Kaizen Musings — Why Is There So Much Stress At Work

Do you feel really stressed sometimes? If so, do you wonder where this stress comes from?

Perhaps it comes from not meeting our own expectations. Perhaps it comes from trying to live up to others expectations. Perhaps it comes from all the frustrations that we have of seeing all the unproductive activities that are happening around us — corruption in our society, the games been played by politicians, the games that are played in corporate lives.

All these things don’t gel with us — we keep thinking about them and they give us stress. Our ways of relieving these stresses are very negative. They get us into the kind of activities that keep us busy, temporarily provide relieve, but the cycle continues.

The way out is to have daily routines, practices and simple exercises that help you de-stress everyday and help you live a very satisfying existence.

Daily Routines to Remove Stress at Work

Stress is often caused by the feeling of being out of control of a situation. When we cannot handle what is happening around us, we feel frustrated and stressed.

By having simple routines that make us feel in control, we eliminate a lot of the anxiety from our daily lives.

So what are these routines for the workplace? Before I delve into the subject, it is important to understand that habits are formed through repetition of small actions over a period of time.

If the actions you are repeating on a daily basis are negative, then you will develop negative habits. The converse is true — positive actions lead to positive habits.

The first reaction I get when I tell people this is how difficult it is to develop positive habits. Working in lean manufacturing for many years has taught me that positive change can be achieved if only you make the first step then build on the momentum.

Overcoming inertia requires just one small step. Then another small step. Consistency is key. Just like a toddler learning to walk, failure should not be a deterrent to achieving progress — just dust yourself up and try again.

In the workplace, stress can be caused by:

  • Excessive workload
  • Poor interpersonal relationships
  • Project deadlines
  • Tough bosses
  • Overtime
  • Financial pressures
  • Personal issues
  • Health problems

These causes can be mitigated in a number of ways. We need to be cognizant of the fact that we all have a finite amount of time each day.

How we use each minute of our day is important. On average, people spend at least 8 hours of their day at work each day.

Of those eight hours, there is research that suggests that we are only productive a third of the time. This means that over 60% of our work day is spent on non value added activities.

If most work related stress is caused by inability to complete tasks, then proper time management can help.

If you are getting stressed because you are not able to meet deadlines, better use of your time can help you.

Most of the topics on this blog are about lean manufacturing principles, tools and techniques.

The key in lean is reducing waste while developing people’s ability to learn and innovate.