Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff at Work | Richard Carlson | Book Summary


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Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff at Work: Simple Ways to Minimize Stress and Conflict While Bringing Out the Best in Yourself and Others by Richard Carlson


Carlson shows readers how to interact more peaceably and joyfully with colleagues, clients, and bosses.

Spending forty hours or more a week in an office, along with rush deadlines, heavy workloads, and daily dilemmas, can make working a very stressful experience. Richard Carlson reveals tips that will transform your outlook at the office, easing stress there and also leading to a happier life at home.



  1. Dare to Be Happy.


Allow yourself the luxury of being happy at work. Happy workers are creative, good listeners, and highly motivated.


  1. Become Less Controlling.


Give people the space to be who they really are and respect other people’s differences. By not being controlling, you will receive more admiration and respect.


  1. Eliminate the Rat Race Mentality.


Stop complaining that you are stuck in the rat race. Instead, look into how you are spending your days in a more positive manner.


  1. Don’t Dramatize the Deadlines.


Remember, it causes more stress to complain about how unfair a certain deadline is than to actually work on a task.


  1. Have Some “No Phone” Time at Work.


Excessive phone calls can cause a lot of stress and anxiety. It might be a good idea to turn off your ringer or have your voice mail answer your calls for a specific period of time.


  1. Avoid Corporate Bragging.


Stop yourself from telling others how busy you are and how much work you do. You are, in fact, reinforcing to yourself how stressed out you are.


  1. Make the Best of Those Boring Meetings.


To make meetings more interesting and productive, you should totally immerse yourself in the discussion. It is also a good idea to tell yourself that you’re going to learn something new.


  1. Stop Anticipating Tiredness.


Don’t anticipate how tired you are going to be tomorrow or at the end of the week.

Instead, just try to take advantage of any chance you get to rest or sleep.


  1. Don’t Sweat the Bureaucracy.


The best way to deal with bureaucracy is to maximize your efficiency the best way you can. You can also make suggestions on ways to improve the system.


  1. Remember the Phrase, “Being Dead Is Bad for Business.”


Take care of your personal health. Eat well, exercise, get plenty or rest and take up other healthy habits.


  1. Make the Best of Corporate Travel.


When traveling, be creative on how you spend your time – even when on the plane.

Make the best out of it.


  1. Light a Candle Instead of Cursing the Darkness.


When something goes wrong, take positive steps to solve the problem. Instead of complaining about the situation, try coming up with a solution.


  1. Join My New Club, “TGIT”


“TGIT” stands for “Thank God It’s Today.” Instead of looking forward to your weekends, learn to appreciate each day of the week. This way, you will be happy everyday.


  1. Don’t Sweat the Demanding Boss.


When dealing with a demanding boss, try to focus on his or her positive aspects.

Don’t take the behavior personally.


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  1. Remember to Acknowledge.


Everyone loves to be acknowledged so always find the time to acknowledge others.

A simple note or the act of saying ‘thank you’ can do wonders.


  1. Don’t Keep People Waiting.


Respect other people’s time. Plan ahead and make sure you are on time all the time.


  1. Create a Bridge Between Your Spirituality and Your Work.


Bring the essence of who you are and what you believe into the workplace.


  1. Brighten Up Your Working Environment.


Make sure that your working environment is not bland, boring, or dark. Take the time and spend a little money on making your workplace less depressing.


  1. Take Your Breaks.


Failure to take regular breaks makes you less productive over time. Take a few minutes to clear your head and to get some air.


  1. Don’t Take the 20/80 Rule Personally.


The 20/80 rule states that only 20% of the people do 80% of the work in any workplace. If you are part of that 20%, don’t take it personally if others are not doing their jobs. Remember that people define productivity in different ways.


  1. Make a List of Your Personal Priorities.


Write a list of the personal things that are important to you. After a few weeks, go back to your list and check if you were able to accomplish your personal priorities.


  1. Use Effective Listening as a Stress-Reducing Tool.


A good listener is respected and sought after. Furthermore, effective listening saves you lots of time and eliminates mistakes.


  1. Make Friends with Your Receptionist.


The receptionist in your workplace is a key partner. Be respectful. Show your receptionist kindness, patience, and courtesy.


