Crush Work Chaos by Making Small Changes

By Angella Bernal

Does your work life feel out of control? When you get to work, are you hit with feelings of uncertainty, stress and/or anxiety, hindering any proactive or innovative energy you may have felt transitioning into the New Year? It’s daunting enough to make a New Year’s resolution like pledging to be healthier, when chaos at work seems to drain you before you have a chance to get to the gym. (92% of Americans fail to keep New Year’s resolutions according to the University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology.)

Whether you want to crush the chaos at work or be part of the 8% who succeed at fulfilling their New Year’s resolutions, with the right tools at your disposal, you can meet these seemingly overwhelming challenges.

Keep Reminders

Before the cycle of chaos continues to get you down, you need to remind yourself of the things that make you feel good about your day, your work, and/or yourself. Just as you would help a friend or coworker look on the bright side of a tough day, you want to establish reminders that stabilize you and help you to focus on the positive.

  • Values - Post a list of your personal/professional values on your wall or in a notebook as a reminder of what’s important to you. The article: What Are Your Values, or the Learn iT! Conquer Chaos class can help you discover your values to keep you grounded during chaos.
  • Mantras – Creating a personalized mantra to repeat can be very effective. For example, if you tend to multitask instead of focusing, have a mantra handy for when you get off-task like, “I am going to focus and work on one thing at a time, so I am going to work on this one task.”

Values lists and mantras are no-nonsense tools to keep you motivated. You can lean on these tools to keep you on track when you feel unsteady or chaos is depleting your energy.

Set at Least One Attainable Goal Each Day

Decide on one task you want to complete; one goal to set for yourself each day that you are able to complete so that you feel successful and productive.

There are two ways to think about goals.

  1. Long Term (ongoing) Goal – This is a routine or consistent goal that you complete daily, like five minutes of planning your to-do list at the beginning of the day, or going for a walk every morning before breakfast. Setting this type of routine helps to build positive habits into your daily life.
  2. Short Term Goal – This can be a daily or hourly goal. “By the end of the day I’m going to do X (something I’m happy to get off my plate),” or “In the next 10 minutes, I’m going to finish Y.” Setting short term goals will help keep you focused and productive.

Two Learn iT! webinar classes that focus on best practices of goal setting are Conquer Chaos and Make a Plan and Stick to It.

Celebrate Along the Way

After setting a goal, the fun part is finishing and/or celebrating when the goal is attained. Just like you would celebrate a friend’s success, you want to reward and cheer for your own successes. Celebrate when a long-term goal is reached or choose to celebrate at points along the way. You may not find it necessary to celebrate after every 10 minute goal is achieved, but allowing yourself a break to refill your coffee cup or take a breather after a job well done makes sense. Last year, I had a goal of walking 500 miles in the year, and I celebrated after 40 miles, 250 miles and all the 100’s. This helped to motivate me to get to 500 by Dec 30th.

If you succeed in getting a “monkey” off your back or are happy about a success, rewards and celebrations can encourage you to keep setting and attaining goals. What’s the easiest way to reward yourself? In the Learn iT! webinar Conquer Chaos, we cover a prioritization method for tasks that have a built in reward system.

Keep What Works

Last, but certainly not least, you want to keep what works for you in your daily life. If anything becomes burdensome, complicated or contrived, you won’t keep doing it. For example, I enjoyed walking my 500 miles, but by December, it felt like a chore. So this year, I will walk the trail near my home as a reward, instead of choosing to make walking a goal.

If you try setting 10-minute goals and they work for you, great! If not, next time try a 5-minute goal or 30-minute goal. Find what works for you and you will be more likely to keep using this tool.

Use these strategies to help crush the chaos at work and start taking control of your day. Think of it as a New Year’s Evolution. How will you evolve out of the chaos?


Angella Bernal pic

Angella Bernal is a Professional Development instructor at Learn iT!. She believes that students learn best through the practical application of technology applied to real-life situations. She achieves this by allowing student questions to guide the class to areas relevant to their environment, thus allowing for the quickest and easiest adaptation of new technology and skills