I Want To Be In The Room Where It Happens

A Guide to Understanding and Managing FOMO in the workplace

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  • There is always someone higher up making decisions that you will not be a part of.
  • The anxiety around missing out is a mental issue not solved with a new title or role.
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Photo by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash
  • Email — There is a reason that some companies implement email policies that prevent emailing during certain times of the day. Email may represent the oldest form of electronic noise at work, but it still creates a large potential for distraction throughout every business day.
  • Meetings — If not attending then they create anxiety about what is being discussed. If attending, they create apprehension about what other people are accomplishing. If attending and presenting then speaking in front of peers and managers can create stress.
  • Personal Stuff — The world doesn’t stop turning during the workday. Personal issues play a part in people’s moods and emotions while at work and can contribute additional angst on top of any stress coming from the workplace.
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Photo by Valeriia Bugaiova on Unsplash

“The art of the compromise — Hold your nose and close your eyes”

This one is straightforward. Reduce your noise and limit your sensory inputs. Shut it out, hold your nose, close your eyes. Put in some earplugs if you need to. By minimizing the things in front of you and focusing only on the elements providing meaningful information, you will have more bandwidth to sift and filter the information flow down to a manageable level.

  • Adjust Notification Settings — For daily tools, take the time to explore the settings. Every communication tool and project management app has notifications settings. Even Windows 10 has new Focus Assist settings. Managing notification settings allows only the most important messaging through and lowers daily noise.
  • Multitasking Is A Myth — Concentrating on a single task provides a lot of benefits during daily work. Treat checking notifications as just another task to complete instead of a constant interruption. Managing anxiety is easier when checking notifications is a task that only occurs after completing more important items.
  • Define Your Processes And Stick To Them — One way to exert control over your steps and actions throughout the workday is to establish routines and processes. This includes taking notes, to-do list administration, and personal task management. Owning the management of your time is a great way to build confidence in your actions and avoid FOMO.

“We want our leaders to save the day — But we don’t get a say in what they trade away“

Consider this in reverse order. The feeling of missing out can be strongest when we feel that we don’t have a voice or a part of the decision-making process. Frustration occurs when the decisions and reasons behind those decisions are not transparent to all involved.

  • Stay In The Know — If meetings are optional, then don’t be afraid to go see what is going on. Use the tools available to check out product roadmaps and upcoming initiatives. Use this information to position yourself to be knowledgeable about projects and events. In doing so, you will create transparency showing that you aren’t missing out. This effort can also expose opportunities to step up and tackle new projects and show leadership in different areas.
  • Build Face To Face Relationships — You can build relationships via text and communication tools, but a huge part of human communication is non-verbal. There is even less understanding provided when communicating only by text. The chance for misinterpretation when chatting on Slack is much, much higher than when talking to someone face to face. Building relationships in person will go a long way towards making communication better and then, when communication does need to occur via text, the chance of the message creating anxiety from being misread is much less.
  • Ask for 1-on-1s — These face-to-face meetings are becoming very popular for the interaction and relationship building opportunities that they present. Not only do they provide a two-way street for feedback and constructive criticism, but they present huge opportunities to address many of the symptoms of FOMO through straightforward conversations. 1-on-1 meetings with your manager can be a great way to gain insight and knowledge, build relationships, and work through workplace anxiety.

“We dream of a brand new start — But we dream in the dark for the most part — Dark as a tomb where it happens“

We are back to the first step — relax. Stress can feed on itself and grow to overwhelm even the strongest of people. In the worst cases, incorrect identification of the root cause causes some people to look for new environments to avoid the stressors.

  • Engage Teammates And Help Others — Interacting with other people on your team or other groups in the organization is a fantastic way to build relationships. This provides insight into what others are working on, keeps you in the loop, and builds leadership skills that can open more doors going forward. Even if you aren’t jumping in on a work problem, getting out of your office and talking face-to-face strengthens the culture of your environment.
  • Shift Your Focus — Let’s face it, FOMO is a mental condition. If you can figure out how to identify when you get into that state, then you can take steps to change your mental state into a more positive and productive mindset. This isn’t easy, but in building your processes and focusing on singular tasks it is possible to re-focus on one thing and work to move on when you identify the feeling that you are missing out on something.
  • Practice Mindfulness — If all else fails, some general focus on yourself can get you over the hump and into a better state of mind. Exercise is always beneficial. There are many shorter, 2–5 minute meditation routines available through basic searching or apps. Try a few minutes of meditation in a quiet corner when you feel the anxiety starting to build. Go outside for a few minutes during a break or at lunchtime to soak up some vitamin D. The goal here is to focus on yourself and your needs so you can get past this anxiety and be the best you possible.

“I’ve got to be in — The room where it happens“

With a little effort, you won’t feel the need to be in the room where it happens to feel fulfilled and happy at work.

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Photo by Xan Griffin on Unsplash

Written by

Engineer. Manager. Husband. Father. Wanna-be Writer. Editor-In-Chief & Grand Poobah of www.kevinwanke.com

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