Even if you’re not busy at work, you almost certainly will be as soon as you get wrapped up in phrases such as “I’m swamped” or “I don’t have time for that”. As soon as we convince ourselves that we’re under water, our stress levels shoot up to match our perceptions.
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Organisational expert Robert Krietner calls this the Pygmalion Effect, or a self-fulfilling prophecy. As soon as you’ve managed to convince yourself that you have too much to do, it doesn’t matter what your actual workload is or how manageable it is, you’ll continue to feel like you are swamped, which stresses you out and can lead to burnout. By reinforcing those feelings, we cement them — and we all know what stress does to you.
Instead, it’s important to stay focused on the task at hand instead of wallowing in how much more there is to do. Single-task and try to concentrate on the specific items you’re working on, not the pile of things you have to do after you’re finished. Similarly, avoid the /”cult of busy”. Even if you can’t change your work, or how much there is to do, you can change your perception of it, and sometimes that’s all you need to power through without driving yourself insane.