Brain fog… isn’t it a pest? You’re on top of your game, smashing your deadlines and feeling great until a major client is hit with a crisis. Time to drop everything and get moving…BUT before you do, how will you manage the madness before it manages you?
Adrenaline-inducing at times, the pace of Public Relations is certainly one of the most thrilling and rewarding parts of the job. When others might crack under the pressure, PR professionals crave the heat, take control and thrive. With several accounts on the run, multi-tasking quickly becomes your knack. Although, without the right strategies in place, it can be easy to get stuck in the crossfire when times get busy.
You’ll certainly know when you’ve hit an information overload (or brain fog). You feel easily distracted, impatient, irritable and overwhelmed.
I read up on this formidable foggy sensation recently in a Harvard Business Review article by Dr. Edward Hallowell, titled Overloaded Circuits. Dr. Hallowell is an expert in attention and distractions in the workplace. Sometimes, high demands on our time and attention can fill our minds with noise, and as Dr. Hallowell explains, this results in the loss of our ability or capacity to attend wholeheartedly to anything.
Stress can be an easy trap to fall into during demanding times, especially when you’re jumping in and out of accounts and urgent tasks pop up suddenly when you’re already at capacity. The good news is there’s certainly some great and easy ways to prevent and manage stress or brain fog – before it manages you.
Under the Pump? Follow These Tips to Reset Your Mind
Where you can, try to single-task
It sounds like this tip goes against everything we’ve been told. Although, consistently jumping in and out of tasks, frequently participating in general office chat, glancing at personal texts or responding to every email within a second has been proven to increase stress and decrease productivity.
When balancing several tasks, where you can, try to dedicate parts of your day solely to one task, even if it’s only for one strict hour of focus. You could also let your team know that you’re under the pump on a particular day and will only be looking at emails sparingly.
Culture is a team effort, but it starts with you
A great workplace culture is vital in fostering a positive work environment for employees. This is the foundation for any business, and when all employees feel connected, valued and trust one another, it can have a significant impact when times get busy.
As an open-planned office, P4 Group has established a fantastic culture, where employees can have regular face-to-face interactions with one another to discuss both work related tasks and what we’re getting up to in our personal lives. Our relaxed and friendly culture shines through our work and allows us to perform at our peak because we love what we do, and love coming to work. A positive workplace culture is a whole team effort but begins with individual efforts, so get involved and have fun with your colleagues!
Reset and repeat
Once you’ve completed a big task, be sure to reset and take a quick stretch (take a walk to the lunch room or grab a tea). This sounds obvious, but often if you just jump to the next task, you can’t always give the next job or client the TLC and fresh thinking it deserves.
Jumping up and having a conversation with a friend at work once or twice a day can be a great way to reset. Professor of Psychology, Matthias Mehl from the University of Arizona says that meaningful and genuine conversations with work colleagues has been linked to prolonged happiness throughout the day. Go one step further and invite a few colleagues outside the office for lunch.
Cut the Clutter
For optimal clear thinking, always keep your work desk clear – no, this does not mean removing desk plants or loving photos of your fur babies, those are a must. I’m talking loose papers or files which do not get touched on a daily basis.
To avoid things piling up, use this as a rule of thumb: Try to act on, file or toss every document you touch. Or even better, go paper free! Everything you could ever need could be saved online or on your computer file system. Recently, P4 Group moved over to the integrated online system SharePoint, which has significantly improved version control and reduced our environmental footprint.
Cull your to-do list and smash your tasks
Before you leave for work each day, flag three to five important items you will attend to the next day. If you don’t get to every task, move these items to the top of your to-do list for the following day or move them completely to another day if time is on your side.
Set aside time in the morning to complete a big task first up, and another big task after lunch. Fun, but slightly obvious fact – you will perform at your best when your blood glucose levels (or your energy levels) are at their peak.
All in all, it’s easy to feel focused and motivated when you are at the top of your game. Although, during busy times, rationality can go out the door and our emotions can take the reins. The above tips are just simple ways to help you get through the everyday grind, so you can perform your absolute best!