When we feel stressed out or anxious about something, our brains tend to respond by narrowing how many options we see as available. That’s why, when we’re about to decide in these states of mind, it becomes hard for us to see alternatives that would help us address our problems.
When you stop making decisions during periods of high stress, you’ll be able to see all the different possibilities in front of you instead of limiting yourself down to two extremes. Follow these five tips to help prevent stress-induced decisions and brain fog and find better solutions when work challenges arise.
Don’t overanalyze things.
In many cases, leaders fall on one end of the spectrum. Are you someone who tends to make impulsive decisions by leaning on your gut to make them? Or would you consider yourself the opposite – a leader who suffers from “analysis paralysis” to the point where you don’t decide at all?
It is possible to tweak your approaches, falling somewhere between the two. For example, when approaching a high-stake decision, weigh the potential risks of each option. Think each one through and ask others for input, and make a choice. When you approach decisions this way, you aren’t overlooking critical facts or data, but you aren’t losing yourself in it, either.
Delegate with thoughtfulness, proactiveness, and clarity.
Have you ever been in a situation where you needed to delegate a task but kept finding it hard to hand off? Maybe you couldn’t let it go because you were in a crunch, and you trusted yourself to do it the right way. Still, you rushedly and reluctantly handed it off.
When you checked in to see if it was completed, but it wasn’t, you realized you failed to mention a deadline. Or perhaps your employee completed it in a different or wrong way from what you wanted, and now you’re facing more stress trying to start over.
In this case, your sense of control and urgency got in the way. Don’t let worrisome thoughts interfere with you taking the time to be thorough. Before handing off a task, be specific with your instructions. Be clear with how you want it done, when you’d like it by, and why the task is so important.
Remove distractions to think clearly.
Distractions are everywhere, making it harder for us to see solutions during periods of stress. Maybe the chatter surrounding you is bothering you, or maybe your phone keeps buzzing with notifications distracting you.
Whatever the case may be, when you remove distractions that are causing you stress or anxiety, you can start thinking clearly because your brain will not have to work to filter out the noise.
Be mindful of your words, but don’t overthink them.
If someone asks about an assignment they’re working on, they’re most likely looking for feedback. When you give them your thoughts, don’t beat them around the bush. In other words, you don’t need to waste time trying to soften the blow whenever you see room for improvement. With compassion and straightforwardness, explain what someone is doing well, then make actionable suggestions.
Welcome new ideas and solutions.
When you and your team face a problem at work, you might feel the need to argue a solution with utmost conviction; or, you might feel that remaining completely open to suggestions from others is the necessary route. The problem is that one approach conveys that you are indoctrinating your team, while the other suggests a lack of confidence or certitude. In either case, you aren’t likely to gain the following or support – and certainly not the answers – you seek.
When facing persistent issues at work that seem impossible to solve, be clear in your desire for your team to solve them with you. Discuss the issue openly, talk about which solutions have failed, and clarify that you are looking for your team to share viable ideas.
Your mind might trick you at times into feeling otherwise, but the more stress there is at your job, the more you will benefit from more options – not less. Make it a practice to continually remove yourself from the picture so you can see the bigger one.