Working Under Pressure
For most of us, working under pressure is a normal part of life. As a result, the demands and deadlines of our vocational pursuits can often become quite overwhelming. The reality is that pressure may never go away. If this in fact a possibility, how do you handle or manage this pressure?
Over the years, I’ve used some of the following principles and approaches for working under pressure. My hope is that it may provide some benefit to your life and work.
- Get Started & Don’t Argue – I used to find myself spending too much time arguing with myself about whether or not I could meet the expectations and/or deadlines placed on me. The complexity of the projects set before me used to cause a mental (and sometimes physical) paralysis. I soon realized that this inner battle only wasted time. I decided to just jump in, even without all the information or strategy. I’ve discovered that the key to getting things done starts with a simple act towards a goal. Risky? Possibly. Productive? Most definitely.
- Set Mini-Deadlines/Milestones – Breakdown down large deadlines into smaller, bit-size milestones can really help you move forward. Yes, it’s probably impossible to determine all of your smaller milestones at the beginning of a project, but nonetheless, moving in this direction will significantly give you momentum and hope. Project management software really do help. Taking the time at the beginning to schedule your milestones can save your sanity, time over the long run, and help to formulate a great work-flow/pace.
- Get Off Social Media & Emails When Possible – Although I am a firm believer in the power and usefulness of social media and email, I also recognize that these can be one of the greatest deterrents to getting stuff done. Blocking off a few hours to work on a project without access to these tools will often produce some of your greatest results. If you need to answer emails, set a specific time and work within those parameters. I’ve realized that setting aside specific times for email has actually allowed me to answer more emails because I’ve learned that I work better with smaller segments of time with specific tasks.
- Find Your Work Rhythm – Recognizing when one is most creative or alert can really increase productivity. For example, if you are most focused and productive in the morning, schedule the heaviest creative work during that time. Don’t schedule work that may not best use your personal work rhythm. In other words, mornings in this scenario may not be the best time to answer email or get on a project update meeting.
- Exercise & Eat Well – Countless studies have shown the correlation between physical health and ability to work under pressure. I’m not saying that you have to be a gym rat to be productive. It might be as simply as going for a brisk walk after a meal for 10 minutes to get your blood flowing again. Also, eating well definitely can impact your ability to focus.
Working under pressure is a reality in the 21st century. Nevertheless, you don’t have to be hopelessly oppressed by that reality. What are some of the things you do to work better under pressure?