Anxiety is synonymous with new things, at least in my books. I’m more likely to be anxious about things that are new and unknown to me than the routine things I’m exposed to daily. I think most humans could agree.
Fear of the unknown and fear of what I can’t control, breed anxiety. And thanks to my new job as Social Media Specialist at Product Gym, I’ve been a walking, talking ball of anxiety for the past few weeks.
As I’m wrapping up week three on the job, I can confidently say my anxiety has diminished a lot compared to the first week when I had no clue what was going on. I now have a better idea of what my role entails and how the company works so I have a better grasp on things.
But that wasn’t always the case.
For my first two weeks at Product Gym, I was constantly anxious and that didn’t feel good. I got little to no sleep, I felt very unproductive, and the impostor syndrome was at an all-time high. I’m sure these are all normal feelings one faces when starting a new job, but I didn’t like it and I wasn’t risking one more night of sleep over my anxiety. So I decided to do something about it.
The way I like to handle my anxiety is by acquiring knowledge of what I’m supposed to be doing and finding areas where I can control outcomes. Over the last week, I did a few things to help me gain knowledge and control as a new employee at a small company and I want to share them with you because I know I’m not the only one who struggles with this.
So if you’re feeling anxious about starting a new job, listen up. I might have a few things that can help.
I did a whole blog post on this a few weeks ago but this is important to reiterate.
When you’re starting at a new job, nobody expects you to know anything. So take advantage of that and ask your direct manager or team as many questions as you need to. I guarantee that will help you feel less anxious.
Ask what your day-to-day should look like. Ask which tasks have a higher level of priority so that you can start working on them right away. When you don’t know what you’re supposed to be doing, be proactive and ask. Don’t just let the anxiety boil inside of you.
Something that helped me was to keep a list of questions. Whenever a question popped up, I’d write it on my list so that I wouldn’t forget to ask when I got the opportunity to. Keeping my question list also helped me keep track of the questions that got answered organically as I gained more experience at the job.
Clearing up all those unknowns will take a lot of weight off your shoulders and will, in turn, reduce your anxiety. Plus you’ll know what to do and you’ll be able to start adding value sooner rather than later.
Take notes at all times
It’s impossible to retain all the information that we come across daily. And the busier you are, the less likely you are to retain information in your brain. That is why note-taking is a great habit to get into.
If you struggle to know what you’re supposed to be doing or you’re just not sure how to add value, open up a doc –– or grab a pen and paper –– and take notes at all times.
Taking notes at big meetings, at 1-1 meetings, and even during slack conversations can help reduce your anxiety. Doing so will help you feel less clueless. And if you still have questions (as one does when they’re new), the information in your notes will help you frame better, more useful questions.
Note-taking is also great to hold yourself and others on your team accountable. Once you write things down, they most likely stay there forever. So you can always go back and check.
Create a task list
This one could be the most obvious way to reduce new-job anxiety, but it’s still worth mentioning.
I’m a firm believer in task lists. No matter if they’re written on paper, on your google calendar, or a fancy program like Asana. Tasks lists help more than you think.
Creating to-do lists will help you feel more in control of your day and responsibilities. By clearly outlining everything you need to do on a given day, you take a lot of the guesswork out of your job.
At PG, we use Asana and I find it very helpful because I can see all of the tasks that are assigned to me and their deadlines. But I don’t just stop there. Every single day, I look at my Asana tasks and combine them with my recurring tasks in a daily to-do list so that I can see all the things I need to work on.
And, I don’t know about you, but checking off my to-dos is extremely satisfying and my anxiety is reduced every single time I see one less thing I have to work on.
Task lists are the oldest trick in the book but they work! That’s probably why they’ve been around for so long in the first place.
Here’s the thing: as the weeks go by at your new job, you’ll start to get the hang of things and your anxiety will reduce with time. I know it doesn’t feel like it at first, but I promise it gets better.
Hell, I’m only on week three and my anxiety has reduced significantly. And yeah, that’s partly thanks to these three tips that I shared with you, but it has also come with time.
There will always be a certain amount of anxiety and stress-related to your job, but I think in most cases, that just means you care about doing excellent work. These three things have helped me reduce my new-job anxiety and I’m 100% sure they’ll keep helping me for as long as I suffer from anxiety.
So if you’re struggling with new-job anxiety and are desperate for a solution, try these tips. I’m sure they’ll help you as much as they did me.