April is Stress Awareness month, and this topic may be even more pertinent than ever while uncertainty remains as to when we may be able to properly return to working in an office, and to feel the security we had with our businesses prior to the Covid-19. It is all too easy to feel overwhelmed by stress, and in certain cases working remotely from colleagues in an office has added to this.

Stress is a significant factor in mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. It is also linked to physical health problems including heart disease, digestive issues and insomnia. It is important to understand what may be causing personal stress, and then take steps to reduce it in whatever ways we can. Stress caused by work is unfortunately all too common, so here are our suggestions on how to reduce it.

Although we know we should look after our health and well-being at work, too often we get caught up with other priorities and deadlines. Even making small changes to your everyday routine, can be hugely beneficial in reducing stress. These changes should include:

  • Taking regular breaks and getting outside for fresh air, and proper downtime away from your desk
  • Managing your time at work more effectively by:
    • Ensuring you have an achievable and up-to-date to-do list
    • Blocking out enough time in your schedule to solely focus on a particular task or project
    • Respond to non-urgent emails, return calls and engage with social media at designated times

Diary Management
It is very easy to get overwhelmed when you have a lot to do at work, so try to maximise your time when working. Schedule your meetings and calls so that you have breaks in between and don’t run them back-to-back if you help it. Use this time to move around, to eat/drink, and to follow-up on meeting actions while they are fresh in your mind, rather than leaving them to the end of the day.

A great way to handle stress is to prioritise and to organise:

  1. Set yourself clear objectives and clarify the goals you have.
  2. Look at your goals and evaluate them in order of importance.
  3. Don’t focus on everything all at once, pick 2-3 tasks that will have the biggest impact on your goals.
  4. Set realistic deadlines for everything so that everything will get done.
  5. Make a to-do list, (check out my favourite: https://todoist.com) to keep on top of your daily activity and to ensure everything gets done.

Email management
Use the tools you have available in your email system in order to organise your messages by category and use labels to prioritise your emails. You can set up filters to automatically route messages into folders and to label them accordingly. Within your folders you can create rules so that less important emails such as newsletters can then be looked at a later time. Move your emails, once you have read and actioned them, into their relevant file so that your inbox does not build up.

Filing system
Use a digital filing system like Dropbox (www.dropbox.com) to store your files. You can create easy to file folders and save your files easily and in an organised way, so they are quick to find. Files can be shared within the team and with clients so that every time changes are made, they are saved and synced so that work is backed up. This avoids any duplication and prevents wrong versions being used.

Are you the best person to do some or all of these tasks? Take a good look at your workload and consider how much of your time it takes to do your administrative jobs, and whether your time would be better spent doing other things. Would using a copywriter be a better way of getting your blog posts and other content written? How about a marketing consultant to drive your social media strategy?

What about a Virtual Assistant to undertake your email and diary management?

Whether it is to update your CRM, arrange travel or organise client meetings a VA provides flexibility and support on a regular basis. This may include updating spreadsheets, amending presentations, financial admin or helping you prepare for meetings – the list is endless! Having someone you can trust and rely on to do the routine work and alleviate your work pressures, can help to change your professional and home life for the better.