Statistics pulled from the Health and Safety Executive depict how within 2017-18, 616,000 workers in Great Britain — out of 1.4 million — were suffering from a work-related mental illness.
The collaborative work management platform, Wrike, also found that “two fifths of British workers lose sleep over work”, whilst “a third admit letting workplace stress affect their home life”. Furthermore, “a fifth says stress causes them to become unproductive at work.”
An excessively high work load is undeniably a primary root cause of stress at work. Whilst many suggest a to-do list as an effective to process the mental load, can they also confer punishment if targets are not crossed-off on time?
The cons of to-do lists
Workers tend to offload unrealistic ideals
You’d love to work through every single task which you’ve listed, but it’s not always practical. An over saturated list isn’t cohesive with a working, realistic timeframe. Trying to make it happen can result in a sense of failure, which only makes things feels worse.
They don’t include events that ‘crop up’
To-do lists don’t represent a typical day in the office. Generally events change, unexpected meetings arise, and time spent on social media always exceeds one’s allocated limit.
You can’t really cater for phone calls or emails that need handling either. If things don’t go as smoothly as intended, then this again can make you feel pretty miserable, and unproductive. It also means you never praise yourself for the tasks which you achieved that were not on the list.
They’re quite traumatic
Whilst scribbling out a to-do list, the tendency is to squeeze in everything that you can physically remember. Yet reviewing the saga can incur a sense of despair from the huge array of tasks you have yet to complete. Sometimes to-do lists can influence your stress levels to rise, and discourage your efforts, as opposed to encourage.
Manage Work-related Stresses for a Greater Work-life Balance
To reduce work tension, it is critical for you to find closure from stress-inducing events, such as outstanding or hectic work schedules.
See below for our alternative solutions of which can help lift psychological wellbeing as you carry out your business.
Create a Plan of Action, Not a to-do List
David Allen, the doyen of productivity — and writer of Getting Things Done — says the best way to relieve yourself of the intruding anxiety that comes with an unfinished task is to create a plan of action.
This differs from a to-do list, as you solely focus on your unfinished work, and include thorough notes to assist you for when you pick the task up at a later date.
A plan enables you to eradicate the mental blockages with some time-effective preparation. It will nurture your headspace and maintain your inherent fervour for business.
It provides a smooth transition, so that you can happily continue working from where you left off. It doesn’t deter your motivation, nor take up a lot of time — as you needn’t go back over the work you’ve done already — and can take as little as five minutes to create.
If you’re feeling distressed with demanding work volumes whilst out of office, then you can offload your burden onto paper. It’s an effective solution to avoid burning out. Instead of spending hours grafting after work, you can spend minutes to cathartically brainstorm the steps you need to make in the future.
Transition into Tranquility
Mindful technology is the future. Not only is it accessible, it has the power to enhance your mood in a matter of minutes.
By plugging into meditative phone apps such as Calm, you can remove yourself physically and mentally from work stresses, let go of any remaining duties, and refocus your energies as you leave your desk.
It is important to plug in the moment you depart, to mentally distinguish ‘your time’ from work time. Do so, by tuning in via your commute, or whilst you’re sitting in your car, before setting off for home.
Apps such as Headspace are designed with the modern person at their core. They can be customised to suit your schedule, and are designed with themed sessions to suit a range of needs and environments. For instance, Headspace offers relief if you’re struggling to get to sleep or having an “SOS meltdown”.
Complete Small Jobs to Prevent Buildup
It’s simple but effective advice. If you have multiple jobs to undertake, scan through your list to decipher which will take the shortest amount of time, and get them crossed off.
Tackling the smaller tasks can improve motivation as you feel you’re being productive, whilst preventing you from feeling swamped. It enables you to focus more intently on the larger tasks too, after the smaller ones are out of the way.
Do you find it difficult to manage a healthy work-life balance? Comment below with your own experiences.
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About The Author
An experienced business and finance writer, sometimes moonlighting as a fiction writer and blogger.