Tips to stay focus at work while having problems

I received this message on Facebook from my former student. So I thought of answering it in my blog so that other readers may also benefit from it.

As someone who was fighting depression, my focus was always divided, between life and work. I was a lecturer and I have to say that my working hours were odd. Sometimes my days started as early as 8 o'clock. Other days I would not go to the office until 11 in the morning, but would punched out at 10 at night.

There were days when I was too busy even to make visits to the toilet. There were also days where I shopped online just to kill the boredom of being at work. ๐Ÿ˜‚Ok, don't tell that to my boss, hahaha.

While having depression, of course most of the time I was always thinking about the problems I had. I had unattached focus. I might be talking to a senior colleague at the office, staring at her face, but what was really in my mind ... well, you don't even wanna know.

But ask anybody who was around me at that point of time, when I was at the lowest point of my life. My colleagues, my students, do they know I was suffering from depression and made visits to the hospital twice per month? No! 

Saying that I was an exemplary worker is maybe, a bit overstretched... but I performed my duties excellently and my boss once told me, "Nazida, you are VERY committed to your work!" And mind you, this boss actually resembles the character of The Devil Wears Prada๐Ÿ’ 

Few occasions where I was giving lectures in front of the class and I had sudden urges to cry or to sob, whichever suited the situation. I was the centre of attention for God's sake! How could I cry in front of my students?

So I pretend to turn to the whiteboard in order to write something, and I cried. At the brief moment of facing the whiteboard, I sob silently, I wiped away the tears and turned back to face my audience. Voila! How did I do that? I don't know.

You see, the boss doesn't want to hear a "Sorry boss, but I'm having a tornado in my life right now." Who cares, right? And remember, as an employee, we are always replaceable. You don't do well in your job, fine! The Human Resource Department can put up a notice finding someone to take over your place, as soon as the next day. So, you have to find ways to overcome the burdensome situation and stay more focus in doing your work.

I would love to share with you of what I had done previously. In trying to balance the problems that I was having and also concentrating on doing my job. Hopefully it can help you too in staying focus and at the same time be a good employee while having a cyclone in your mind and heart. 

1. Always know your limit 

It's normal for human to have problems in life. It is something that you can't control, but.. you can control your reaction towards them. Feeling sad or grieving over matters are highly necessary. It's part of being human. 

However, there's always a limit to all the things that surround us. Do not let your problems conquer your life. You, dictate you. Not your problems. Always tell yourself that you have your job to attend to and you can dwell on your problems later that day. 

2. Prioritize 

By telling your problem that you will deal with them later, is not actually an act of ignoring. You are just prioritizing and this is important, not only in discharging your duties as an employee, but also in life. Don't try to ignore your problems completely cause it will come and haunt you in ways that you can never imagine. 

Just tell them that you will come back and deal with them later, after you had completed all your tasks for that day. So, dedicate a time for working, and a time for stressing over issues. 

3. Find a place at the office where you can vent 

I will recommend this if you are up to here in dealing with your problems *pointing to the nose. If your work is taking too long, perhaps you need to have frequent visits to the bathroom and try to take a deep breath. In Malaysia, almost all workplaces have their own prayer rooms. You can choose to go there too. 

I was lucky that I had a room all to myself in the office, so I usually just sat there and be quiet. At all times, I would tell myself that it is now the time to work and I need to stay focus. Or I would just sit and finished all my work at once, including the work that I had to submit few weeks ahead. Being busy helps a lot in paying no mind to problems. 

4. Take five, or ten if you may 

If your work involves meeting people, then it is highly advisable to take a break from them, time to time. Excuse yourself, and refer to Solution 3 above. If longer period is required then maybe you can tell your boss that you will be back later that morning/ afternoon, if it is permissible. If it is not, take more toilet breaks or make full use of your lunch break. 

Having interval breaks will help you in regaining your strengths, which you need a lot of. The strengths to complete your task and the strengths to also deal with your problems.

5. Eliminate negative thoughts 

Listen to motivational songs on Youtube for a while. Or you can try googling motivational quotes which are easily accessible online. I like to read motivational quotes, sometimes posting it on my social media to share them with my friends and also as a self-reminder. 

You have to put aside all the negative feelings that you have and compose yourself to be hard as nails. Or, you can sing, "Happy thoughts, happy thoughts come to me please" ๐Ÿ˜„ and start thinking about all positive events that had occurred in your life, hahaha. 

Regardless, the office is not a place for you to mope around. It is a locus where you make a living and I think it deserves some respect from you. Come on... do you like a spouse/ partner who sulks and looks sullen all the time? Neither does the office. 

6. Wear different hats 

You know what they say about us being actors in this world. That's substantially true. Or, another way of saying it is we are actually wearing different hats, playing multiple roles in being us. Sometimes we are the loving daughters or sons, we can also be the attentive husbands or wives, diligent students, playful brothers or sisters and not to mention the careers we are involved with, add that too. 

Whenever I walk into the work place, I always make sure that I am a different person. I will leave the other different hats and just assume the role of being a lecturer/ lawyer. That would mean leaving all the problems behind and anything else related to it. I will pull all the strength I have to focus only on what I am doing. I am one dedicated employee, I must say. 

Years after I married Mr H, he revealed to me that was what he was doing too. Wear different hats and leave all problems aside once he step into the work place.

7. Stay focus, stay focus, stay focus... or lose your job

As had been mentioned earlier in Point No. 5, the office is a place for you to make a living. Your whole point of surviving in life very much depends on the office. You can't afford to lose your job. Unless you are born on silver plates, how are you going to survive if you are terminated. There are thousands, if not millions of people out there who share the same qualifications as you do. 

The Human Resouce Department can easily find someone to take over your place and do the same job as you had done. Thus, you have to stay focus and complete your task whether you like it or not. If you are supporting your parents or your spouse, then their lives also depend on you. So you better take the bull by the horns and change. 

I had outlined all the points that I can think of here. I hope that this post will answer the question posted by my former students and also benefit others. On another note, if you feel that there is additional points that you want to add, please do so by adding it to the comment section.

Come on guys! We can do this! 


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