions like phone calls and emails are stressful when you are rushing to finish something. Croft said the solution is partially to reduce interruptions by turning off your phone or refusing to check email for certain periods of the day.

But secondly – taking the advice from the first point – you also need to have a better plan for getting things done, so you aren’t rushing in the first place.

8. Being bombarded with work all at once

Obviously it’s stressful when a lot of work hits us all at once. And the reality is that when that happens, sometimes you just need to power through and get stuff done.

The real key is finding the root causes of these problems and addressing them, so those bombardments happen less and less often, Croft said.

9. Having a chatty colleague

There’s nothing worse than a chatty colleague when you are trying to get work done. Here’s the time to be assertive – tell them you don’t have time for the conversation right now and they’ll get the hint, Croft said.

10. Being late for reasons that aren’t your fault, like traffic

Traffic is stressful, especially when you need to be somewhere. And sometimes, being late is inevitable when unexpected circumstances arise.

But, most of the time, traffic is relatively predictable. So the key to removing this stress is to leave earlier and give yourself a buffer, Croft said.

Those are ten common reasons people are stressed out at work. By following Croft’s simple advice for overcoming them, you’ll drastically reduce your stress level and ultimately improve your happiness.

*Image Credit: Firesam, Flickr

Being happy at work isn’t as hard as it sounds. Learn how in Croft’s LinkedIn Learning course, Happiness Tips.