How do you deal with anxiety on finishing important tasks?

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badRobot
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04 Sep 2012, 6:15 am

This is the biggest problem about my work.

When I have important tasks, I start to worry too much, sometimes anxiety totally blocks my ability to work, even start working.

The only thing I really need is to calm down and "forget" how important this task is. Sometimes I manage to ignore calls and emails without issues, calm down and in then in the right mood completing task turns out to be easy and fast.

But it's getting really hard when colleagues keep calling and messaging to say how important it is. Especially hard when you already had problems with starting and they worry about deadlines and stuff like this.



singularity
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04 Sep 2012, 11:24 am

Is it possible to turn your phone off until your anxiety subsides? I have days where I have to do that. I just have to make myself return those calls when I'm feeling less stressed, otherwise the callers tend to get annoyed.



badRobot
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04 Sep 2012, 12:26 pm

singularity wrote:
Is it possible to turn your phone off until your anxiety subsides? I have days where I have to do that. I just have to make myself return those calls when I'm feeling less stressed, otherwise the callers tend to get annoyed.


Yes, sometimes it is possible, but mostly turning off phone brings even more anxiety. e.g. I'm afraid I'll miss important information regarding project or feel bad about colleagues trying to reach me if they need help on their part of the project which is connected to mine.



LookTwice
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04 Sep 2012, 10:00 pm

Just put the work you do into perspective. How important is that stuff you deal with really? Do people die if you don't do your work?
Does your work make a difference for the people who live 200 years from now? What about people on another continent? Are you getting enough out of it (money, fun, fulfillment ...)? How much of a difference does it make if your work is completed 5 minutes earlier rather than later? If you contrast these so-called important things with facts like death, for example, it might help you develop a more realistic relationship towards work.

People tend to hyper-focus in work environments and start believing things are super important even though ultimately they really aren't. It's pretty weird if you look at it from a more detached position. There are basically three ways how people deal with this:
- they become workaholics and work themselves to short-term success often followed by an uncomfortable crash
- they realize it's more important to seem busy than to be busy, they'll "work" many hours but basically just waste their time
- they find a balance that let's them relax and still be productive when it's necessary

If absolutely everything is important, all the time, then your perception (or company culture) is warped and unhealthy.

With communication stuff: maybe you can try to schedule time when you will attend to that, and just be unavailable the rest of the time. Unless you're a fire fighter or a doctor, people can probably wait for you for a while. People also need to understand that qualitify work cannot be rushed, and if you give in to their demands all the time, they'll keep coming and shouting "faster, faster!". Don't get me wrong, it's a good thing to be a team player and to do your best so that the team can do what it's supposed to do. But you're the one who needs to set certain limits, because usually people won't do it for you.


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badRobot
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05 Sep 2012, 3:47 pm

Thank you very much. Yeah, I'll try to think this way.

Actually I do understand that I should not be anxious, that fears are not real, but still can't do anything about it sometimes.



badRobot
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18 May 2021, 5:41 am

If anyone is interested, after years of trial and error I found solution that consistently works every time.

I just do a short HIIT workout.

Evolution gave us this program to ensure our survival. Stress and anxiety keep us winded up in presence of an immediate threat. It results in mobilization all the resources we need to fight or flight and suppression of all the processes that don't contribute to physical activity, including biochemical processes required for positive motivation and complex mental activity. You are not supposed to be distracted by some abstract ideas when your survival is at stake.

When this mechanism evolved, threat was always physical, the only reliable sign of overcoming a threat was intense physical activity, fleeing or fighting. Now we mostly stressed about very different threats, but this legacy code is still in our DNA.

Our sympathetic nervous system can't tell difference between physical and non-physical threats. So when you worry about failing to file a report on time and being fired or whatever, for your sympathetic nervous system this is the same as being attacked by a mountain lion.

HIIT workout sends the same signals to our sympathetic nervous system as beating the s**t out of mountain lion trying to eat you. It allows your body to relax and allocate more energy for mental activity.