I should be happy that I’m part of the 40% that survived the re-structuring of our company last year but this has come to mean that I’m multi-tasked, doing the work of 2-3 employees and reporting to two different bosses. I’m stressed out. The price of being retained has been the absence of family/home/work balance. Going home at 7 pm or 8 pm is now routine and yet there is no additional compensation. What shall I do to survive alive since giving up my job with four children in school is no option for me?
Mrs. Stressed Out
Multi-tasking is a fact of corporate life that employees, of all levels in most organizations, need to accept and around which they need to adjust their personal and family lives. Survivors of corporate restructuring like yourself may have little or no time for other important things. They need, however, to be creative and resourceful.
Let’s first tackle the issue of stress. Several people can be in the same situation but will have different responses to it due to varied stress levels aroused by sources of stress. If the experience of stress is extreme and intense, and persists for a long period of time, it can lead to serious illness: mental, emotional or physical or all three combined.
Causes of Stress. Stress is caused by either internal or external factors. It is internal if it is aroused by our mental, emotional and physical conditions. Example of a mental stressor is your negative thoughts about multitasking. Emotional stressors are the negative feelings aroused by these negative thoughts. In turn, these negative emotions lead to FIGHT or FLIGHT reactions, or both, such as complaining about your company’s policies, systems and structures; talking against people; etc. Very soon you will experience symptoms of illness, such as allergies, diarrhea, palpitations, etc., that will justify being away from work, tardiness; absenteeism, and the like.
Physical conditions include state of health and cramming too many activities within a given time frame resulting in physical fatigue. Not having an objective for the day, responding to the urgent, inability to say “no” to tasks given by your peers and non-assertiveness to your bosses about your priorities, etc., are the major reasons why you may feel drained and exhausted at the end of a work day.
External stressors are those coming from the environment such as answering 2-3 telephones which are ringing at the same time, demands of two bosses are conflicting; your co-team member’s request that you help her out on a task so she can finish it; etc.
The good news is that you have the ability to manage your internal and external stressors by exercising your freedom to choose. You have a choice of looking at the glass as half-full or as half-empty.
Manage Your Thoughts and Feelings. Thoughts and perceptions affect your feelings and emotions which affect your reactions. Feeding your mind with negative thoughts about multi-tasking, which you are doing now, would have you having these thoughts constantly in your mind: “I’m so stressed out,” “I have so much work to do in such little time,” “My bosses are too demanding,” “I’m not being paid what I should be getting considering that I have so much to do,” “I have no more time for myself and for my family’ etc. These thoughts will lead you to be overwhelmed by negative emotions of bitterness, resentment, anger, self-pity, agitation, worries, anxiety, depression, unhappiness, etc. In turn, these feelings will lead you to self-defeating behaviors that reinforce your thoughts and feelings. Examples of these behaviors are: complaining to your peers, to your family, etc., about the systems, procedures and people in the office; passive aggression or doing nothing when something is expected of you; etc. Whatever little time you have with your family is filled with endless complaints, making them angry, too, and pitying you. What do you get out of these?
On the other hand, your other choice is to look at the glass as half-full. Wake up each day with joyful and grateful heart. Upon waking up, thank God that you are alive and well, that you have your spouse who also has work enabling both of you to send your four children to school Thank God that you have a job and you have a company who values you and your service.
Have positive thoughts about multi-tasking. Fill your mind with these thoughts: “I’m learning more and better skills to make me more valuable to my company,” “Each interaction with my boss and my team members are opportunities to grow in knowledge and increase my Emotional Quotient,” “The many skills that I have enhance my employability,” “God gives me good health and strength to do all the things that I need to do today,” etc. You are reframing multitasking to see and appreciate it in a better light. These positive thoughts will fill you with joy and happiness, gratitude, love, optimism, hope, enthusiasm, and energize you to be a positive person your co-team members will enjoy working with and a person with influence. You will bring these joy and happiness with you in your interactions with your family.
Have Daily SMARTA Goals. Do not cram too many activities in a day. You will benefit by buying and reading a time management book, and apply what you have learned from your reading. One of these is to have SMARTA goals/objectives which you align with your bosses’ goals and objectives. If they don’t have, you can show your objectives to them and get their inputs and/or agreement.
A SMARTA goal is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant (i.e., aligned with your boss’ goal and/or section/team objective), time-bound, and action-oriented. Example: By 12 noon today, I have called up 20 clients and have listed down their top three (3) priority concerns. This work load gives you enough space for comfort room breaks, a 15-minute morning break, allowance for time to be called by either or both your bosses for their needs, and so on.
Even with many tasks to do during the day, take one (1) minute to quiet down. Close your eyes, breathe in and out as you relax and connect with God. Offer what you are doing to Him and ask for His blessings.
Devote your primetime in the office for the achievement of your SMARTA objectives for the day. Unless these is a meeting to attend, or a rush job given by your boss(es), call it a day by 6 pm or thereabout. Come to office on time for work and report to your bosses your SMARTA objectives for the day.
Share Responsibilities At Home with Family. Talk over with your husband how you can help each other with supervision of children’s assignments/homework, and what task at home can be delegated to your children during the weekends. It is important for children to develop good study habits early on so that they become responsible for their own studies later.
Some of the tasks at home can be delegated to your children so that they learn to be responsible for home management. If you and your family take the same car or you commute together, these are opportunities to pleasant interactions. Spend week-end wholly and entirely with your family, enjoying your interactions. You can be creative and resourceful when your resource — time — is limited.
All the above will help you learn new positive behaviors and habits of effectiveness.
God bless you.
Josie O. Santamaria