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STRONGER TOGETHER: Missing now to get everything done in hurry-sick state

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Last updated:
14/11/2022

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya focuses on hurry sickness and the power of slowing down.

By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services' Managing Director

In a world where connectivity is constant and productivity is associated with success, it can be hard to say no.

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director
Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

Struggling to say no to jobs, no to meeting up with people and even no to opportunities that we think we could accept but don’t really have the capacity to prioritise is something some people have difficulty with.

It’s what happens when you’re in a ‘hurry sick’ cycle. This pattern takes form in multitasking, rushing, and becoming irritated when obstacles arise.

The over-committed and fast-paced busyness of life with a lack of boundaries and unrealistic time expectations can contribute to a state of hurry sickness.

When people can lose the ability to stop and think, it can lead to an increase in errors, efficiency, direction. Most critically it can have long-term health implications.

While hurry-sickness isn’t a formal diagnosis, it is patterned behavior that reportedly increases your output of cortisol which can lead to burnout and depression. Moreover, staying in a heightened state of urgency and overstimulation can influence levels of fatigue, anxiety, and the ability to relax.

Identifying you’re in a state of hurry sickness can be akin to overcoming motion sickness, you need to slow down and stop. Stop rushing, stop being in a hurry.

Being able to say no to someone or something when you are at your limit is crucial to your quality of life and work.

You need to be able to prioritise yourself and interests with time. You don’t want to be too busy making a living you forget to live a life.

Practicing mindfulness to clear your mind can lead to personal and professional proactive leadership, rather than running on autopilot.

When you stop multitasking, you can start to question why you’re being asked to do something or why you’re spending your time on a particular project and whether it warrants the stress and immediacy you previously applied.

Prioritising work that is time critical rather than undertaking all the opportunities, projects or jobs with a perceived sense of crisis.

Briefly pausing to be present, in the moment not the thought, can have myriad benefits to your wellbeing, mindset and decision-making skills.

You must give yourself permission to take a break and know that there is support available.

Taking a break can take many forms, for some it can be as simple as saying you’ll get back to someone with a response instead of giving an immediate definitive answer.

It can also look like momentarily stepping away to regather your thoughts and composure if situations are heated or uncomfortable. For others it can be switching out language which is unnecessarily rushed – ‘I’ll pop out’, or ‘I’ll quickly get that done too’.

Some of the ways to practice mindfulness include breathing and tapping into your senses (stopping to breath for a minute and taking note of what you can hear, what you can see, what you can touch and what you can smell).

There are plenty of online resources you can access for information about mindfulness and breathing exercises.

Take time to experience life’s simple moments rather than just observing them.

When you slow down and identify what you value, it can become easier to say no to things that aren’t serving you.

Next week I will be focusing on how to determine your values and maintaining boundaries to preserve them.

With an organisational focus on improving lives, it was reassuring to see IMPACT excel in areas of people and wellbeing.

IMPACT scored at or above 80% in five categories including work and life blend, management, social connection, enablement, and teamwork and ownership.

IMPACT’s People and Culture Manager Karen Craft said employee engagement was important for us because high levels of employee engagement correlate to high levels of customer service and organisational performance.

She said the 2021 Employee Engagement Survey was a way of getting direct feedback from our employees and we had a 75% participation rate – which means most people had their say.

“Our engagement score was 76% which meets the benchmark for Australian companies with 100 – 2000 employee and exceeds the benchmark for global Not-For-Profit organisations by 1%,” she said.

“This is a good overall result, both in terms of our stand-alone performance and in comparison to similar sized organisations.

“77% of people who completed the survey also took the time to make a comment, so we have quantitative and qualitative information.”

In addition to the overall IMPACT result, Karen said there were results for teams of three staff or more and the table of results across the teams is called a ‘Heatmap’.

“There are some fantastic results for some teams and a small number of teams where we clearly need to do more to improve their engagement,” she said.

“Engagement reflects levels of enthusiasm and connection that people have with the organisation and the survey has been a way of showing that these things are wanting in a small number of teams.”

Managers are currently discussing the results with teams and we want to identify one action item with each team that’s relevant for them and one for IMPACT overall to improve.  

The actions and another round of communication will be finalised in February 2022.

Please note: This website may contain references to, or feature images, videos, and voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who have passed away.

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