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Coping with high pressured job

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

The inundation of cricket matches has already started affecting the career spans of promising players,’ former Indian skipper Dilip Vengsarkar was quoted as saying in a national daily recently.‘They want to play for their country but, with the frequency of high-tension matches increasing, they are prone to injury and are struggling to do their best,’ he added.

You, on the other hand, may work in an air-conditioned office and not have to sweat it out on a cricket ground.

However, the frantic pace of the corporate rat race could very well leave you feeling exhausted — physically, mentally and emotionally.

While increasing your intake of caffeine or taking asylum in chain smoking may get you going for a while, it is certainly not a long-term solution to cope with stringent deadlines and work-related stress.

The key: Be prepared.Be prepared

The more prepared you are the better you will be able to respond to every odd situation. Eventually you may even enjoy it because hard work can be fun.

Follow these work strategies and stress-busting tips to capitalize on the current high-pressured demands.

Don’t be a pushover

There is a feeling amongst young professionals today that saying no will put a dent on their credibility,” says Rohini Verma, a practising clinical psychologist.
Don't be a pushover
“But it is actually the other way around. People respect those who are assertive and confident,” she says.

Taking on that added workload could make you prone to missing prior deadlines. For example, taking on a new project while you are struggling to finish the old one on time can backfire.

The key is to under-promise and over-perform and not the other way around.

Do not allow yourself to be pressured into taking on unacceptable workloads, even if it happens to be from your boss. Sometimes you must say ‘no’; just remember to be polite and assertive when doing so.

Here are some ways in which you can be diplomatic and assertive.

Can you have someone take this up so I can concentrate 100 per cent on the last assignment you gave me?

I would love to take this assignment; however, I am in between a few other commitments.

Can you arrange for someone to help me with the other tasks?

This will ensure the ball is in your boss’s court; let him/ her work it out for you.

In terms of priority, it makes sense to decline low value tasks.

If you are in sales, don’t get bogged down by paperwork and administrative duties. Keep these low value tasks to a minimum and take on those where you will add maximum value.

Be realistic

Being realistic does not mean taking it easy; it means taking on more ‘do’ able tasks,Be realistic keeping your current circumstances in mind.

Break your goals down to the lowest common denominator (be practical when doing this).

For example: You may set a goal to be the top sales person in your company for the month, but it makes more sense to break it into weekly targets, rather than daily targets. This way you will have the flexibility to change the weekly target based on your day-to-day performance.

Use the SMART goals technique: This means your goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Tangible.

Specific: Have a concrete goal. There is no room for guesswork here. Wanting a job which pays you ‘X’ amount of money is being specific rather than ‘just wanting a job that pays well’.

Measurable: You should be able to track your advancement by hours, rupees, etc, so that you know how you are measuring up as you progress.

Attainable: It is detrimental to set the mark so high that you set yourself up for failure. If you are a new employee and want to get into a senior management role within six months, you probably know it is not attainable.

Realistic: Goals are realistic when your background, upbringing, personality, skill set, experience, and environment are conducive to achieve them. They are unrealistic, in order to achieve your goals, you need something you do not possess.

Time bound: Set deadlines for yourself, so you will be driven to finish the task. Without a time limit, there is no urgency to act.

Work smart

When the going gets tough, the tough get… methodical.Work smart

Prioritize work. Allocate the first few hours of the day to the most productive and challenging work; devote post-lunch or early evenings for phone calls and e-mails.

Focus on the key deliverables and remove all nuisances that create unwanted pressure. These include time-wasters like unwanted calls and junk e-mail.

If you are preparing an important project report, keep your cell phone on silent mode, turn your Internet messenger service’s status to ‘Away’ and focus on the task at hand.

Discipline is important. Make ‘To do’ lists and stick to them.

Last but not the least, there are no prizes for doing everything by yourself. The workload will leave you exhausted and possibly frustrated. Learn to delegate and work with teams.

The key question: where do you get the maximum bang for the buck? Take on those activities and delegate the rest. Working smart is the key to longevity.

Keep a tab on your diet

I am addicted to coffee and have anywhere between eight to nine cups everyday in order to keep myself awake,” says 22-year-old Tabitha Cherian, who works with call centre Convergys. “I end up feeling dreadful the next day.”

