Zara felt her head was about to explode! She was sure somebody must have died untimely and transferred the backlog of activities and tasks that they ought to have accomplished the entire years they had lived plus those they should have achieved had they not died. She does not know who the person is and frankly, she does not care!
Oh wait, she cares. She needs to know who the person is who has saddled her with so many obligations especially this past couple of weeks. She is ready to go on all fours and beg the wicked soul to take back their chores and errands and tasks and responsibilities and…and! Phew!
But she does know those are wishful thinking. Nothing of such is going on at all. All of these tasks and obligations cum commitments that she is currently entwined in were not handed down to her by some mischievous ghost to torment her existence. That realisation has never done anything to improve her mood. God, why her?
She is seated at her desk at the office after pacifying an irate customer whom she was not sure was really pacified. This was not long after the hustle and bustle of receiving some high powered guests. Everyone in the office had been put on their toes preparing for their arrival. The meeting went smoothly and the company secured the business with them.
Zara was already knackered from the many activities, when a client walked in all angry, emitting angry steams from all pores; saying a thousand words per minute with most hardly intelligible.
She kept telling him to calm down while her own anger was beginning to get to tipping point. Gosh! She dislikes this kind of clients: totally irascible and unreasonable people. All they ever wanted to hear is their own voice. They come to complain with the intention of biting off the head of the hapless person saddled with the duty of listening to their complaints. They are never really about finding solution to whatever grouse they came with in the first place.
‘Bully’, she muttered under her breath. Then brace up again and asked the angry man to calm down. He simply stopped talking, looked her over in disgust and stormed out of her office. She let out the bubbles of anger that has gathered in her lungs in a long sigh and forced herself to focus on the task her boss gave her.
She was to write a letter to a company her organisation is housing in their premises demanding that they pay up their debts within 30 days of receipt of the letter. This is not the first time he would ask her to write such letters. He had even commended her writing skills, but today surprisingly she has been blank for over 30 minutes and she knew her boss would be expecting it already. He would be requesting for it any moment from now.
Just then a light bulb flash in her head and the words came tumbling in. She started typing away at her laptop in frenzy for fear they might stop coming. Her phone rang then interrupting the flow. The very thing she does not need now. She wanted to ignore it at first, but then the persistent ringing was a distraction so she decided to pick it, but the line went dead the moment she said ‘hello’.
That further aggravated her already frayed nerves. Why is everything that has occurred so far today irritating her? Grrr! She made to continue writing when she remembered MD’s errand. OMG! She has totally forgotten!
The MD instructed her in the morning of the previous day to take inventory of the stationery and other office supplies, input the data into excel sheet and send to him. All she need do is supervise Oreoba who would do the actual inventory, then take the derived data from him and input it into the sheet, and mail to the MD.
But she totally forgot about it! It must be the pressure of dotting the ‘i’s and crossing the ‘t’s for the visitors. If only she had intimated Mr. Oreoba of the task immediately after so they can get it over with same day, she wouldn’t be in this mess. Here she is just remembering over 24 hours later and when the day is almost over.
‘Let me just die today. Today is the day I die!’, she wailed.
She was beside herself in panic. Then her phone rings again! She stared at it unseeingly for some seemingly endless seconds contemplating which to do between slamming it hard against the wall and picking the call. She finally decided against the violent option and picked it up instead, wearily.
‘Hello’. It was her child’s school. Tito was running a high temperature so she need to come pick her as soon as possible. She would have called her husband to go take care of that so she could finish up, but he was miles away in Kogi.
The sheer weight of it all was overwhelming. She burst into uncontrollable tears. She was past caring who sees her. The past few days have been overwhelming; before she recovers from one, she is slammed with another. It is beginning to look like the whole universe is against her.
Mr. Abbot, from Quality Control, walked into the scene and was alarmed at the scenario playing out. He quickly rushed to offer her his handkerchief and when she was a bit calm, asked her the matter.
She gabbled at first to her utter amazement. There she was doing the same thing she berated the difficult customer for in her mind; talking too fast for coherence. She forced herself to slow down and to her surprise Mr. Abbot was an amazing listener! And she felt a whole lot more clear-headed after spilling out her stressors to a listening ear.
She realised the day was not too far gone and Oreoba can still do the inventory. He has been doing the job for long so needs minimal supervision so she had enough time to quickly finish up the letter and emailed it to her boss. She then put a call through to her mom to help take her daughter to the clinic having informed the school her mother would be coming.
Oreoba was already more than halfway done by the time she went to join him in the store. She got the derived data from him, entered it into excel sheet and emailed to the MD. Though she left the office a tad later than usual but she delivered her obligations on all front.
It is easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer weight of all the ‘must-be-dones’, but you need not be if you choose to be intentional about taking charge and staying on top of whatever situation always. It is imperative to keep a clear head always.
To reduce stress and be in charge you need to up what I call your task management game by making sure you:
1. Prioritise tasks. Tackle high-priority tasks first. If you have something particularly unpleasant to do, get it over with early. The rest of your dat will be more pleasant as a result.
2. Break projects into small steps. If a large project seems overwhelming, focus on one manageable step at a time, rather than taking on everything at once.
3. Delegate responsibility. You don’t have to do it all by yourself. Let go off the desire to control every little step. You’ll be letting go of the desire to control every little step thereby letting go of unnecessary stress in the process.
4. Be willing to compromise. Sometimes, if you and a co-worker or boss can both adjust your expectations a little, you’ll be able to find a happy middle ground that reduces the stress level for everyone.
Also, you also need to learn to reach out; turn to co-workers for support and be available to listen to and support then too, lean on friends and family. This is very important. No single tree makes a forest. Everyone needs good people as support system.
Zara missed it initially but she found herself and took charge. Like the saying goes; we cannot always choose what happens to us, but we have the power to choose how we respond. Workplace could be really crazy sometimes coupled with personal obligations, but always be intentional about taking charge. Your emotions need to be in topnotch condition so you can deliver quality job and ultimately achieve optimum productivity.
I soothe with my pen. Or keyboard. Or both.