Workplace Stress - What's Your Name?

Workplace Stress – What’s Your Name?

Episode 61

Could workplace stress be affecting your memory? Have you found yourself asking someone: “What’s your name?” What are some tips that can help you manage this stress and improve your retention?

Host(s): Jonathan Saar from Market Me Social and Mark Howell from Howl Creative Concepts

Show Highlights

We have all done it. Walked into a room, stood there, and realized we had absolutely no clue as to why we went there in the first place. What about you? Do you feel like your brain is a little fuzzier than usual? Take comfort; you are not alone! 

A recent article on LinkedIn highlighted that stress can damage our memories. Considering we are coming out of what is probably the most stressful past two years, it stands to reason that we are all struggling to keep our thoughts straight. This article will drill down on some of the triggers that can up our stress and share tips that we personally use to give our brains the breaks they genuinely deserve.

Key Questions/Topics Covered

Let’s talk about workplace stress and forgetfulness

The pandemic didn’t do us any favors as far as stress is concerned. As we slowly move out from the Covid shadow, workplace stress may be be lessened, but it will still exist. Our world has this crazy expectation that we need to remember every little thing. Every person’s name we have ever met. Every story we have ever been told. It just isn’t realistic. If anything, it just adds to our stress which in turn increases our forgetfulness. Face it; we can only cram so much information into our brains at any given time before it starts waving a white flag.

Here is a funny but eye-opening experience I had that really illustrates this. It was a few months back, and I was under a considerable amount of stress. I had just finished another marathon work session when I got up to go to the kitchen to get some water from the fridge. I didn’t make it. Instead, I found myself at the front door with my thermos pressed firmly to it, expecting it would somehow dispense water.

After I was done laughing at myself, I got to thinking: How many other things had I forgotten? I was a living example of the connection between stress and forgetfulness. It made me realize that there has to be a better way. Simply put, we need to reduce our stress and boost our memory skills. But how?

Mark’s tips and tricks to help you remember and stay on track

Mark meets an innumerable amount of people while training or at conventions. Is it possible for him to remember every individual’s name? Of course not! But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t try. The first tip he shared is that he immediately sets a precedent whenever he engages with a large audience, which is a stress reliever in itself. He simply states that he will do his absolute best to remember everyone’s name, but if he happens to forget to, he asks that people please share where they are from or perhaps the conversation that took place to help jog his memory.

Another trick Mark uses is to try and relate the person to a familiar person in his life; for Mark, it’s usually a movie character. He also tries to remember something that stood out to him—a piece of clothing or certain mannerisms or comments that the person made. These little mental exercises have proven to help him retain information.

Mark is also a huge proponent of effective time management. If you find yourself overwhelmed with too many tasks going on, then you need to stop and ask yourself: “Why is this happening? Am I doing too much?” There is lots of tech out there that can organize your day and help you create to-do lists to keep you on track. Figure out when you are at your best and build a reasonable and attainable schedule around that.

My tip to increase retention while decreasing stress

We need to become more self-aware and conscious of the warning signs of burnout. Working in property management, so many policies and procedures need to be followed. If we get overwhelmed and forget even one of them, we could be headed for trouble—for example, fair housing laws. Nobody wants to be in a situation like that.

Part of this is also recognizing that our work isn’t the only source of our stress. We all have other stressors in our lives, be it family, health, finances, and the list goes on. Once we have identified our pain points, we can begin creating a plan to make any needed adjustments to decrease our stress.

For example, I was struggling with back-to-back meetings. I know that it is sometimes unavoidable, but it just left me feeling exhausted with so much information competing for space. So I institute ten-minute breaks. I use Google to schedule my meetings, and by default, they always schedule for 50 minutes.

Those ten minutes between meetings are now mine. I get up, go for a walk with Baloo and get some fresh air. These micro-breaks not only help me assimilate and retain more of what was discussed, but they are also incredibly beneficial when it comes to reducing my stress.

Final workplace stress takeaway – Hey, I remember your name!

Stress, like it or not, is unavoidable. Some pressure can create beneficial challenges and keep us motivated. But when we find ourselves trying to get water from a door or not remembering anyone’s name, it might be time to take a step back and try a few of the tips and tricks you learned here today.

Class dismissed!

Jonathan (00:15): Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 61 of the Juvohub podcast. Today, we are talking about workplace stress and memory issues. I'm your host. My name is Jonathan Saar. And with me today, back in action, Mark Howell from Howl Creative Concepts. How are you, man?

Mark (00:34): I'm great, buddy. Thank you. Thanks for having me again. I love it.

Jonathan (00:38): Yes. Yes. This is always a highlight of my day, my week.

Mark (00:43): .

Jonathan (00:43): To be able to get on here and talk about these subjects and this one's a really, really important one, too. It, it showed up on my LinkedIn feed. I had never really given it a whole lot of consideration. I'll definitely put the link in the show notes for everyone to read. But it talked about the stress that we've been under and, you know, from the pandemic and everything that's kind of like related to that. And that level of stress has contributed to memory issues. You know, it doesn't matter how old we are. So I'll put that to you, Mark. I mean, is that something that you've heard from other people, noticed maybe within yourself or like what have you- what's the landscape been like in general on this topic?