Remember the Motto, “You Catch More Flies with Honey.” Always be nice. People respond better to kindness than threats.


  1. Avoid the Phrase, “I Have to Go to Work.”


Although the phrase above may indeed be true, it is self-destructive. Try to come up with a more positive message to start your day.


  1. Be Aware of the Potentially Stressful Effects of Your Promises.


Limit the promises you make, especially when they are unnecessary or unimportant.


  1. Examine Your Rituals and Habits (and Be Willing to Change Some of Them). Some of your habits can cause you a great deal of stress. Procrastinating, overeating, not exercising, and excessive drinking are just a few of the habits you should consider changing.


  1. Stay Focused in the Now.


Keep your attention focused on the present. Worrying about the future will only cause you unneeded stress and hinder your productivity.


  1. Be Careful What You Ask For.


Believe it or not, your life might actually be good enough as it is. Think over the things you are wishing for. They might actually happen and cause you even more frustration and grief.


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  1. Absorb the Speed Bumps of Your Day.


When problems pop up, consider there as mere speed bumps that should only slow you down temporarily. Get through the situation and go on your way.


  1. Have a Favorite Business Charity.


Try to give a percentage of your profit to charity. Not only will you feel more satisfaction and be able to make use of tax deductions, it can give you added incentive to do better. Remember, it is always good to help those in need.


  1. Never, Ever Backstab.


When you backstab, not only does it make you look bad, it adds stress and anxiety to your life. Earn the respect and trust of other people by not speaking badly about others.


  1. Accept the Fact That, Every Once in a While, You’re Going to Have a Really Bad Day.

It is best to just accept the fact that there are days when everything will go wrong. Try to look for the silver lining in every bad situation.


  1. Recognize Patterns of Behavior.


Negative patterns often repeat themselves. By looking for patterns of behavior, you will be able to detect problems and nip them at the bud.


  1. Lower Your Expectations.


Setting unrealistic and overly demanding expectations can cause frustration and stress. By slightly lowering your expectations, you can make things easier for you.


  1. Pat Yourself on the Back.


It is not enough that you show appreciation towards other people. You should also give yourself praise and encouragement.



  1. Become Less Self-Absorbed.


Don’t take yourself too seriously. Self-absorbed people are rude, demanding, selfish and arrogant.


  1. Don’t Be Trapped by Golden Handcuffs.


Don’t choose to live very close to the edge of your current means. You are trapping yourself into keeping a job you might hate merely because you need the income.


  1. Get Really Comfortable Using Voice Mail.


Voice mails are an effective way to give your uninterrupted point of view. Use them to your advantage.


  1. Stop Wishing You Were Somewhere Else.


Don’t wish your life away. Accept your reality and make the most out of it. It is better to focus on what you are doing right now than on what you’d rather be doing. You will enjoy your life and work more.


  1. Ask Yourself the Question, “Am I Making the Absolute Best of This Moment?”

Don’t remind yourself how stressed or how busy you are. Instead, ask yourself if you are making the best of the moment. You will become more effective and productive.


  1. Stop Scrambling.


When you move too quickly and force yourself to do three or more things at once, you waste your energy and make more mistakes. Try to work at a slower pace.


  1. Become Aware of Your Wisdom.


Wisdom is as important as analytical thinking at work. Wisdom gives you creativity, ideas, perspective, common sense, and direction. It will also give you a less stressful and easier life.


  1. Realize the Power of Rapport.


Rapport is critical to success. It helps you build good relationships and makes you a better person. By learning how to establish rapport, you are growing professionally and spiritually.


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  1. Recover Quickly.


Someday, you will make mistakes. What is more important is recovering from the mistakes you made.


  1. Encourage Company Stress-Busters.


Suggest changes that can help reduce or eliminate stress in the workplace. Suggestions like company work-out rooms and other employee perks can help build a less stressful and worry-free working environment.


  1. Give Up Your Fear of Speaking to Groups.


Public speaking is vital to your success. The best way to get over this fear is to put yourself in as many situations as possible to speak publicly. Work


  1. Avoid Comments that Are Likely to Lead to Gossip or Unwanted Chatter.


Refrain from using comments that can lead to unnecessary casual conversations. You are wasting your time and energy.