Working the graveyard (night) shift is no excuse to eat junk and gulp down multiple cups of coffee.

If you really need that hot cuppa, why not try green or regular tea? It has less caffeine. Make sure you go easy on the sugar or use sugar-free pills.

Throw out the cola from your routine and replace it with fruit smoothies. Else, go for the champion drink — water. It will flush out all toxins and keep you charged throughout the day.

What are YOUR solutions for busting stress and coping with stringent deadlines? Share your mantras with other professionals. Don’t forget to mention your name, age, profession and location.

What and when you eat can make a big difference to the way you cope with stress. Don’t skip meals — particularly breakfast — or rush to finish them. Try to maintain a well-balanced, healthy diet.

“I usually carry some fresh fruits like apples and grapes to work and keep snacking on them. You can even dip pieces of apples in fresh yoghurt and create your own delicious snack,” says Shelly Jain, a 28-year-old consultant with NIIT.

This doesn’t mean you can never break these rules. You can safely indulge in chocolate and sweets once or twice a week. However, if you are addicted to these or just badly stressed, do remember you are breaking the rules at your own peril.

Indulge yourself

There are times when I just feel like throwing in the towel because nobody seems to appreciate my painstaking work,” says Shelly.

Do something nice for yourself after you have achieved a milestone at work.

How about dinner with a friend for a small accomplishment and a day off from work for a big win? Go out and get a nice massage. You deserve it!

Flex those muscles, breathe

“I am aware of the pressure I will face once I join the workforce. So I attended the Art of Living course to help me prepare for it. I feel charged every time I close my eyes and meditate,” says 25-year-old Madan R, a 2006 MBA graduate from ICFAI Business School, Hyderabad.

What are YOUR solutions for busting stress and coping with stringent deadlines? Share your mantras with other professionals. Don’t forget to mention your name, age, profession and location.

Mohini Sawhney, a Delhi-based Art of Living teacher, agrees. “Your body is an extension of your mind. Take the time to stretch your muscles and loosen the muscles in your jaw and face. Practising relaxed breathing techniques and meditation will improve your mood and counter the physical effects of stress,” she advises.

Get any sort of physical exercise. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Step away from the computer for a quick stretch during your day at work.

Don’t lose sleep over stress

I sacrificed my health for the sake of work and studies and thought I can always catch up for lost sleep later. Not anymore. I learned my lesson,” says Ashok Radhakrishnan, a 29-year-old finance executive with Nestle.

Try to maintain a regular schedule, even if you are working in shifts. Try and go to bed and get up at a similar time every week; this will set your body into a routine, which is important for sound sleep.

Cut out idiot box time and instead listen to soothing music or read a book before hitting the sack.

Try not to eat anything right before you sleep, else you will feel very heavy. Experts even recommend a hot shower as it can have a soothing effect on your mind.

Watch out for the logistics. “I work during the nights and sleep during the day. I have made sure the atmosphere in my bedroom is very soothing and the room is very dark during the day and properly ventilated,” says call centre employee Rashmi Sharma.

Good sleep is most important but also the most overlooked aspect of good health. Nothing revitalizes you better.

Refrain from these common mistakes in relationship

Friday, June 20th, 2008

RelatiopnshipsPeople often wonder what the most important aspect of a relationship is. Is it compatibility? Having things in common, the same religious or political beliefs? What about honesty or getting along; never fighting? No, being able to talk is the key; communication, because, as long as you can talk and respect each other’s views, then you have a healthy relationship.

So, when trying to communicate with your partner, what are some things to avoid? Well,Talking and Yelling one common mistake people make is the manner in which they talk to their partner. Unless you are attending a college class, you probably do not like to be lectured. Well, your partner is the same way. So if you have a problem with some aspect of the relationship, don’t sit down with them and just lecture or yell at them. Communication is a two-way street. Talk to them, and then listen to them.

Next is honesty. If there is something about your partner that is bothering you, or someHonesty aspects of the relationship that you feel needs to be worked on - say so. Nothing hurts a couple more than one person holding something inside and letting it fester there. It will only serve to poison your feelings, and sour the relationship. Sometimes, this can be very difficult. If your partner is opposed to having children, and you really want them, this can lead to a break up. Yet, far better you separate than remain together and both end up unhappy. Or, on the other hand, by talking about something, you may find that they share your views, and the matter can easily be agreed to. Finally, there is the option of compromise. Maybe you can’t work things out to perfection. But, if you are both truly dedicated to the relationship, you should be willing to find common ground.

