Everyone faces pressure in their daily lives. This pressure manifests itself at work via tight deadlines, emergency briefs, urgent requirements from your reporting manager or any other event that requires you get lots of work done quickly. These situations will obviously cause stress, which may hamper your performance levels. It’s important to know how to channel that stress positively and perform better under pressure.
Knowing how to overcome deadline stress, continuing to work to the best of your ability and thriving in spite of a challenging situation will help you professionally and personally.
Here are 7 secrets to performing better under pressure
Know that stress is okay. When facing a high pressure situation, don’t get discouraged if you feel stressed. In fact, stress is perfectly normal and it’s a sign that your body and mind are responding properly to the situation. The stress you are facing is temporary and will go away, you need to try and channelise it in an appropriate way to perform under pressure. Trying simple stress relief exercises can help reduce stress instantly as well!
Prioritise your work. When you’re working against the clock to meet a deadline, try and prioritise your work. Use the Eisenhower decision matrix to make your decision. Note down all the work you need to complete and bifurcate it via:
- Urgent and important – do them yourself and do it now
- Important but not urgent – schedule it for later on your calendar
- Urgent but not important – delegate to someone else or focus on it later
- Neither urgent nor important – delete it from your schedule entirely
By using this decision matrix, you can prioritize your work, tackle what’s necessary and be calmer with the knowledge that your workload may be slightly reduced.
Break down the task. When facing a deadline or under severe pressure, it may seem like a mountain to climb. But remember, mountains are there to be climbed. All you need to do is break the task down into smaller bits. Then, you will be able to finish the task a bit faster by completing the smaller bits one by one. It will help you perceive the tasks as multiple small ones rather than a single giant task.
Focus on the task. There is a famous quote, “Focus on the task, not the fear of the task.” You have been given the task because you are capable of completing it. Rather than focusing on the deadline or the fear of failure, focus on what you need to do to complete the task. If it’s a report, start focusing on the data you need. If it’s an assignment, start reading the brief and focus on what needs to be done. This will help you perform better.
Engage your senses. When you’re facing deadline stress and everything seems to overwhelm you, that’s when you’re particularly prone to silly errors. At such a time, it helps to be mindful not only of the thoughts stressing you out, but also how your body and mind are feeling. Take a deep breath and then a few moments to engage your senses. Notice how your body is feeling, if your throat is dry or hands are shaking. The way your heart is beating, the sounds you are hearing in the present moment. By noticing what’s around you, you take a momentary break from stress and are able to fix anything that’s going wrong with a glass of water or a simple breathing exercise.
Reframe your thoughts. During times of high stress and anxiety, reframing your thoughts is a good way of seeing the positive side of things and giving yourself a boost. Use this challenge as an opportunity to grow and develop, rather than something that hampers you. Rather than thinking about the fact that it’s a difficult task and you don’t have enough time, reframe the thought in your head to – This is a chance for me to meet and exceed expectations at work with great performance. This will allow you to meet the challenge head on, channel your stress more positively and effectively to perform better.
Listen to music. Music and songs have the power to alter your mood. There’s music you can listen to motivate yourself, focus better and even relax your mind. All these qualities are useful when you’re trying to overcome a challenging situation. It provides a welcome distraction and gives you the boost you need to prime yourself for the task ahead.
Deadlines will come and go, what matters is your ability to stay on top of things. By keeping these simple tips in mind, you can find the motivation and platform to be successful during challenging times. When facing a deadline or an important event, settling your thoughts or relaxation activities can really help you perform better too! You can even listen to our audios on dealing with deadline stress and setting your thoughts here!