As research has shown, short-term stress can be a good thing. In fact, it can even motivate you to do some of your best work. This is in part because without the fear of failure, you would not attempt to succeed.
But as we also know not all stress is good. Especially, when it comes to managing hard deadlines. Not being able to minimize this stress can lead to unhappiness in the workplace and wreak havoc on your mental and physical state.
That is why we’re glad you’re here! You’re about to find out some realistic plans to beat stress and stay on top of your game.
Things You Should Do To Minimize Deadline Stress
Have a plan in place. (Also, have a backup plan!)
They say that having a plan is a good strategy which is some cases is true. However, only 37% of teams ‘always or mostly complete projects on time’. If Plan A fails, and it realistically may, always have a backup plan in place. If your deadline is approaching fast and you’re not proceeding at the pace you expected, enlist the help of your colleague. If a co-worker is unexpectedly sick, train another one at the start of the project or do a knowledge transfer session so that someone else can fill in. The important thing is power through, not waste time thinking of dire consequences and come out on top.
Identify your weak spots
How would you rate yourself under pressure? Do you succumb to it or do you stay level headed? Do you procrastinate or do you always manage to get things done?
Doing some introspection into your own traits may help you understand the root cause of your stress and help to eradicate it in the future. For instance, if procrastination is a habit, set a deadline for yourself a week earlier than when the project is due and set multiple reminders to keep track of all the milestones achieved.
Do the hard parts first?
A major reason for procrastination is when you are up against some complicated tasks which require your full attention. A recent study by Microsoft in 2018 showed that the attention span has dropped to 8 seconds which is comparable or worse than that of a goldfish. Knowing that, it is easy to feel like you’re up against a wall when it comes to handling the more difficult tasks. That is why you should get it over with first. Create a path of least resistance in order to get this done. If you are more productive in the mornings, only assign yourself these tasks in the morning and reward yourself for productivity so that your brain can be trained to continue.
Keep yourself accountable
If you find it difficult to stick to the deadlines you’ve created for yourself, it may help to find an accountability partner. You can write up a message for yourself and have this other person share it with you if you don’t meet your deadlines. If you’re a freelancer or working from home, you can even set up automatic emails on Gmail to send to yourself reminding you how important it is to stay on track. Attach a video or a picture as visuals have a far greater impact on the brain.
Keep it real(istic)!
Learn to say no. If you are a pushover, then you may find yourself not only doing your work but also other people’s work or more work than you are capable of handling at a time. This can lead you to scramble when it comes to meeting deadlines and put undue pressure on you.
Know your limits and how much work you can realistically finish when it comes to accepting work. Not only will you maintain the quality of your work, but you will also reduce the overall stress in your life.
Right now, you may be reading this article while also replying to emails and listening to a TED talk on your phone. That’s just the world we live in. But, even if you’re great at multitasking, do not attempt to do that when it comes to meeting deadlines.
‘One thing at a time.’ Remember this simple mantra and create a priority list and allow yourself to truly focus on the task at hand. You can use online management tools or even Post-Its on your desk to remind yourself of everything that needs to be done in a day.
Take a break (or two)
Meeting your daily goals is important. So is taking a moment each day to still your mind. You can use the Pomodoro technique and take a 5-minute break every 25 minutes or schedule a longer lunch after working hard for a couple of hours. It also helps to have a work-life balance so that you can clear your head and focus on other things that release dopamine to your brain to counteract all the cortisol from the stress.
Obviously, there are more than 7 ways to cope with deadline stress. You could take up meditation to help out with overall stress or even try bringing in a consultant to help you plan your project. However, plans aren’t always perfect, and strategies can disintegrate.
This is why these 7 realistic and simple ways take into account how hard it is to formulate a new habit and will retrain your brain so that deadlines aren’t deadly anymore!