Let’s not focus on nightmare bosses. Let’s focus on you.
*And, yes. I used the “L” word.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t think straight when my neck is sore, my eyes are dry, and my back is screaming at me to GET UP and MOVE!
One of the first things I do when I sit down to work (anywhere and anytime) is to check my work area for ergonomics.
Ergonomics is the study of how a workplace and the equipment used there can best be designed for comfort, efficiency, safety, and productivity (Encarta Dictionary: English (North American)
Make sure that you have the tools you need to get comfy. Your elbows have to be at 45-degree angles to prevent carpal tunnel. And your screen needs to be at eye level (not too high or low) to avoid neck strain. If you’re little like me, perhaps you need a footrest or a back pillow.
If you believe, “Janet, you don’t know my boss, she won’t let me buy X, Y, and Z,” know that investing in such adjustments is #1 worth it and #2 utterly workable with some creativity.
In the past, I’ve put my monitor on a stack of books and put a box under my feet as a footrest. Don’t laugh at me, I’m only 4’10!
Making your space 100% comfy and ergonomically correct for your body will help you focus on your job rather than your next chiropractic appointment.
Chunk your time
Sometimes, my list of things to do boggles my mind! It can be overwhelming, and we live in a culture of instant gratification. Thankfully, you can wrap your mind around all of it by chunking your time.
Some jobs have definite due dates and can only be done on certain days. Mark these as priorities. Then, grab your wall calendar and a marker, circle those days, and prioritize those jobs. Let your co-workers know your schedule so everyone’s on the same page.
For example, my calendar looks like this:
Create a checklist
Just because we live in an instant gratification society doesn’t mean that we need to GET EVERYTHING DONE RIGHT NOW!
Doesn’t that make you feel a little twinge of AHH! in your neck? I know I feel it and it doesn’t feel right.
Write down all of the routine responsibilities you have per month. Create a checklist so that you don’t forget. A list can look like this:
Clear your desk each night
A clear desk supports a clear mind that is purposeful, action-oriented, and accountable. Yes, I know that you and I have the long laundry list of never-ending projects but is it really never-ending? I think not.
(I know, all about right angles. That’s a throwback from my manufacturing days.)
If you can reasonably chunk your time and responsibilities, you should be able to put that day’s projects away either in a designated drawer, file box, or file folder.
All it takes is 5 minutes at the end of each day.
When you come in the next morning and see a clear desk, it’s a reset moment. It’s a moment where you can take a breath and focus on TODAY’S TASKS and not yesterday’s leftovers.
I know that you get a lot done each day and you need to acknowledge this. Celebrate what you’ve accomplished for the day but treating yourself to a clear desk. Sounds cheesy? I know. Give it a shot anyway.
Focus on your contribution
Whether you are a task Queen or a struggling worker, appreciate the work not just for the work itself but for the people and/or organization it supports.
One of my goals as I streamline my work is to create space to talk with the people I work with. I also love to help people who are stressing out troubleshoot and solve any problems they may have.
If you are thinking, “Nah, Janet. My employer doesn’t care about me. I’m just here for the paycheck.” I hope that you can reconsider this.
Your skillset is meant to serve a larger purpose.
In management school, a teacher told us a story about the Toyota factory in Japan. He said that on tour, you can stop any employee and ask them how their work affects the company and the people around them.
A customer relations person will say, “A kind conversation will make our customers feel listened to and respected. When they feel this, they will have positive thoughts about our company which will bring loyalty and referrals from their community. That’s how I contribute.”
So, my advice to you, if you really want to love your admin job, look up and see and appreciate how you contribute.
Eat, breathe, and take breaks
My mindfulness teacher once said, “As long as you are breathing, you are OK.” Funny, right? But so true!
Managers understand that you need to refuel. Eat away from your desk and relax a bit.
Your body and mind need a reset after working on an intense project. Take breaks and go for a walk. Taking regular walks between tasks is scientifically proven to help prepare and sharpen your mind for your next action item. Give yourself permission not to plow through the day without first taking care of yourself.
Too many people allow stress to run away with them to the point of feeling powerless. But you, my friend, are not powerless. I’ve been in your shoes and I’ve helped countless overwhelmed workers who were ready to throw in the towel. These solutions work.
Use this checklist
- Get comfy
- Chunk your time
- Create a list
- Clear your desk at night
- Eat, breathe, and take breaks
Let me know how you are doing with all this! I’m here for you!
Janet Johnson is the author of My Money Pivot: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Finding & Making More Money. Before becoming a coach, Janet gained seventeen years of experience in a family-owned manufacturing company. She also trained small business owners in Financial Management and Lean Enterprise for seven years through contracts with the State of Connecticut and the Small Business Administration for seven years.