50 Tips for Surviving Your Worst Work Days

Don't be Steven Slater. On days when it all just feels like too much, read this list before you do anything rash.

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OK, you’ve heard about Steven Slater, the JetBlue flight attendant who had a major workplace meltdown last week. It was a classic “take this job and shove it” moment.

[See 21 secrets to getting the job.]

And, sure, maybe he shouldn’t have done what he did, but did you catch yourself thinking, “I know exactly how he feels”?

If so, you have a lot of company. It’s tough out there. Even if you like your job, even if you are grateful just to have a job nowadays, you probably get stressed out from time to time. It’s normal.

But wait. Print out this list now, and on those days when it all feels like just too much, check out these tips before you do anything rash.

[See how to take smart risks at work.]

  1. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver.
  2. Learn to manage your emotions, instead of letting them control you.
  3. Cultivate a sense of humor.
  4. Resist perfectionism.
  5. Resist micromanaging (of yourself and others).
  6. Get the sleep you need.
  7. Try getting to work 10-15 minutes early.
  8. Take regular breaks.
  9. Take a walk at lunch, or do some stretching exercises, or jumping jacks, or something.
  10. Don’t overdo the caffeine.
  11. Don’t skip breakfast or lunch.
  12. Learn to recognize symptoms of stress (anxiety, headache, anger) so you can nip it in the bud.
  13. Make some friends/allies at work.
  14. Talk about your stress, to somebody.
  15. Pay attention to your breathing; slow it down, deepen it.
  16. Post family photos (or other images that make you happy) in your workspace.
  17. Focus on the now (i.e., don’t agonize over the past, don’t fret over the future).
  18. Take some alone time.
  19. Find harmless ways to vent; e.g., cry, or punch a pillow.
  20. Vary your routine.
  21. Stop trying to multitask.
  22. Remind yourself of what’s really important in life.
  23. Beef up your skills; become better and faster at what you do.
  24. Make sure you truly know what is expected of you (you may need to talk to your boss).
  25. Try looking at situations from different points of view.
  26. Seek work that suits your personality.
  27. Learn to say “no.”
  28. Always have a fallback plan (a “Plan B”).
  29. Get better organized.
  30. Clean up workspace clutter.
  31. Stop procrastinating.
  32. Make your workspace as ergonomic as you can.
  33. Wear clothes that are comfortable and that you look good in.
  34. Try some “positive affirmations.”
  35. Learn to manage your boss.
  36. Meditate/pray/contemplate.
  37. Avoid negative people as much as you can.
  38. Write down the things you like about your job.
  39. Make a list of all your achievements in the last year.
  40. Get clear on your life goals and take a step, no matter how small, toward those goals every day.
  41. Learn to love yourself as you are.
  42. Put a smile on your face.
  43. Get a hobby that makes you happy.
  44. Learn to prioritize. Learn to delegate.
  45. Stop comparing yourself to others.
  46. Ask for help when you need it.
  47. Break big jobs into bite-size pieces.
  48. Know your limitations and let others know them too.
  49. Don’t try to control what is uncontrollable.
  50. Hang in there!
  51. Karen Burns is the author of the illustrated career advice book The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use, recently released by Running Press. She blogs at www.karenburnsworkinggirl.com.

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