49.See Beyond the Roles.


Remember that there is a real person behind every role. Learn to view people as human beings first and not mere workers. You will treat other people better and in the same way, other people will treat you better as well.


  1. Avoid the Tendency to Put a Cost on Personal Things.


Don’t calculate too much. When you put a price tag on everything you do, you will find it hard to do things you enjoy.


  1. When You Solicit Advice, Consider Taking It.


When seeking counsel, do not dismiss the advice you are given. Listen carefully and if it’s good advice, consider taking it.


  1. Take Advantage of Your Commute.


If you spend a lot of time commuting, make sure you spend the time wisely. Read a book or listen to a great podcast like bestbookbits.


  1. Let Go of Battles that Cannot Be Won.


Fighting battles that can not be won will only give you stress, waste your time, and expend your energy. Learn to differentiate between the battles worth fighting for and the ones that you should let go.


  1. Think of Stress and Frustration as Distractions to Your Success.


You do not need stress to be successful. On the contrary, stress is an obstacle that can inhibit your ability to stay focused and to think clearly. Rather, remind yourself that stressful feelings will not help you.


  1. Accept the Fact that There’s Almost Always Going to Be Someone Mad at You.

You can’t please everyone. Accept this fact of life and you will find peace.


  1. Don’t Let Your Own Thoughts Stress You Out.


Don’t allow your thoughts to overcome you and make you lose sense of reality. It is best not to take some of your thoughts too seriously.


  1. Make Allowances for Incompetence.


Face it. Some people are incompetent. Don’t take it personally and don’t allow this fact to get you down. Don’t allow yourself to lose your cool.


  1. Don’t Be Too Quick to Comment.


Think before you speak. Refrain from giving unnecessary and counterproductive comments.


  1. Let Go of “Personality Clashes.”


Learn to accept that most of the time, you won’t be able to choose the people you work with. You must respect other people’s differences and not allow other people’s personalities to affect you negatively.

’t Sweat the Small Stuff at Work by Richard Carlson


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  1. Don’t Get Stressed by the Predictable.


Learn to deal with predictable stressful situations. Make allowances for the inevitable and you will eliminate a lot of stress.


  1. Stop Procrastinating.


Don’t put off things until the last minute. Start tasks a little earlier.


  1. Confront Gently.


Sooner or later, you will have to confront someone. Do so in a gentle and yet firm way. Assume that you will be able to work things out.


  1. Remember the Three R’s.


Be responsive, receptive, and reasonable.


  1. Get Out of the Grumble Mode.


Get a sense of humor. Once again, you shouldn’t take things too seriously.


  1. Get It Over With.


Don’t save the worst for last. Don’t postpone or procrastinate the inevitable, no matter how unsavory it might be.


  1. Don’t live in an Imagined Future.


Refrain from dwelling on how much better your life would be in the future. Also, do not worry about how terrible it is going to be for you a few days from now. You are giving up the present for events and situations that might not even happen.


  1. Make Someone Else Feel Good.


Remember the old adage: “If you want to feel good about yourself, make someone else feel good.”


  1. Compete from the Heart.


Competition is not a bad thing. You should compete hard and yet be able to enjoy. Compete because you love what you do.


  1. Back Off When You Don’t Know What to Do.


Don’t force the issue. If you don’t have a ready solution to a problem, back off and extend less effort. This way, you will not obstruct your wisdom and more ideas will come.


  1. Admit that It’s Your Choice.


Remember that your career and the problems that come with it are your choice. You are in charge of your own life.


  1. Before Becoming Defensive, Take Note of What Is Being Said.


Before reacting defensively to something someone has said, breathe, relax and genuinely listen. It might not be the personal attack you are seeing it to be.


  1. Complete As Many Tasks as Possible.


Never turn in unfinished work. Make sure that all your projects are 100% completed.

It is best to finish a project before moving in to another.


Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff at Work by Richard Carlson

  1. Spend Ten Minutes a Day Doing Absolutely Nothing.


By spending a few minutes doing nothing every day, you are regaining your perspective and allowing your wisdom and common sense to thrive.