Mark (01:33): Yeah. Well, forgetfulness, yes, comes up a lot in my world as I've gotten older and I'm not sure if that's an old age thing or if it is industry related, work related. But I, you know, look, I think you and I, both, we come in contact with so many people in an event at an event or in our careers, names are really difficult for me. I typically don't forget faces, but I try to always tell people, especially if they're in a large group, I'll say, you know, look guys, I may not always remember your names. But just come and tell me where we were together. And then that will jog my memory. I always try to, first of all, forewarn a larger audience that I have the potential of seeing again to forewarn them of that because, you know, I think it's, there's this crazy expectation that we're supposed to remember everyone and everyone's name and where we've met them. And I know for me, it's impossible. I just can't, my brain doesn't hold that much data, I guess.

Jonathan (02:39): Right.

Mark (02:40): But yes, I think that as we have gotten busier it is a problem just, how do we teach ourselves little tricks or tips to remember things to release stress? Because I also think that affects our memory. It affects how our brain works when we feel stressed out. So I think we're gonna talk a little bit about that.

Jonathan (03:00): Absolutely. Yeah. I, for this podcast, you know, we're neither you or I are neuroscientists and do not have a degree in brain chemistry, surgery or anything related to that. However, this is just a common item and I just, again, I found that article, very eye opening and in a way I had forgotten about it. You know, I didn't even think that that was something that should be addressed as a professional. And so that's why we have it on the podcast, ladies and gentlemen, and everyone out there. We wanted to, you know, bring this to everyone's attention and get your feedback on what are your tips for dealing with forgetfulness? You know, I remember, and, you know, there's certain things you can laugh at. The beginning of the year, it was like insanely busy with just multiple projects going on at one time.

Jonathan (04:04): And like all of us, we get tired. And I remember just being, so just like, you're going through your head. It's like, I gotta do this. I gotta do this. I gotta do this. So I gotta, my, I have this, this canteen people on YouTube. You can see it here. It's just a water canteen that I use throughout the day and I wanted to fill it up. And instead of going to the refrigerator, I went to the front door and I'm not kidding you. I put this canteen against the door.

Mark (04:41): .

Jonathan (04:41): You know, and whether you wanna call that forgetfulness or just being exhausted, you know, it was funny, but that's what this little study, you know, triggered in my mind, like, okay, how many things have I forgotten to do? Like, I can't find my keys or I can't find my phone.

Mark (05:02): .

Jonathan (05:03): You know, so it's, this is what this is for. Think back. What's your routine right now? And do you see a pattern where you're starting to forget more things and understand where it's coming from and let's share with each other, some little tips that could help minimize that impact, you know?

Mark (05:25): Yeah. I like that story, you know, it's funny, you don't know how many times I found my keys in the refrigerator, and the milk in the pantry. I'm like, what's, what's happening here, you know?

Jonathan (05:34): .

Mark (05:35): So woo. I think that it's valuable for us to, when you are in those types of situations to recognize that and ask yourself, why is this happening? Am I trying to do too much at this particular time in my life, you know, today, meaning, it's three o'clock and you're standing at the front door waiting for it to give you water. Like, what else was happening in that day that might have overwhelmed your circuitry, you know, up there, like the circuits are starting to malfunction. And I think it's, it's valuable to say, okay, this is where and why I am, where I am. Because I'm trying to do too much and start evaluating that.

Mark (06:17): It kind of goes into the fundamentals of time management, right? Or making to-do lists, helping your brain understand exactly what it needs to do or what it needs to stay focused on to me is invaluable. If I know I have a busy day, I have to write everything down. I'm so thankful for this device right here. That puts all of my- it's a calendar now that it helps keep me scheduled. Could you imagine you remember back in the day when we had those big, huge, like 10 by 10 paper calendars we'd put on our desks.

Jonathan (06:50): Yep.

Mark (06:50): And we wrote on 'em. Could you imagine me walking around with that all day? So it's using technology. It can help you organize your life, finding ways to play little games about memory. But for me, one of the most important things that you can understand about yourself is at what times of the day are you most valuable? I call this your circadian rhythm. If you'd ever do research about the circadian rhythm, it's when your internal clock is at its best. And when it's at its weakest only, you can determine that. So when are you at your sharpest, try to do some of the things that are more important when you are truly at your sharpest, but knowing your circadian rhythm is very valuable.

Jonathan (07:37): Yeah, no, that's cool. I forgot. I forgot about that thing. ,

Jonathan (07:44): You know, and I think for our industry in particular, just think of the episode that we just had previous to this one, talking about the amount of work that we're involved in. And so now we're looking at some intriguing factors on this show, stress, fatigue, and being able to remember what should be basic things that we normally do. And I connect this with the amount of compliance requirements that we have in our industry, and maybe you're fairly new to fair housing, and it's not like you're not like a 30 year veteran where it's like, it's totally ingrained, but you're an overworked younger professional, there's you can't afford to forget those things, you know?

