Guilt is an emotion I’ve often felt throughout the pandemic. Guilty for having a job when so many people and entire countries are suffering from dwindling economies and sickness. Guilty for doing weekend trips throughout the pandemic when so many cites are still sheltering-in-place. But mainly, guilty for not having enough motivation to navigate through blurry work-life balance lines.
Pre-pandemic, I was someone known to “magically” get everything done. I’d jam pack my days with fitness classes in the morning, followed by breakfasts or morning events with brands, filling stories in between work meetings, and meeting up with friends for happy hour or dancing after work. Don’t ask me how, but all my tasks, both professional and personal, got done. Crazily, I was even sleeping 8-10 hours every night.
Nearly two years later, and growing tired after 1 or 2 activities or tasks a day, it has become a bit hard to recognize that type of stamina. This phenomenon, task tolerance — also known as work tolerance or frustration tolerance — deals with the individual’s ability and tolerance to perform a task related to their job. If you find it hard to motivate yourself or tolerate certain tasks throughout the day, specifically related to work, I am here to tell you, you are not alone. And unsurprisingly, the pandemic could be making it worse.
Why does task tolerance decrease?
Frustration, or guilt, is often brought on by challenges standing in the way of goals. You might find yourself with too many tasks to do throughout the day and not enough time. Or you’re not willing to make time to complete it all. People with high task tolerance are able to seamlessly deal with hurdles or road blocks.
However, if your task tolerance is low (*raises hand), you might grow frustrated or guilty rather quickly over minor, everyday work inconveniences, avoiding tasks that might cause distress, exaggerating temporary discomfort or insisting that you can’t stand the situation — leading to you giving up on tasks (hard or easy) immediately. Sometimes, it’s so bad that the very thought of having to work on that task can feel intolerable. Of course, your superior will expect you to do all the tasks they assign you, so what can you do to help combat this?
How to increase task tolerance?
The good news is that task tolerance can improve with practice and dedication.
- Accept all situations, especially the hard ones. Basically, stop responding to negative things or setbacks with exaggerated statements and change them into realistic statements instead. Don’t think this is unfair, but instead realize that because your job involves other departments, this can occasionally be the nature of the job.
- Calm your body with meditation, exercise or deep breaths.
- Purposely doing something mildly frustrating or time consuming. The key here is to test the waters and your coping skills to keep you in check for the real thing.
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