One very ordinary mistake people make when trying to talk about something is not doing just that. They start out talking about an important issue and then get side-tracked. This often happens when one of you brings up something that is painful for the other to dealHealthy Relations with; you will change the subject in order to defend yourself. As tempting as this may be, don’t do it. Keep your focus on the matter at hand.

It is said that our lives are very full these days. Work, family, hobbies etc. fill up our time and make a simple conversation something you almost have to do online via instant messaging! This can lead to another common mistake for a couple: either putting a conversation off or trying to do it in the midst of the chaos of their lives. Talking means doing just that! So, the two of you find a nice comfortable place to do it, and eliminate distractions. Also, don’t wait until the last minute right before bed to try and have a heavy-duty serious chat. That is the time to discuss a sexual fantasy, not whether or not you should buy a new car!

This may sound odd, but sometimes you need to make a date to talk to your partner. These days, we schedule so much in our lives, why not a time to talk? And, it doesn’t have to be a very complex matter. Something as simple as deciding that every Sunday morning the two of you go out to breakfast can do it. A nice local diner, the Sunday paper, and some privacy. You eat, chat, read, and then discuss anything that is truly important. A relationship is like anything else in this world; it has to be worked on, fed, and nurtured if it is to grow and live and develop into something lasting.

Healthy Relations

What creates the world we live in?

Friday, June 20th, 2008

Often we think about creating our lives in terms of what we wish for ourselves. We can also create the world we want by thinking globally. I’d like to illustrate.

Over a decade ago my good friend Krishna went through a divorce. Before moving to a new home, Krishna called a piano retailer and registered her piano to be sold on consignment. Within a couple months, Krishna received a hefty check from the piano retailer for the sale of her ivories. She used the “piano money” to furnish her new place.

A few years went by. Krishna received a check in the mail for the sale of her piano. Huh? Did she dream that she was reimbursed years before? After checking her records Krishna realized the piano shop had made a mistake. They’d paid her a second time for the same instrument. Krishna knew the right thing to do. “But”, she told me later, “I didn’t want to send the check back just to be good or avoid a consequence. I don’t know why, but I needed a better reason than doing the right thing. Crazy, huh? I thought I was loosing it.”

One week went by, and another. Krishna had come to believe if she was patient, she would discover a resolution to her self-imposed dilemma. Three weeks after receiving the second check, she did. She reported, “The reason I ended up sending check number two back is so simple. I returned it because I want to live in a world where people don’t take advantage of one another or try to gain by another’s loss.”

“But you still did the right thing,” I argued.

Krishna replied, “More like the “life” thing. I didn’t act as I was taught and I didn’t think in terms of good or bad. In a small way I ah….created the world I want… where everyone can live without fearing everyone else. See? Simple.”

I hardly know what to add to that.

Living with a mission

Friday, June 20th, 2008

Mission StatementCompanies use mission statements to let people know why they are in existence. Their mission statement could contain information about who they are, what they do, and how they do it. Although corporate mission statements vary greatly, each serves as a guide for the company, its employees, and the general public. But how many of us have personal mission statements? Informal research suggests that few people use detailed written mission statements in their own lives. Sure, most people have some idea where they are going and what they hope to accomplish in life but few have actually written a formal mission statement. What are the benefits of having a written personal mission statement? First, it’s easier to define the actions and goals that will help you achieve your vision. It serves as a roadmap to get you where you want to go. A mission statement allows you to measure your current reality and your progress toward your ideal life. It also allows you to evaluate your values and incorporate them into your daily life.

A mission statement is simply a statement of what guides you, what inspires you, or what you want to accomplish in your life. There are many different ways to approach writing a personal mission statement, but an effective statement can be written in four simple steps. First, list one to three values or principles that you live by and why these are important to you. If you have more than three values on your list, order them by importance to you and select the top three. Next, list the things that bring you happiness, inspire, and satisfy you. This would include the things you do best and most enjoy doing. Then list the things you’ve always wanted to do or the legacy that you would like to leave. These three lists will be combined and used to write your personal mission statement.