Mark (08:36): Mm-hmm .

Jonathan (08:37): And so that's where I think I like your tip, I think we need to continue to do more work to make sure that we're taking care of ourselves.

Mark (08:49): Mm-Hmm, .

Jonathan (08:49): Taking care of our mental health, taking care of our emotional health and as leaders, making sure that we look at our team and understand that there's more to life than just work. There's so many other contributing factors, cause you could easily say, well, their job's not that difficult, it's not that stressful, but that's just one part of all of our lives. There are so many things that are going on that are contributing to that stress. Could be family issues could be health issues, could be economic issues and all those things are going through our mind and contributing to a potential pattern of forgetfulness. So that's, I'm gonna, you know, step back towards being aware will help move things forward and, hopefully, make some changes. I liked your tip too Mark about, you know, when you're within a group of people. So do you do any certain things like when you've meet, when you've met a group for first time and you said you recognize faces, is there anything that, like, what does it, what helps you like recognize them? Do you do anything like in, in your head?

Mark (10:11): I do I sometimes have to, I do this with some of my neighbors in the neighborhood. I'll give you a funny little story. So there was a neighbor that I was meeting, well, not only for the first time, but actually for the second and third time and I couldn't remember their names. And so as I was standing there, I related them to either characters in a movie that they reminded me of or somebody that I knew. I sort of, there was this guy, David, that I used to work with a little wirey, like real firecracker, just talkative, just constantly moving. And the neighbors kind of like that. And so I knew like I just related him to the old David that I remembered their personalities and mannerisms being the same and his wife is Sandy. And I thought of Sandy from Greece because she did something from the movie.

Mark (11:07): But for me, I love, I love movies. I love that type of reality or, or false reality, whatever. Ao it's easy for my brain to associate people with that type of character or memory. Or if I can't really align them with a character from a movie, I'll look at something about either their clothing or their personality and try to remember something that was interesting or quirky about it. And when I do that, it sort of, for some reason does stick in my brain. And so the next time I see them, I usually can say, Hey, how was, you know, this person that we were talking about in our last conversation, my brain remembers like, remember she was the quirky one that was talking about her husband or her dog or whatever, or a problem. I also try to look at people's maybe emotional state where they are.

Mark (12:01): And sometimes it, I remember comments that they made and that's how I can remember who they are. But so recently when I was in a group of 30 people and was going to spend a lot of time with these people, with the CAM class, I had to tell them, you know, guys, I do come in contact with a lot of people in my career and names sometimes do get a little lost. So please, when you come up to me in the future, just remind me how we met each other. I will never forget your face, but I sort of now I own it. I own when I'm going to make that mistake. And I've never been great with names, but I do try really hard to play those kind of games and association games with myself. But I also, I'm just really honest with people and I'll say, you know what? I don't always remember names, but I'm really great with faces. So I just, it's honesty.

Jonathan (12:54): Yeah, no, that's good. I love the word association that that's really cool. And there was one other little tip in this article that resonated with me and I'm like, okay, I kind of already do this. So here's the steps that I take. You know, I never book back to back meetings, never as much as possible. And there's the rare occasion where there's just so many things going on. People are trying to squeeze stuff in and I will obviously acquiesce to help them out. But in general, it's like if I have a one o'clock meeting on and you can do this with Google calendar, I'm sure you can do it with other calendars also. It's defaults to 50 minutes. It doesn't default to to one hour. So if someone wants to book one, o'clock it automatically books it from one to one 50.

Mark (13:45): Yeah.

Jonathan (13:46): Because you know, on my smart watch, I got a Fitbit. What happens at the top of every hour it's telling me to get up and I, as much as I can, I do that. You know, so you guys have seen it on the show. I got an Australian cattle dog. He loves being outside. And so it's, he forces it on me too, which is great, but I love the fact that I can, I stop for about 10 minutes, just go outside, take a little break, clean up the brain a little bit and then go back at it. And its been so beneficial to me. I'm so glad that I made that change as opposed to just, you know, back to back to back. So now it's like, that's part of my programming is to, just to make sure I take these little micro breaks throughout the day in order to help kind of assimilate what I just did in that meeting or whatever project that I was involved in.

Jonathan (14:50): So yeah. That's great. That's great advice. Yeah. So we'd love everyone's advice. Like if you have any tips, please please share them with us. We'd love to hear your comments and feedback on, you know, what's been helping you. But as we said at the outset, the purpose of this podcast was just awareness that it's there. And as leaders to be aware of where, how it could be affecting your team's overall performance and their efficiency. So be aware of it and do all that you can to help them out. So thank you for everyone for being on the show. Again, we love your support. Thank you for giving us reviews on your favorite podcast station and your comments on our YouTube channel. We really appreciate it. Make sure you've signed up for our newsletter. You can go to Juvo, and you'll be able to sign up for that, that way you won't miss out on anything at all. So thanks again, Mark, for being on the show. We'll see you next time. Class dismissed.

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