By Jane Burnett 

It’s completely normal to feel like you’ve been thrown into a “sink or swim” situation during your first few weeks in a new position — especially when it’s super stressful. It’s not just about getting through the first day.

Here’s how to handle whatever emotions come your way.

Make sure you know what’s expected of you

This way, you’ll know how you should be spending your time. Instead of aimlessly wondering what your boss thinks or how they expect you to handle your assignments, you can figure out solutions instead.

Don’t panic. Get clear on your manager’s expectations by setting up a one-on-one meeting or briefly dropping by their office.

Plan it out

Erin Greenawald, a content strategist, editor, and freelance writer, provides tips in The Muse for when you’re feeling “overwhelmed at work.” One of them is to “take action: take time to plan,” which could definitely work during your first hectic weeks at a new job.

“Even just writing down what needs to get done and deciding what order you’re going to tackle it in can be pretty powerful. Why? It takes all the things flying madly around your head and puts them into an actionable list. It makes you stop having to think about how you’re going to do your work, and lets you just think about doing it,” she writes.

“So stop panicking for a minute. Breathe. Then pull out a piece of paper and dump every task you have in your mind onto it. And prioritize them,” Greenawald adds. “Then, instead of jumping from task to task, you’ll know exactly what you’re focusing on now and what you’ll focus on next. It’s not wasting time — it’s making the rest of your time more efficient.”

Don’t assume you’ll remember it all — take notes

Robin Reshwan, a professional development coach, Certified Professional Résumé Writer (CPRW) and founder and president of CS Advising and Collegial Services, provides tips for your initial weeks at a new position in U.S. News & World Report.

“A new job has lots of new things to think about and do. Each time your manager, mentor or colleague explains a new process, procedure or request, write down the key components,” she suggests. “Also, make sure you clarify what is being asked and the timeline for completion. It is also helpful to ask what you should do if something does not go as planned.”

Get centered with your favorite podcast or music

This is sure to throw you right back into your element — especially when you’re stressed.

Listening to music that helps you focus, or the sounds of your favorite podcast at your desk, are great ways to decompress when you feel like there’s too much on your plate.

But you can also listen as you walk. Giving yourself time to focus on yourself and what’s going on around you as you walk through the streets can be really freeing.

Originally published at

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