Frustration and Annoyance: it’s a tale as old as time. As long as people with varying roles, attitude and personalities have been interacting with each other, there have been misunderstandings, buttons pushed, et al. Maybe something that happened in a meeting jarred you out of productivity mode. Maybe your mom called mid morning and ‘got on your last nerve’ with something and now you’re seeing red. Maybe you felt a co-worker ‘wasn’t hearing you’ when he or she was dismissing your ideas. The bottom line is that you can’t concentrate, you’re lacking energy and don’t know what to do about it.
I recently had to make a choice about how I wanted the rest of my day to go down regarding a situation that fits the above bill. Earlier in the morning, I was faced with a situation that really irritated me. I definitely let it affect part of my day, and it reminded me of my time in my past life when pretty much everything irritated me and I was living a life that was not for me. After some time being unproductive, rather than continue to be annoyed at myself for being annoyed (which was…annoying), I came up with the some of the below tactics to get me back on track, so that I could leave my workday feeling that I had contributed to something and that I felt fulfilled.
- Don’t judge your emotions. Sitting there being annoyed at yourself for being annoyed at a situation does no one any good. Instead, it adds an additional layer of emotion on top of the original emotion. As they say in every meditation class ever, try not to judge your emotions. Instead, acknowledge them as ‘emotions that exist’ and things that are neither good nor bad. I swear, having a meditation app like Calm.com on my phone has helped for situations that may come up. We may live in an immediate NOW culture, so you may think you need to get back to being productive NOW, but take a 5 minute pause and re-calibrate yourself.
- It’s not about what someone ‘did’. Instead it’s what the incident says about you. Let me explain. We tend to view things as what someone ‘did’ to us or what ‘happened’ to us. But really, it’s all about how we interpreted it. To put it in simplistic terms, someone who ‘interrupted us’ at a meeting may initially get the “I can’t believe he did that. How dare he interrupt me while I’m explaining something important?” treatment. However, it could be that what’s really going on in this example that you value being able to get your thoughts out in your own time and manner, and this person challenged that value when he interrupted you.” Next time your patience is tested, ask yourself what your reaction says about you and what you value. It may help take the pressure off the other person and make it more into a learning experience.
- Ask yourself a pivotal question: If some of the suggestions in numbers one and two seem a little ‘woo-woo’ to you, I understand. They work, but it took me awhile to get used to that way of thinking. If that’s not your MO, how about this more tactical approach? Ask yourself how you’ll feel hours later, when you’re falling asleep or later in the week when you’re taking stock of the week, if you continue riding this derailing train. How will you feel about what you’ve accomplished and how your mind feels? Alternatively, can you conjure up a time you’ve felt this way before? When I was back in my ‘getting through the week’ days, I used this tactic to turn myself around. It wasn’t a total mind shift, but it helped.
- Come up with new interpretations. What might have been other reasons why your colleague interrupted you, from our example earlier? Maybe you think it’s to ‘one-up’ you, but other reasons could include a) excitement for his own idea that he just blurted it out or b) he wasn’t listening so wasn’t even aware you were on a roll or c) he was thinking about the burrito he was going to have for lunch and just wanted the get the meeting over with. I worked with someone many years ago who seemed very disconnected and disengaged whenever we spoke. I thought she sounded bored. I later learned she had seizures at a very young age and it forever impacted her ability to formulate thoughts as quickly as many of us do. That was a big mind shift for me and pushed me to incorporate this tactic whenever I was in this zone of ‘annoyed’.
- Shut it dowwnnnn. We live in a seemingly NOW and IMMEDIATE world where everything is urgent, but seriously, most things rarely are. Close as many windows as possible, leave your mobile in your bag and check it at lunch, and overall, limit those things that are distracting to you. One big trick that tends to work for me is to turn off the Outlook bubble that enables new emails to pop up in a bubble at the bottom of my screen. That way, I’m doing work and not able to see things that might potentially derail me until I’m in a good stopping place (and thus feeling productive) to check emails.
The point here is to do what works for you. These are tricks I employ and are often ones that clients have used. What other tips and tricks are out there? Please share your favorites for the group below!