An effective mission statement will be simple, clear and brief (between 2-5 sentences). There are many different ways to combine these three lists into a personal mission statement. The first method is to use your own words and combine each of your three lists into a meaningful statement. The second method is to use a template and fill in the blanks with your answers from the above exercises. There are many templates available online that can guide you to crafting a mission statement. Here are a few of my favorite templates:

I value [1-3 values] because [why these are important to you]. I will [what you will do to live by these values].

To live each day with [1-3 values or principles], so that [what living these values will give you]. I will do this by [specific behaviors].

To treasure above all else [most important things to you] by [what you can do to live priorities].

As you write your personal mission statement, remember to keep it simple, clear and brief. Be sure to state everything in the present tense and keep it positive. If there are any negative statements, restate or redirect them to positive statements. Make your personal mission statement part of your everyday life – keep it handy and review it frequently as you schedule your daily or weekly activities. You will find that your mission statement may continue to change and evolve as you do. Revisit it often and make any necessary changes. And finally, keep in mind that you will get what you focus on. The more effort and focus you give to living your mission statement, the more results you will see in your life.


Sincere thanks to ‘Difficult People’ because…

Friday, June 20th, 2008

1. They help us settle with parts of ourselves we’ve avoided facing. Coming into conflict with people often forces us to draw on resources we’ve forgotten, and perhaps even refused to acknowledge, that we have. For instance, I remember a few opposing lawyers whom I couldn’t stand dealing with. I felt they were rude and overly aggressive, but my deeper problem with them was how often I had to say “no” when I interacted with them.

2. They remind us how much we’ve grown over time. Recalling a difficult interaction we had with someone a long time ago can remind us how far our development has come today. For example, I used to harbor a grudge against a woman who ended her intimate relationship with me many years ago. I believed she did it in a demeaning way and I felt angry at her.

Today, however, when I think about the conversation where she broke up with me, I actually feel peaceful and empowered. I see how personally I took the things she said, and how painfully afraid I was of living without her, and I know I wouldn’t react in those ways to the breakup if it happened today. I’m a stronger and more self-sufficient person now, and although I enjoy intimate relationships I don’t need them to feel like a complete human being.

The memory of my last conversation with her serves as a progress report showing how much I’ve matured since then. I’m grateful to her because, if she’d never been in my life, I wouldn’t have such a clear indicator today of how far I’ve come.

3. They help us admire ourselves for overcoming obstacles. Difficult people help improve our ability to handle challenges, and when we deal with those challenges effectively we gain self-respect. I had a professor in college, for instance, who was known to be particularly harsh in his grading. I probably spent more nights studying into the early morning for his tests than I did for the other courses I took combined. I defied my own expectations by acing the class.

Today, I fondly look back on this man’s course, and my dealings with him, as examples of how tough and persistent I can be. I’m grateful to him for helping me respect and admire myself.

4. They help us make important life decisions. People who, in our view, “give us a hard time” often help motivate us to change our circumstances in positive and fulfilling ways. For instance, I know a number of people who changed their careers, at least in part, because they got tired of dealing with what they saw as their overly demanding and critical superiors. They might not have the career satisfaction they have today if their old bosses hadn’t been as tough to deal with.

5. They help us see our opportunities to grow. Uncomfortable interactions with people can make us aware of places where we don’t fully love or accept ourselves, and where we could stand to develop more appreciation and compassion for who we are. One example stands out from a job I had when I was just out of college. A woman in the office, who seemed consistently stressed and angry, used to call me “what’s-your-name” when demanding I do things for her. I’d feel very distressed when she called me that, and I’d experience a burning sensation in my chest and upper back.

A few years later, as I reflected on this memory, it occurred to me that I got so upset when she talked to me that way because I had such an aching need to be acknowledged by others. I needed people to constantly tell me I was important and praise my accomplishments, and thus when this woman treated me like I was nobody I felt terribly anxious.

When I had this realization, I started taking up practices to dissolve this need—to develop a sense of wholeness even without constant acknowledgment from others. I wouldn’t have the peace I have today if this woman—whose name I, ironically, don’t remember—hadn’t been there to show me where I didn’t fully accept myself and needed others’ approval to feel complete. And I can genuinely say I’m thankful she came into my life.

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