PERSONAL RESILIENCE Part 2 The Challenge : Managing Yourself
The Challenge: Managing Yourself
If you’ve read the first article in this mini-series, you’ll know that self-management doesn’t mean pushing yourself to do more than you can. Just as you would try to create the optimum conditions for your team to succeed, it’s worth thinking about the things you can do to help yourself.
A lot of us need more than a nudge to persuade us to pay attention to our own welfare. With this in mind, the 5th Wall team have put together four tips to help you to do so – before you reach total burnout. Sometimes, a bit of self-kindness is simply a more efficient way to self-manage.
Pressure vs. Stress
Many jobs require us to work under pressure. This in itself is no bad thing; for some people, pressure is a motivator. But when pressure is prolonged it can reduce our ability to cope and perform effectively, leading to stress.
Sometimes stress has a specific cause, and sometimes it is the result of an avalanche of little things that leave you feeling like a rabbit in the headlights. The important thing to remember is that while pressures might be real, stress is a combination of your own thoughts, feelings, and physical symptoms (like tension in your shoulders or shortness of breath). That means that stress (like worry) is completely in your control.
Tip: When you start to feel stressed, take a step back and write down a list of things that are putting you under pressure. Once you’ve identified the main thing that is causing you stress, try to imagine the worst case scenario – the thing you are afraid of. Often this can help to put things in perspective.
Knowing when to stop
A large part of managing stress is sensing when you’re coming close to exhaustion – and stopping. A list of tasks that seems overwhelming at 5pm on a Friday will be a lot more manageable after a restful weekend. Your brain is like a muscle; it needs fuel and rest as well as exercise. Interestingly, studies suggest that the same is true of willpower: it’s an exhaustible resource. Quality rest replenishes these vital mental resources.
Tip: Schedule short breaks to periodically refresh your mind, have a snack and if possible leave your desk. Use you break to assess your productivity – are you working as efficiently as you were when you started? -- and keep tabs on your anxiety levels. Remember, anxiety is a message, not a burden; it can tell you when you should stop.
Coping with ‘failure’
Thomas Edison famously said, ‘I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.’ The ability to bounce back from failure is commonly known as ‘resilience’, and it involves the capacity to maintain optimism, to learn from mistakes and to keep trying. This is easier said than done, but it’s possible. Start by changing the way you represent failures to yourself, and thinking about what you can learn from it.
Tip: When things don’t go your way, remember the three Ps. Resilient people are less likely to see the setback as permanent; less likely to take it personally; and less likely to let it pervade other aspects of their life (‘I am bad at this, therefore I must be bad at everything’). If you’re susceptible to one of these habits, you’ll make life a lot harder for yourself.
Contrary to popular opinion, there is no shame in not being a morning person. In fact, acknowledging that you are less productive in the mornings is a far more valuable skill than powering through despite feeling groggy. Once you are aware of your optimal working times and conditions, you can use them to your advantage, scheduling more challenging tasks for the times when you are best equipped to tackle them.
Tip: Keep a list of less high-profile, more ‘mindless’ tasks for those day when you know you’re going to be particularly unproductive, for example because of fatigue or illness. You might not be up to taking on the world on these days, but they can be a good opportunity to tick off more mundane tasks.
Personal resilience is a lot to do with knowing yourself and working to your personal strengths. For this reason, everyone has different techniques on managing themselves. Share yours below – you never know who it might help.