How to beat pressure
It’s a wonderful thing to live in an age where innovation hurls forward at breakneck speed, fuelled by unbridled capitalism – but unless you learn how to handle the accompanying pressure, you may well implode. Here are a few tips on how to cope.
Build to scale
If you’ve ever worked in an industry where supply and demand are unpredictable factors, you’ll quickly have learned a few lessons about planning for a dynamic environment. One of the most important of these lessons is to build to scale, as there’s no telling when you might need the extra capacity.
So, too, with yourself. You never know when you’ll get asked to take on an extra project at work. Or something needs to be fixed around the house – surprisingly and immediately. Perhaps the kids suddenly want to join up for band practice. Or rugby. Or, may the force be with you, you’re having a very surprise addition to the family.
At such times, it’s paramount to have some sort of organizational system in place that easily lets you find out two things: what your workload is, and whether or not you can accomodate more in the shorter or longer term.
Perhaps it would be more appropriate to coin this as building to the appropriate scale, but the sentiment holds true nonetheless: don’t overload the system. If a higher priority enters your world, you’re going to have to kick something else to the curb. The alternative is… unpleasant, as anyone who’s attempted maintaining an excessive workload over time will attest to – yours truly included.
Where’s the pressure valve?
Building for scale is all good and well, yet stress multiplied by time has a tendency to lead to something called material fatigue. An example would be a suspension bridge which appears to be just hunky dory, up to the point where you start x-raying it and reveal the telltale signs of everything being on the verge of literally busting apart in the seams.
That’s when you call in the experts: friends, family, your mirror and perhaps a doctor or two – in that order. You see, just as with material fatigue, it’s easier to spot by someone who sees right through you (my apologies, but your mother has any medical professional severely trumped for this excercise). Additionally, just as with an x-ray, it’s a bit of a bugger to try and take one from the inside out.
More to the point, the people closest to you will not only be the ones with the greatest motivation to help you; they’re also the ones who will give it to you straight – provided you let them. Allow yourself to let them take a load off for you, and you’ll find yourself thankful that you did.
Oh, and you’ll do yourself a favour by not falling for the work hard, play hard mentality. The word ‘hard’ is key here; under such circumstances, nothing gets better by doing anything harder.
Just say no
And of course, you need to be comfortable with saying no.