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How to Work Mindfully Without Overstressing

Changing Company
Health / Stress / Burn-Out

21 May, 2021

Desiree Craig
Desiree Craig

VP, Product & Technology at uLesson

Desiree Craig, VP, Product and Technology at uLesson, describes how she recovered from burnout when responsibilities had increased with longer working hours.

Problem

Everyone knows that moving from one company to another builds new kinds of hoops you may have to jump through. In my case, my job responsibilities changed from being the Head of Product to an IC in a larger company. My workload increased. I moved from working on mechanical projects to more cognitive initiatives, which required a great deal of brainpower. Spending hours trying to think about a solution was something I was still getting used to.

Although I was no longer responsible for directly managing other people and their outcomes, I had to keep a sharp eye on my personal outcomes. In addition to this, I had a heap of stakeholders to work with, who were spread across multiple time zones.. The meetings across the different time zones meant additional flexibility for me, which took some getting used to, as this was in a remote setting. I constantly found myself to be in a position of stress because I was juggling too much and underestimating how much time or effort was required to achieve certain goals. Over time, I started having the feeling of not being able to achieve much.

Actions taken

Being receptive to any kind of feedback gave me the chance to see my actions from others' perspectives. I openly took constructive feedback. One of my colleagues analyzed my daily patterns and pinpointed how my routine was overloaded. Likewise, my manager prompted me to spend more time understanding the problem and work in the right direction. The feedback genuinely helped in improving my performance.

I was working at a pace that seemed to be output related, but not necessarily optimised for outcomes. Therefore, I adjusted myself to the required pace of the work. I took a look at how my colleagues structured their average workdays and set up their workflow and applied the tips that worked to my own workflow.One major change was properly prioritising deep work and blocking out time on my calendar to focus on this.

I also better structured my meeting times to better handle my responsibilities and meetings which is an important part of working remotely. My ability to accomplish more in a short period of time helped me to eventually get into a flow that worked and made me feel more confident about the quality of work I produced.

Lessons learned

  • Never underestimate the importance of deep work. No matter how trivial the work is, the amount of “hidden-time”, which is time spent preparing surely does add value to your performance.
  • Take feedback as it helps to promote self-efficacy. Even if it is just your colleague telling you about a single thing you are doing wrong. Be open to this and work towards it, and it will help you stay focused in the right direction.
  • Do not be too harsh on yourself. Amidst everything, don’t forget to keep track of the things you are doing well. Be confident enough to constantly work towards achieving your goals while not overstressing over anything.

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