Work Efficiently Under Pressure: How-to & Tips

Work Under Pressure
Created by CakeResume

Do you feel like you're constantly under pressure to perform at your best? You're not alone.

63% of American workers reported that they were considering quitting due to stress, with 23% of them describing their workplace stress level as high. And when it comes to work, that much stress can often lead to poor performance.

Being able to handle stressful situations at work is important because it allows you to be more productive, make better decisions, and avoid burnout. By working well under pressure, you take control over your stress instead of letting it control you. This leads to career opportunities, healthier relationships with your co-workers, and a better work-life balance.

In this blog post, we'll discuss how to handle high-pressure situations and work more efficiently under pressure.

What Does Working Under Pressure Mean?

Work is stressful, but where do we draw the line between a healthy amount of stress that leads to motivation and an unhealthy level of stress that causes burnout?

Let's start by defining "working under pressure."  Working under pressure means having to perform under conditions that are challenging or demanding. According to the World Health Organization, "when that pressure becomes excessive or otherwise unmanageable, it leads to stress." 

As the definition suggests, whether a situation is (harmfully) stressful depends on the perception of the individual. Workplace culture, management style, available resources and many other factors may play a role as well.

Here are some common situations that causes stress at work:

  • Pressure of deadlines: You're working on a project and are given a tight deadline.
  • Pressure of office politics: You feel like you're being left out of important decisions or your opinion isn't valued.
  • Pressure resulting from overwork: You're expected to put in long hours, with little time for breaks or vacation.
  • Pressure that comes from conflict: You have disagreements with your co-workers or boss.
  • Pressure due to change: Your company is going through changes, such as a merger or downsizing.
  • Resource-related pressure: You don't have the resources you need to do your job, such as a budget or enough staff.

Some stress at work is inevitable, and that's all the more reason to learn how to work well under pressure.

Why You Should Build the Ability to Work Under Pressure

Developing the ability to perform well under pressure is crucial for individuals in any profession, any age and any stage of their career. There are several reasons why being able to work well under pressure is important.

  • Events at work are often unpredictable.

    No matter how much you plan, there will always be curveballs thrown your way, and that can cause a lot of stress at work, especially if you thrive under certainty.
  • Being able to work under pressure helps develop different skills.

    When pushed to cope with stress at work, you may develop numerous soft skills such as organization skills, time management skills, adaptability, teamwork, and communication skills along the way.
  • The ability to work under pressure is a valuable skill in and of itself.
    Many employers list it as a requirement in their job postings because the prevalence of stress at the workplace is a common problem.

These are just a few reasons why being able to work under pressure is essential. Being stress-resistant or better, being able to still thrive and perform well in stressful situations will be a valuable skill to own.

How to Work Under Pressure: Our Tips

Now that you understand the importance of being able to work well under pressure, let's look at some useful tips on how to get better at working under stress. These tips are universal and can be applied to a wide variety of situations at work.

Remain calm

There are many different ways to deal with stress at work, and one of the most popular methods is mindfulness. Mindfulness is the ability to be fully aware and present at the moment, and it helps you remain calm when working under pressure.

When you're feeling overwhelmed by a stressful situation at work, take a few deep breaths and focus on the present moment. This will help you clear your mind, think and better assess the situation.

If you are not sure how to think under pressure when getting tense, try some simple stretching exercises or take a short walk to get your blood flowing. These activities will help release tension from your body and make it easier to think clearly and remain calm.

Develop a prioritization strategy

A lot of people do not realize that just by setting priorities, they can reduce a great deal of stress at work. This means that the ability to form a prioritization strategy is a key skill to master if you do not know how to meet tight deadlines and work under pressure.

One of the best ways to do this is by using the Eisenhower Matrix, which helps you prioritize tasks based on urgency and importance. Another popular method is the Ivy Lee method, which recommends writing down six things you need to do tomorrow before going to bed, and then starting with the first task on the list the next day.

