Ask Dr. Job’s chief contributor, Sandra Pesmen, is a member of the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame and author of “DR. JOB’s Complete Career Guide.”

Winner of several journalism awards, Pesmen is a graduate of the University of Illinois Media College at Urbana, and is listed in several Who’s Who editions. She also has been Corporate Features Editor of Crain Communications Inc., founding Features Editor of Crain’s Chicago Business and a reporter/features writer for The Chicago Daily News.

For information on partnering with AskDrJob.com, please contact us.

Lower Overload, Anxiety

If you're feeling stressed and anxious at work it's probably from "overload/"
And  Jason Womack, author of Your Best Just Got Better: Work Smarter, Think Bigger, Make More has some suggestions about how to change that.
 "Most of your dread doesn't come from the work itself-it comes from how you think about the work," says Womack, a workplace performance expert and executive coach. "The psychological weight of unfinished tasks and unmade decisions is huge. There is a constant feeling of pressure to do more with less. You can't change that reality...but you can make peace with it.
He says the first step to changing the way you get things done is to accept that you're never going to get it all don. "You'll always be updating your to-do list by crossing off completed tasks and adding new ones...and that's okay. When you improve the way you approach the things you need to get done, both on the job and off, you'll stop wishing things were different and start really making new things possible."
 Following are more suggestions:

Purge and unsubscribe. When Womack suggests reducing your psychological burden, in some cases that means reducing your literal burden. Start by deleting and recycling to make room for the "new". Too many people let a backlog (paper AND digital information) pile up.

Block out your time and prioritize. Ask yourself this: How much time do I really spend each day clicking through e-mails and making my to-do list? The answer is probably a lot. When you spend your day making giant to-do lists or flagging "urgent" e-mails, you'll never get any real work done. Instead look at your day and figure out where you have blocks of time to really focus and engage on what needs to be done.

Change how you manage e-mail. The moment you click on your inbox, your focus goes and your stress grows, as you proceed to delete, respond, forward, and file the messages you find there. You see names and subject lines and suddenly your mind starts racing; all you can think of are the latest projects, the "loudest" issues, and the high-priority work that shows up. If you're not careful, all you'll do all day is manage your e-mail.
Break inertia. Ever watch a freight train start to move? That first forward jolt takes the most energy; keeping the train rolling is much easier. Do some small things to get rolling on getting caught up at the beginning of the year. Then pace yourself. You'll probably find it's much easier to keep rolling along at a comfortable clip.

Reduce meeting time lengths. If meetings at your organization are normally given a 60-minute time length, start giving them a 45-minute time length. You'll find that what you get done in 60 minutes you can also achieve in 45 minutes. You'll also gain 15 extra minutes for each meeting you have.

Divide your projects into small, manageable pieces. Take one step at a time and don't worry about reaching the ultimate goal. Make use of small chunks of time. In fact, a great way to approach this is to break the yearly goals down into quarterly goals. Now that you're back, there are X number of weeks left in the first quarter. If you worked on a goal only two hours each week (perhaps over four 30-minute sessions) you'll have a total of X hours to invest in that goal. Set milestones, decide actions, and make progress faster.

Women's Pathway to Power

'Treat Smart People Smart'