How to Keep Your Sanity When You Work in an Office

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It’s no secret that offices, depending on their layout and design, can be a challenging place for our mental sanity, regardless of your ranking, there’s a lot of things going on and the more people are involved, the more important is to know how to survive.

Due to a wild variety of offices and typologies – think about open offices or cubicles for instance – it’s hard to generalise, but we’ll try to do that by imaging a case study where we all work in an open office, possibly with high density of people and, of course, you’re constantly running out of time with deadline and stressful moments.

Let’s imagine the worse case scenario and try to figure out how to cope with it and how can we stay sane despite it all.

1. Reclaim Privacy

Privacy in an open space, or any cubicle office space for that matters, is a hard concept to grasp. What I think is that privacy, just like respect, isn’t given but earned. Wearing headphones could be a very subtle, but effective way to communicate to the passers by that “No, I’m not looking forward to to talk to anybody.” Of course, don’t exaggerate. Communication in most offices is crucial, so turn the volume down and remember that sometimes you really need to talk to people in order to get things done.

Another way to reclaim privacy is by sticking to a fixed schedule tailored around your needs and timings and making sure that everyone knows that. Tell people when and how they can reach you, or they’ll assume “anytime, anywhere” is the norm.

If they step in your working zone, make sure they know they’re bothering you, even with small casual remarks. You need to establish a routine and educate the people around you in order to claim some sacred working time – just remind them how much it takes a person to regain his/her full focus whenever you’ve been interrupted (ndr, around 15 minutes).

2. Remember your Body

Take breaks, take a walk, stretch out, beware of your posture – write a post it right in front of you with these things. We easily fall into habits and end up ignoring things that are right there under our nose. So make sure you remember that it’s not just about your eyes, your hands on a keyboard and your brain. You’ve got an entire body with you while at work, and if the body isn’t happy, you won’t be happy either.

Make sure to take breaks, five minutes, maybe walk out the office, maybe you’re lucky enough to have a park nearby, a change of hair will do you good. Move your body, change posture often, be aware if you have any pain. A great deal of problems can be avoided if you constantly remind yourself that you should keep moving, especially if sitting in front of a monitor is your major activity.

3. Close the Deal

Most of us walk home carrying a huge load of stress derived from their daily jobs, this will for sure jeopardise your supper, let alone your life. You should make a point, every day, to close the deal and, if you can, foresee what tomorrow brings. Make sure to go home with at least a general idea of how to solve that issue or that situation. Start a diary where you jot down the “closing day” points. If you haven’t talked to someone in the office, do that in few minutes, make sure you’re taking steps to leave your work inside the office walls.

This is a crucial point for your own mental sanity: to separate work and personal life. The point being that work is just work, your life is what really stays with you the whole time and therefore it should be prioritized. You need to take conscious steps in that direction, even where it’s impossible to do, make sure to create some “buffer zone” in between the two and whenever you’re doing it every day, bringing your work at home, take a break, stop it, make sure you have moments where you say “that’s all for today, see you tomorrow.”