If you find the most suitable prioritizing strategy for you, you will be able to go from being overwhelmed with a lot of tasks to focusing your energy on the most important ones. You'll be able to get more done with less stress, combating high-pressure situations one task at a time.

Break tasks down

When you have a lot of work to do, it can be helpful to break the tasks down into smaller, more manageable parts. Similar to setting priorities, breaking tasks down will help you stay organized and on track, and prevent you from feeling overwhelmed by the total amount of work that needs to be done.

If you're not sure how, try listing out major milestones for your project, and then write down smaller tasks needed for the milestones. This helps you work better under stress because smaller means more manageable. It's also easier to see your progress as you check tasks off your list.

Focus on the purpose of completing a task

Instead of thinking about "what" stresses you out, try thinking about "why". In other words, focus on the purpose or goal of completing a task. This will help shift your perspective from the difficulties of a task to its significance.

As mentioned above, there could be different causes of stress and pressure. By focusing on the purpose of your work, you will be able to concentrate on motivation, which helps you manage pressure, even if the amount of work, the deadline or the resources given remain the same.

You will be likely to perform well under pressure if you are clear about why you are completing the task.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

This is a common piece of advice, but it's one that is often overlooked. If you're feeling overwhelmed by a project or task, don't be afraid to ask your boss or colleagues for help.

This not only shows that you're willing to admit when you need assistance, but it also allows others to pitch in and help lighten your workload. Sometimes even just a fresh perspective from a different person can go a long way. They may also be able to give you the emotional support you need to stay calm, focused and motivated under stressful situations at work.

Don’t procrastinate

Stress can cause procrastination and procrastination may lead to more stress. If you are a procrastinator, breaking the vicious cycle is key to learning how to work under pressure.

There are a number of ways you can do this, such as setting smaller goals, using a rewards system, or removing distractions from your environment. Find what works best for you and make an effort to stick with it. The goal is to get started on your task as soon as possible so that you can avoid the last-minute rush and resulting stress.

First, do it, and when the pressure of rushing goes away, you will have more time to do it better.

Separate internal and external pressure

Internal pressure is the pressure you put on yourself to do well, while external pressure is the pressure that others put on you. It's important to be able to differentiate between the two so that you can manage them both more effectively at work.

Internal pressure usually comes from a place of wanting to do well or meet our own high standards. This type of pressure can be useful because it drives us to do our best work. However, if not managed properly, it can also lead to excessive stress and anxiety.

External pressure is often beyond our control and can come from a variety of sources in the workplace, such as a boss or client. While we can't always control external pressure, we can control how we respond to it.

Try to be aware of the different types of pressure you're under so that you can manage them in a way that works best for you.

Get enough rest

Although it may seem counterintuitive, taking breaks when you are under high-pressure situations can actually help you work better. When you're feeling stressed, your body is in fight-or-flight mode, which means that your brain isn't functioning at its best.

In order to perform well under pressure, it's important to take breaks and allow your body and mind to rest. This will help you come back feeling refreshed and ready to take on the task at hand. It's also important to make sure that you're getting enough sleep each night. Benefits of a good night's sleep include improved concentration, better emotional states and increased productivity.

So if you're finding yourself struggling to work under pressure, sleep, power naps and coffee breaks may save the day.

Develop a routine

One of the best ways to manage work stress is to develop a routine and stick to it. Having a set routine can help reduce anxiety because it provides a sense of structure and predictability.

When you know what to expect, it's easier to stay calm and focused. Try to establish a regular sleep schedule, create a daily list of tasks, and set aside time each day for relaxation or exercise. Having Netflix Wednesdays, pizza Fridays and screen-free Saturdays works, too - whatever helps you reduce stress.

By following a routine, you can take some of the guesswork out of your day-to-day life and reduce the amount of stress you're feeling. Routines will help you work better under pressure.

🔑 Key Takeaways:

Working under pressure is a common occurrence for many people in the workplace. While it can be difficult, there are ways to manage the stress and get the work done. By following these tips, you can learn how to work under pressure and perform at your best.

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— Originally written by Candy Ho —

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