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Stay cool under pressure

03 Feb

With tight deadlines, multiple projects, the growing complexities of business, and a myriad of other reasons, stress and pressure can mount quickly. Regardless of your role, there are ample opportunities for stress to creep in—or land with a thud. Yet, it doesn’t have to control your creativity, productivity, and health. In fact, your ability to remain calm directly influences your focus and performance. With that in mind, here are several ways to stay cool when work pressure begins to rise.
 
Prioritize your day
When projects begin to pile up, it’s important to set your priorities and define what’s truly important–for the day and the week. That means you’ll need to create a clear picture of the deliverables and deadlines of every project, plus your role in achieving success for each. Write a to-do list so you can easily keep track of every small detail, which helps you prioritize and make decisions more efficiently. It’s also important to distinguish real emergencies from things that can wait in the interest of maximizing your time.
 
Minimize interruptions
Rarely do you have uninterrupted chunks of time to truly focus, as emails, phone calls, pop-in visits, and other interruptions often occur at a high rate. You might not have control over colleagues emailing or stopping by to chat, but you do have the ability to manage your response. You can give immediate attention to the interruption or relegate it for a later time. For example, if you receive an email that’s not critical, make a plan to allot 15 minutes to respond to it and other emails later in the day. Or if a colleague stops by, find out what information he or she needs and quickly respond. In all, it’s not about eliminating interruptions—it’s about how you handle them when you need to focus.
 
Take control
Oftentimes, stress levels increase when situations are out of your control. Confidence and concentration can waver during these times, affecting productivity. A good solution is to identify the situations you can control and those you cannot. Then focus on performing the tasks you can control as best as you can. It’s also important to realize that some situations are out of your hands, such as a surprise new request due at the end of the day or a supervisor having to reschedule a meeting. Even in these moments, look for opportunities to be more proactive rather than reactive.
 
Eat, drink, and sleep well
When busy weeks arise, there are many personal actions you can take to improve your well-being. This includes what you eat and drink, plus how much sleep you get. Consuming too much coffee or caffeine can increase anxiety levels, whereas drinking enough water can help keep you hydrated and functioning at a high level. The same goes for eating, as healthier meals will keep you more energized. And if you’re not getting enough sleep, you might not feel rejuvenated enough to tackle another day. During the busier days and weeks, try to avoid indulging in certain foods or staying up too late in order to give your body the mental and physical benefits it needs. When your sense of well-being is high, your focus will be too.
 
Remember to relax
There are always going to be moments when you feel overwhelmed, frustrated, or tense. During these times, it’s helpful to clear your head with just a few minutes of deep breathing. Slowly take a deep breath and exhale—and do this several times. You should feel calmer after a few minutes. In addition to breathing exercises, you can also take a quick walk outside to clear your head. When super busy, schedule time throughout the day for short walks. Think of these moments as recovery time, when you can let go of stress and rebuild focus. While physical activities can help you relax, so can the mental activity of listening to music. A playlist of favorite songs can help you focus, reduce stress, and improve happiness.
 
Create boundaries
With technology keeping us connected 24 hours a day, you might feel the need to be productive and responsive every minute of the day. But just because you’re busy at work doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your personal time. A big key to handling pressure is creating a boundary between work life and home life. For example, refrain from checking emails once you’re at home and instead let your body and mind get the recovery they need. Creating a clear boundary can help eliminate, or at least reduce, conflict and its accompanying stress.
 
Own the moment
Unfortunately, stress and pressure are practically inevitable. They can last for a few hours or an entire week. In the end, though, it’s less about if pressure will arise and more about how you respond to it. Stay organized, remember to treat your body and mind right, and know when to turn off work completely—and soon you’ll feel more comfortable with each new challenge.

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Posted by on February 3, 2015 in Job, Stress management

 

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