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Last Updated on December 18, 2020

How to Work Under Pressure so You Won’t Burn Yourself Out

How to Work Under Pressure so You Won’t Burn Yourself Out
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The stress to perform above and beyond at work can have unwanted effects if not managed efficiently—especially when working in a high-pressure environment.

One of these effects is called burnout. Burnout can make you feel overwhelmed, exhausted, frustrated, unmotivated, and just plain done with your position. (Here’re more early signs of a burnout!)

Feeling burnt out at the office is the exact opposite of feeling happy and fulfilled in your work, and can lead to a huge dip in overall life satisfaction.

As such, we want to ensure you have the tools to work well under pressure, so you can avoid burnout and stay motivated from nine to five. Here’s how to work under pressure so you won’t burn yourself out:

1. Learn how to recharge

In many industries, it’s not uncommon for workers to experience long hours or to find themselves working during their time off. Focusing on work for more than 50 hours a week is a fast-track to burnout, but the good news is, it can be prevented.

To stop burnout in its tracks, the key is to learn how to recharge.

Often, when we devote so much of our time to maximizing our productive output, we try and find ways to squeeze in extra productivity wherever we can. This could be (you guessed it) more work, chores around the house, working on side businesses, you name it.

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In order to prevent ourselves from becoming burnt out, it’s important to relax during your downtime in order to fully recharge whenever possible. If you’re like me and have a tough time letting yourself “do nothing” but relax, it may be time to try meditation or proven relaxation techniques to get your mind and body into the zone of total relaxation.

2. Utilize workplace perks

Does your employer offer unique benefits such as a gym membership, yoga classes, or company-sponsored outings? How about common offerings like a health club or book club?

Partaking in your workplace’s special benefits and events can help you de-stress from work and provide an opportunity to get to know co-workers outside of a work setting.

Participating in workplace events while focusing on your health can have a fantastic effect when preventing burnout. This route will help you take care of yourself and find some time to unwind and enjoy your time—two things that should take high priority when preventing burnout.

3. Be a team player

A major contributor to burnout is a sneaky one: the pressure to do everything on your own.

If you prefer to do all of your tasks alone without an ounce of help, you definitely aren’t alone. However, you’re probably at an increased risk for burnout if you let the pattern continue.

There’s no shame in asking for help from your coworkers or management team. In fact, colleagues who often work together are more likely to reduce stress at work and lower their chances at burnout.[1] Asking your management and support staff for assistance can also reduce stress, as you gain the opportunity to get on the same page as your boss regarding expectations and workload, as well as the chance to get to know them better.

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When you have a strong team and support system, you’ll open yourself up to more resources when it comes to reducing stress while meeting goals at work.

3. Get your priorities straight

When it comes to performing under pressure, my favorite tip is prioritization.

Prioritizing all the tasks and goals you need to accomplish at work can set you on a clear path to achieving them while cutting out overwhelming clutter and less important items from your schedule.

Check out this Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life.

When you narrow your focus point, you allow yourself to see exactly what needs to get done and the bulk of your time becomes devoted to accomplishing those set goals. So, not only will you be effectively managing your tasks and time, but you’ll be preventing burnout head-on by reducing the stress from becoming overwhelmed by unnecessary or secondary tasks on the job.

Bonus: the feeling of accomplishment you get from tackling your most important tasks can help keep you motivated and even raise your overall job satisfaction![2]

4. Ban procrastination

While prioritizing can be a surefire way to perform well under pressure while simultaneously preventing burnout, this plan of attack only works if you actually do it.

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As we’ve mentioned earlier, a cause (and subsequent symptom) of burnout is the feeling of being overwhelmed and exhausted at work.

The best way to feel overwhelmed in the office is to let tasks, especially the big ones, pile up until you’re faced with a mountain of work with an impossible deadline. So, the solution is easy: you have to ban procrastination from your workplace habits.

By forgoing procrastination and focusing on prioritization instead, you’ll already have the tools and plan of attack to perform well under pressure while preventing burnout from interrupting your life. The best part of banning procrastination is that this habit can also follow you into your life outside of work, allowing you to be more productive and get important things done quickly.

Learn how to stop procrastination here.

This is a huge bonus since you’ll have more time to relax, guilt-free, knowing you’ve taken care of your priorities.

5. Reflect

If you start feeling the signs of early burnout, like feeling mildly cynical, irritated, exhausted, or overwhelmed at work, then you may need to set some time aside for reflection. During this time, it’s a great idea to take a look at your work situation from the big picture to the little details.

Do you have the ability to change the things that stress you out in the workplace? Do you like your role? Do you feel fulfilled? Would a department switch or less work make you feel less overwhelmed? What about working at a brand new company, or a brand new career? Perhaps your main stressor is a difficult coworker or a temporary task?

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Really analyzing your situation can show you if your early burnout is a sign of temporary unease or a sign of worse things to come. But don’t be alarmed—if your analysis makes you realize you’re on the road to full-blown burnout, there is hope yet. You have the ability to begin making changes for the things you can control, and working on accepting the things you can’t.

Even better, catching the signs of burnout early can help you make big decisions like going for a promotion or switching companies (or even careers!) with a clearer head. This is why it’s important to catch early, as once you’ve fully reached burnout, the stress, anxiety, and overwhelming nature of the situation can influence your decisions, and not always for the better.

Key takeaways

The important takeaways from this post are to allow yourself to perform well under pressure by prioritizing and taking care of yourself. This means making the most of your downtime, staying healthy, asking for help, and setting good work habits that can help you manage tasks, time, and stress.

And remember: it’s never too late or too early to do a little (or a lot of) self-reflection when it comes to your work—it could mean the difference between succumbing to early burnout or preventing it and thriving in your position.

Featured photo credit: Kevin Grieve via unsplash.com

Reference

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Kileen Robinson

Kileen helps people live their most productive lives possible, one article at a time.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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