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dealing with a bad day at work and how to go about turning it around...

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Have you ever had one of those days at work, where just one email can send you into meltdown? It's one problem that has raised it's ugly head, and instead of being able to just deal with it, you're frozen to the spot, unable to see past the issue to the solution?

I know I get that all the time. It can be something tiny, or something pretty big (I'm yet to have something massive happen, thankfully), and I'm a stress head at the best of times. I'm also a control freak, so I feel the responsibility ten fold if something that I said I would do, doesn't get done or goes wrong.

Stress has never helped anyone though, in fact most of the time, if I try to carry on working with that knot in mystomach it only leads me to making further mistakes, and before I know it, a day that started out perfectly well, makes me want to crawl under a blanket and just write it off completely.

When I'm in this position, there is only way for me to get out of it, and that is to stop everything, take a moment and breathe. Here's how I deal with a bad day and how most of the time I manage to turn it around...
and breathe...

I don't know about you, but if something has thrown me off, or caught me off guard, I find it hard to think past it and see the solution. So the best thing I can do is take a step back and breathe. It might not seem like the most immediate response to a situation, but gradually I am learning with myself, that responding quickly isn't always putting my best foot forward.
give yourself a break...

Now, I realise if you work in a high pressured environment, with strict deadlines, and a boss breathing down your work, taking a long lunch might not only seem impractical, but also impossible. However if you don't work in that kind of environment and you have an understanding boss, explain to them, that you need to take a bit longer for lunch, to clear your mind, eat something that is going to fill you with energy, and that you'll come back revived and ready. If you can get out of the office even better. I quite often walk to the shop, only to come back with a calmer mind. Go for a coffee, a cake, a walk, a run. Whatever. Even if you can't take a longer lunch, make the most of the time you have, not to fret, but to TAKE. A. BREAK.
a blank screen rarely holds the answer...

Ok, so a lot of these points, seem to be about avoiding the problem. That isn't what I am promoting at all, but I just don't find staring at a laptop particularly inspiring. In my office I am famed, not only for having the nicest handwriting but for practicing it more than most. I have a pretty extreme system of notebooks and to do lists, but that is what works for me. So when I need to get my thoughts in order, I move away from my laptop, even from my own desk, and get out my notebook, and mak sure everything that is running through my head is down on paper. Maybe that is a list of questions that I need to find answers for, maybe it is a list of answers that I need to put into action, or maybe it is just writing out what the situation is. You're much less likely to miss something, or forget to do it, if it is right there in front of you, on paper, and getting it out of your head, makes room for more positive thoughts. The types that will ultimately turn your day and your situation around.
a small win is still a win...

Sometimes in life we need small wins. I know there are a thousand articles out there that tell you not to put small tasks on your to do list just so you can tick them off, but hey even those people have bad days, and sometimes, just having been able to have sent an email feels like you've completed something. So if I am stressing out about something, and feel a bit like I can't move forward I look at my to-do list, and set about completing the three easiest tasks on it. These might be directly related to the problem or not, either way, having completed something, makes you feel much more capable of completeing the next, maybe slightly bigger thing on the list.
chat it out...

If something has gone wrong, and you feel responsible for that, it can be really really hard to pipe up about it, or to ask for help. Some times you don't want to admit that anything has gone wrong, so you keep it to yourself, stew and fester, and everyone around you can tell something is up anyway. So why try to hide it? You don't have to go to your boss, or to a colleague on the same project as you, sometimes, you just need to put it out there, to anyone. Sometimes I jump on facebook chat and tell my best friend what is happening, sometimes she has the answer, sometimes just having talked it through with some one, makes the answer seem so much clearer. Other times, I'll turn around and ask my manager. Asking for help is not a weakness, it's a strength, particularly if that is what is needed to move on. I'm a big believer that a problem shared is a problem halved, whether that is personally or professionally, so get it off your chest whatever it is.
put yourself in someone else's shoes...

Sometimes it is hard to take your own advice. You might know all the above and you might preach it daily to other people, butif you're having trouble applying it to yourself, imagine your helping out a friend in your situation. How do I know this works? Because I started putting together this blog post, on a long lunch break, during the middle of one of the most stressed out days I've had in my job to date. And guess what? It worked wonders.

It might not feel it when you're feeling like a hot stressy mess, but you can turn things around.

Live life & don't give in to the bad days x

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4 comments

  1. I had exactly that kind of day yesterday and you should see the length of the list that came out of it...!!! Alice xx

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  2. This was so perfectly timed. A bad day yesterday left me shaking and terrified to yo back in to work but.. I took a deep breath, I thought about it away from the emotion of the situation and talked to someone not involved. It calmed me down and gave me a new perspective. I'm guilty of getting caught in the moment so it's great to have this reminder that it's ok to step away. Thank you. Lisa x

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  3. That sounds like a truly dreadful day at work! I hope you are ok now? I've been in that position before, and I think what is really important is to make sure that, that is the product of a one really off day, and not just how your job is. I noticed days like that becoming the norm, and had to get out xx

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  4. But how satisfying is it to then plough you're way through the list like the boss that you are!?! x

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