The average property manager has 50 to 100 open tasks, issues, and conversations on any given week.
They are interrupted approximately seven times an hour and distracted for up to 2.1 hours per day. More than 40 per cent of property managers say they are affected by stress in the workplace. Many say they feel overwhelmed and are constantly busy.
How can you maintain focus throughout the day? Is it possible to do everything that needs to be done and still have energy left after work? How do you keep cool under so many demands?
Today I am going to tackle some different strategies to take your stress down a notch before it takes over your life.
1. Accept that 'busy' is part of life
In our office, we removed the word 'busy' from our vocabulary. We all get so unnecessarily stressed with the perception that we are all so busy, when actually this word just reflects our usual everyday life! There may never be a day when everything is done, especially in property management, so accepting that life is busy is important. So next time someone asks you how you are doing, instead of busy, you can say: "I'm very productive, thanks!"
2. Eliminate interruptions
We are all bombarded during the day, emails, phone calls, drop ins, texts, internal conversations, as well as sudden urgent issues – making us more distracted than ever. If you can do something to remove the disruption, i.e. turning off email notifications, flicking the mobile to aeroplane mode, locking yourself in the boardroom for an hour, having a do not disturb sign, turning vibrate off your phone – then take action and do so to get some control back of your time.
3. Take a deep breath
If you’re feeling overwhelmed or are coming out of an intense conversation and need to clear your head, a few minutes of deep breathing will restore mental balance. Simply inhale for five seconds, hold and exhale in equal counts through the nose. It can be like getting the calm and benefits of yoga class in three minutes or less at your desk – getting our zen back before leaping into the next issue.
4. Act rather than react
We experience stress when we feel that situations are out of our control. It activates our stress hormones and can wear down confidence, concentration and well-being. Identify what you can control and what you cannot. You are in control of your actions and responses, but not someone else’s. Concentrate on what you can do and how you can act – and let go of the rest.
5. Schedule your day for energy and focus
We seem to have a culture where working harder and longer is perceived to make you more important, which results in us pushing and pushing to get more done and working longer hours. The longer hours we work means productivity actually goes down, and you’ll have little energy when you do get home. Part-time workers statistically are more productive than full-time workers, as they have tighter deadlines. Schedule breaks throughout the day to walk, stretch and breathe. Make a commitment to leave on time so you have a deadline and aren't stretching the day out to longer than it needs to be, perhaps even schedule specified 'me time' into your calendar, even if you don't have any personal commitments.
With competing deadlines and fast-changing priorities, it’s critical to define what’s truly important and why. That requires clarity; take a moment to re-write and prioritise your to-do list by focusing on those items that are most urgent and important. When you feel too busy to do this, that’s exactly when you need to do it even more so.
7. Ask for help
To often we look at asking for help as a sign of weakness, but we may find that those around us, our colleagues or management would be happy to help with a stressful situation. Don't be afraid to ask for help resolving an issue, or with your stress.
8. Eat right and drink water
Eating badly can add stress to your system. And when you're not sleeping well, you're not recovering. Ensuring that you fuel your body with wholesome and nutritious foods and removing processed foods (such as junk food, takeaway and sugary snacks), and hydrating with two litres of water during the day will support stress reduction and give you the energy to get through the day.
9. Be active
If you experience stress, physical activity can get you in the right state of mind to be able to identify the causes of your stress and find a solution. Exercise won't make your stress disappear, but it will reduce some of the emotional intensity that you're feeling, clearing your thoughts and enabling you to deal with your problems more calmly.
10. Take control
There's a solution to any problem. If you remain passive, thinking, 'I can't do anything about my problem', your stress will get worse. If you let that problem sit under the rug, it will only get worse and more stressful. If you've been putting it off, tackle it first thing in the morning – and it will be the worst thing you do all day! The act of taking control is in itself empowering, which will get you motivated to solve more issues. Plus, it's never as bad as we think it is.
11. Connect with people
A problem shared is a problem halved. A good support network of colleagues, friends and family can ease your work troubles and help you see things in a different way. Sometimes just the act of talking it through with someone will help a stressful situation, and they may be able to help find useful solutions for your problems.
12. Stop the email ping pong
The sheer number of emails sent and received every day adds to our stress levels. While email is great and convenient for many things, it's not good for resolving tricky situations or disagreements. We've all heard it before: pick up the phone, you'll resolve issues quickly, and confirm the outcome verbally. If you can feel an email is irate, you should use this as an indication to pick up the phone.