Can’t stand the heat? 3 Top Tips to cool down when work gets too much

In the lead up to Christmas (yes, I did just say that word – in November!) work, for most of us, gets tough. Deadlines loom, work piles on and everyone panics.

The key, as everyone knows, is in how you deal with it. Moreover, developing skills in this exact area will not only help you get into the Christmas mood quicker, but will help you in your longer-term progression in finance and accounting. Without these coping mechanisms, the move into senior or executive management will be hard.

So, what can you do?

Recognise your emotional response

In an interesting article, called “5 Ways to Focus Your Energy During a Work Crunch”, by Amy Jen Su, she argues that the way executives manage this type of ‘crunch’ is by accepting the situation and learning to observe and label the underlying emotions that are causing stress. Ultimately, she argues that by labelling your emotion, which will always be a negative one (worry, guilt, failure) you, to put another word on it, can compartmentalise what is sapping your strength and focus. This in turn, allows your energy to be focused on positive ‘functioning’ skills – the skills demonstrated by executives.

Choose your own path forward

When confronted with insurmountable amounts of work, people often fall – unintentionally – into a victim mentality. Amy Jen Su argues that by accepting your situation and labelling your emotions, as above, you can reduce the anxiety that causes people to fall into this trap. By assessing your situation, while making sure that you plan time for self-care, you can find a path out of the woods. Taking a step out of the immediacy and emotion of the situation, and making tough trade-offs (actioning pressing priorities while ensuring you do have some time to re-charge), will help you ultimately deliver more because you are in control of your situation.

Stop trying to be a hero        

We’ve all been there – getting caught up in being too self-reliant and feeling like we can’t inflict stress on others, that we forget to communicate or ask for help. A strength in a normal work environment, in a period of acute pressure this trait will only deepen the emotional response you feel, and inhibit you further. The objective it to move through this period, so by taking a step outside of your current frame of reference and seeing who you could leverage, you may be able to do this with more speed, and less personal energy. A key skill in a time of acute pressure, the act of saying ‘no’, of being clear on workloads and capacity, and negotiating and renegotiating deadlines or resources to support you is what will make you successful.

Above all, don’t beat yourself up. As Amy Jen Su states, self-compassion is one of the biggest factors in getting through a work crisis and being able to face into one again – and let’s face it, that’s probably going to be soon!

 

Read more: Su, Amy Jen, ‘5 Ways to Focus Your Energy During a Work Crunch’, HBR

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