A Powerful but Simple Tool for Work-Related Anxiety

Jamie McIlhatton
3 min readFeb 18, 2022
Photo by Luis Villasmil on Unsplash

Let’s be honest, most of the time when we read books, we get very little from it. Frustratingly, we have to keep trawling through the pages constantly searching for some wisdom that’ll benefit our lives. It’s a rarity, but wow, it’s a beautiful one.

A quick bit of context. I own a few restaurants, and that comes with spinning A LOT of plates each day. It’s never ending; once you’ve completed one task, 5 have been added in the meantime. I’m always trying to navigate my way through, in a logical and composed manner. When you’ve got 30 plus employees, that’s a lot of personalities to adapt to, and a lot of emotions to take on (very much including your own).

One thing I’ve learned is absolutely vital for staying on track, is prioritising diet, rest, exercise & sleep. As soon as you let these slip, you begin relying on alcohol and comfort food to bring you happiness at the end of stressful days. That causes the age old ‘vicious circle’ of poor quality sleep, leading to burnout and a complete inability to deal with life’s daily challenges. Exhausting isn’t it?

I’ve been reading ‘What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School’ by Mark McCormack. At first I thought, this is going to be one of those really cheesy, slightly annoying business books, I was so wrong. It’s packed full of value, but here’s one of the most powerful tools I’ve taken from it.

LISTS. It’s hilarious that this is my lightbulb moment, because I think I’ve rejected the idea of lists since the beginning of time. Every ex-girlfriend who swore by them, my response was always “urgh, it’s just not me, I don’t want to base my life around a list”. I want to apologise to every one of my ex-girlfriends.

I started my businesses over two years ago now, and tried to battle through the early days using my trusty brain. Very quickly it reached capacity and began spilling over, i.e. I was regularly forgetting things because I was trying to remember so much.

Shamefully, it’s only during the last 3 months that I’ve really started to lean into organising my life. It’s understandable however; learning new habits is hard, but more often than not, you’ll never look back.

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Jamie McIlhatton

Sustainability Consultant and Owner of @smallmatterofsustainability // A Restaurant owner just trying to take my own advice...