By Tag and Catherine Goulet, co-CEOs, FabJob.com
1. Work on things that are important.
This may sound obvious, but many of us are tempted to work on easy tasks first so we can have a sense of accomplishment. Time spent on those "easy" tasks can quickly add up, creating even more stress when there does not appear to be enough time left for the important work.
2. Keep an "activity log." (Timeslips)
This will help you figure out what your time is being spent on. Every time you start and end a new activity, including taking a break, make note of the time. Most workers who charge by the hour have learned to do this automatically. If you are not used to tracking your time it may be a bit of an adjustment, but within a few days you should be able to notice any time-wasters you might not have been aware of.
3. Set daily goals.
When scheduling your time, assume that something unexpected will come up and build in a cushion of time to deal with it. To minimize the stress of meeting self-imposed deadlines, avoid making promises about when tasks will be completed. If you must commit to a date, be conservative. If you consistently underpromise and overdeliver you could earn a great reputation while reducing your stress.
4. Be gentle with yourself.
Aim to meet or even exceed expectations, but don't try to achieve perfection. Wherever possible, delegate routine tasks, even if you think you can do them better than someone else.
5. Avoid interruptions.
Unless you are expected to be on call, select a time of day when you will return phone calls and e-mails. During other times, let your voice mail take messages for you. You can also create an auto reply for your e-mail to let people know their message has been received. If your e-mail says you will respond within 24 hours if a reply is required, it may deter someone from repeatedly trying to contact you in the meantime.
6. Don't let other people's problems become yours.
As Richard Carlson, author of Don't Sweat the Small Stuff at Work, says "If someone throws you the ball you don't have to catch it." When someone comes to you with a problem that isn't yours, try limiting your contribution to advice instead of taking on the task yourself.
7. When you are feeling overwhelmed, say so.
Companies want to keep good employees, so most bosses will want to know when you are having difficulty. However, instead of saying "I can't do it," offer some possible solutions. For example, if you won't be able to get a major report completed by a particular deadline, you might tell the boss you can either: (1) complete a condensed version by the deadline, (2) complete the entire report by a later date, or (3) meet the deadline if you get some help from co-workers or temporary staff.
These techniques probably won't help you enjoy the life of leisure envisioned by those early futurists. But they can make your work more manageable, and might even reduce your stress enough to let you go back to drinking double lattes.
Tag and Catherine Goulet, "The Breaking In Experts," are co-CEOs of FabJob.com, a leading publisher of career guides offering step-by-step advice for breaking into a variety of dream careers. Visit http://www.FabJob.com.