  1. Learn to Delegate.


Focus on the tasks that you are most qualified to do and delegate the rest.


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  1. Strengthen Your Presence.


Be charismatic and magnanimous.  This way, people will be drawn to your energy.

Stop your mind from wandering and choose to really be with the people you are with.


  1. Learn to Say No without Guilt. Give yourself the freedom to say no.


  1. Take Your Next Vacation at Home.


Sometimes, the most relaxing, rejuvenating and energizing vacations are the ones spent at home.


  1. Don’t Let Negative Coworkers Get You Down.


Learn how to deal with negativity. If you don’t, you will end up discouraged, frustrated and depressed yourself.


  1. Make the Best of a “Noncreative” Position.


Make the best of the job you have now. Approach your job in a positive manner and you will find that you will enjoy it more.


  1. Stay Close to Your Center.


When you feel calm and inspired, you are close to your center. Therefore, you’ll be able to get work done more effectively and efficiently.


  1. Forgive Yourself, You’re Human.


Once again, you must face that it is inevitable that you’ll make mistakes. Forgive your flaws and errors. Accept them as an unavoidable fact of life and learn to recover from them.


  1. Put Your Mind in Neutral.


By clearing your mind of focused thinking, you become responsive. Your best work can be accomplished when your mind is in neutral.


  1. Marvel at How Often Things Go Right.


Instead of complaining why things always go wrong, stop and think about those times when everything went right.


  1. Make Peace with Chaos.


Chaos is everywhere. The best way to deal with chaos is to surrender and make peace with it. Instead of trying to control your world, learn to work with chaos without being negatively affected.


  1. Prevent Burnout.


Strive to keep a balanced life. You should also be growth-oriented. Make sure you have a life outside of work.



  1. Experience a Magical Transformation.


Transform your current way of thinking and behavior into a more positive alternative. Review your negative habits and traits and try to conquer them.


  1. Avoid “If Only, Then” Thinking.


Stop wishing that things were different. It is destructive and even worse; you are putting your happiness on hold.


  1. Eliminate the Worry Factor.


When you worry less, you will experience more success. Excessive worrying will only make it difficult for you to focus your efforts.


  1. Ask for What You Want, But Don’t Insist on Getting It.


Do not be afraid to ask for what you want. However, do not be attached to the outcome. Otherwise, you are setting yourself up disappointment.


  1. Remember the Whole Story.


Don’t focus on the negative. In truth, things are not as bad as it seems.


  1. Tap into Your Secret Stress-Buster.


Breathing can help alleviate stress. Remind yourself to take slightly deeper breaths.


  1. Speak to Others with Love and Respect.


It’s not only proper and less stressful to speak to other people in a kind and respectful manner, it is also smart business.


  1. Don’t Go There.


If you feel that a path you’re taking might induce negative feelings, behavior, or situations, don’t go there. Use the same principle when you find yourself asking personal questions and thinking negative thoughts.


  1. Remember to Appreciate the People You Work With.


People need and deserve to be appreciated. If you want to be around people who are happier and more loyal, show them your appreciation.


  1. Don’t Sweat Your Critics.


When faced with critics, use their criticism to add to your growth. Don’t allow yourself to become too affected.


  1. Reduce Your Self-Induced Stress.


Believe it or not, you are personally responsible for a lot of the stress you are feeling. Pay attention to your thoughts and try to dismiss the self-defeating ones.


  1. Become Aware of the Thought Factor.


Your experience of life comes from your own thinking and perception. Choose to respond positively to negative situations.


  1. Ease Off Your Ego.


Choose to shrink the size of your ego. This will take a lot of humility and patience but this will ease a lot of pressure.

’t Sweat the Small Stuff at Work by Richard Carlson


  1. Remember, Small Stuff Happens.


Accept that you will encounter a lot of small stuff within the day. Instead of worrying or panicking, just accept that you will have to deal with them.


  1. Don’t Live for Retirement.


Live for today. Don’t postpone being happy. Every day is important so you might as well be happy right now. If you do so, you will be happy every single day for the rest of your life.




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