Oct 25, 2014

3 Signs You're Over Stimulated At Work

When was the last time you really got to concentrate at work?  I'm not talking about just shutting your door for just a few minutes (if you have one) and drowning out the noise for a few minutes. I'm talking about the kind of concentration where you lose track of time and nothing else matters, except the thing you are working on.


Yeah, we really need that kind of concentration at work, in abundance.  The daily problems we face in our work aren't getting any easier, and the time and resources we have to deal with them are shrinking every day.  So now, more than ever, we need to identify and eliminate the over-stimulating activities at work that are robbing us introverts of our precious time.

Know how to recognize the signs
In the workplace, stimulation is all around us.  Like a frog in boiling water, though, sometimes we don't realize that our environment is slowly getting "hotter" and more draining on our energies, before it's too late and we need to retreat for some serious recharge time. Because of this, it pays to know the signs that you're being over stimulated, so you can take constructive action before it's too late.

Sign #1: Your ears are ringing
There are a lot of physical signs of introvert overwhelm that we sometimes dismiss too easily in our environment, but these can make the difference between having a good day and a nightmare of a day, especially when we're operating at low energy levels.

If you feel some physical strain on your eardrums, and peoples' conversations around you seem muffled, it's quite possible that you are being overstimulated by a noisy environment.  Stepping out of a noisy environment to give your physical senses a break can work wonders for your productivity at work, too.  Sometimes, the best way to find that new and innovative idea you've been looking for is to simply change your surroundings, so you can discover the value of quiet reflection.

Sign #2: You are "round-robining" through your work
Have you ever gotten some just-plain-bad advice at work?  I was once told that I needed to "look more busy", and to do this I should always be working on two or three things at the same time so I could get more work done.  As introverts, we are naturally less inclined to multitasking because it takes us much longer to re-focus on a new task after switching from an old one.

So the next time you have more than one task to do, be careful that you're not spending all of your time switching between them because you're trying to live up to the extrovert ideal of having lots of balls in the air.  This type of over-stimulation trap can be very easy for introverts to fall into, and relatively easy to get out of as well.  Even if it's only 5 or 10 minutes at a time, just focus on one thing at a time, it's really that simple! :)

Sign #3: Simple tasks feel like impossible tasks
Sometimes, one of the best remedies to introvert overwhelm at work is to give ourselves permission to take a 5-minute "reboot" and re-assess our priorities for the day.  When we don't allow ourselves to do this, we run the risk of assuming that each additional thing we need to do before the end of the day will be just as difficult as our last task.

This happens to me a lot when I'm working on a fast-paced software project and my environment is changing on a daily basis. Because we assume that any new piece of work will be hard, as introverts I think that we are more prone to putting things off for longer than we need to, without considering that there could have been a more simple or elegant solution to our work problems.  This is another classic case of introvert overwhelm.

These are just few of the signs that you might be over stimulated at work.  There are many more, but these three have certainly nagged at me many times in my own career!  I hope you found these helpful.

What do you think?  Is there a specific aspect of your workplace that you wish you could improve, to reduce your risk of over stimulation?  I would love to hear from you in the comments!
All the best,

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