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How to Alleviate Pressure by Making It Work for You

How to Alleviate Pressure by Making It Work for You

Stress kills.

Stress has been indicated as a key factor in heart disease, stroke, and cancer. It breaks up relationships and ruins careers, and ultimately, it seems that the only thing you need to know about stress is this: get away from it.

A lot of people think that stress and pressure are the same thing, so when they feel pressure, they try to do the same thing as when they feel stress: just get away. The thing is, stress and pressure are not the same, and they don’t affect you the same way. How can you tell them apart? It’s simple: if the feeling goes away as you remove yourself from the situation causing it, it was stress. If, as you try to move away, the feeling hunts you down, chases after you, and even gets worse, it’s pressure.

By that measure, pressure sounds far nastier than stress, but pressure can actually be a useful, good sensation. Pressure is a messenger: it’s trying to help you, and has vital information that you can use. Stress is just mean—it just causes pain with no real purpose behind it.

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I Always Loved My Dentist Until…

Dentists get a bad rap: everybody seems to associate them with drills and needles, but I liked my dentist  when I was a kid. Dr. Bauer was friendly and kind and he had an amazingly gentle touch. And, to a boy, the dentist’s office was full of some really cool contraptions. Oooh, and they had Highlights magazine in the waiting room. Yup, it was just a place for adventure.

Of course, I had pretty much only been there to have my teeth cleaned. One day, my best buddy John came around looking all sad, and was in a fair amount of pain too. “What happened to you?” I asked my sad friend.“Oh, I just got back from the dentist. I had to have a tooth pulled.” Hmm, I had all my teeth, so I had no perspective on this. “So how’d it go?” I inquired. “Well, he practically crawled up on my chest to pull that thing.” That didn’t sound good. “But he used anesthetic, right?” I asked hopefully. “Well sure, but it’s not like it helped.” What? Anesthetic didn’t help? This was starting to sound ugly.

“He whipped out these big pair of chromed pliers and started yanking. Then he said to me, ‘John, what you are feeling is not pain (grunt), it’s pressure.’ Let me tell you something, it sure felt like pain to me.”

Of course it did. For what might have seemed like good reasons, John associated that pressure with pain and so pain is what he got.

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I Only Make Associations Because They Are Associated

In that moment, John wasn’t too open to the idea that the association he made between pressure and pain was completely of his own choosing: he went into the experience expecting pain, and so, whatever he felt, it was going to be linked to pain. The good dentist even attempted to decouple the two for him but he would have none of it.

What do you associate with pressure? Pain? Defeat? Depression? Anger? Restriction? I am guessing that your list will look something like that one, with each association more negative than the last. So, let me whisper a little secret in your ear: Cut it out!

You can make any associations you like so let me make the case for making some positive associations, like: learning opportunity; wake-up call; early warning; and protection.

Pressure Is Communication Without Language

Pressure is a feeling. Since it doesn’t come in words, we might not feel it if it’s elevated to the level of reasoned thought. But feelings are thoughts; merely thoughts that are expressed in your body instead of in your mind.

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So when experiencing pressure, you have to be more like a veterinarian than a doctor. My apologies to all the doctors out there but vets have a harder job—they have to do all the same healing work as you do, but their patients can’t tell them what’s wrong. Any decent vet will probably come to the defense of all their doctor friends right now saying, “Oh but my patients do talk to me, just not in words.” Yup, vets are such nice people.

Listen Up

What really matters is that you listen. Pressure is a feeling that’s trying to help you, but it doesn’t have a vocabulary, so it uses the only means available to it. Granted, those means are generally uncomfortable, but you have to admit that they are effective.  Pressure does get your attention. So now what will you do? Brush it off? Run? Argue it down? Instead, give listening a chance.

Just asking the question, “Why am I feeling this pressure right now?” will likely result in an immediate answer. So ask. Then ask if there is more, and don’t stop until you are clear about what the message is. How do you know when to stop asking? Simple: stop when the pressure subsides.

This would be good enough advice if the only result was that your pressure went away, but it does far more for you than that: it now allows you to wield the pressure as a tool that will help to reap fruitful results. We use tools to accomplish work so why not make pressure work for you rather than cause you suffering?

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Have you listened to your own inner pressure? Tell us about it by commenting below.

Featured photo credit:  Young business woman tormented via Shutterstock

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Published on January 7, 2021

How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

Some people see the trees for the forest, and some see only the forest, meaning they lack strong attention to detail. But even if you’re one of the people who take a macro rather than a micro view, true professionalism requires balancing both.

If focusing on the fine points is not your forte, you will benefit from training yourself to pay attention to details. You will profit by saving yourself time, effort, money, and credibility.

Why Training Yourself in Attention to Details Pays Off

You add value to your organization when you make the effort to ensure that you performed your work thoroughly and effectively. This is why job postings often list “attention to details” among the required skills.

When you present your supervisor or client with well-completed, high-quality work the first time, it maximizes your value and minimizes wasted time. Detail-oriented people are also more adept at catching mistakes that could lead to costly blunders.

Moreover, attention to detail is an indicator of possessing other in-demand employee qualities, such as organization, thoroughness, and focus. In some professions, such as accounting, engineering, medical research, and more, you can only excel if you have trained yourself to pay attention to details.

In other professions, possessing strong attention to detail is the very quality that will get you promoted to a position where you will be asked to consider the big picture.

Finally, if you are the “go-to” details person, everyone else on the team can relax a bit. They know the project is in good hands and will likely throw you more projects as a reward. This will ultimately lead to your advancement.

3 Important Aspects of Becoming More Detail-Oriented

Here are the 3 important things you need to learn if you want to remedy your lack of attention to detail:

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  1. Respect deadlines
  2. Understand the work-flow plan
  3. Build in time to mess up

1. Respect Deadlines

Deadlines lend all projects a finish line. One smart idea is to take the given deadline and work backward from it, calculating when your piece of the project is due. Then, if you stick to the proscribed schedule for completing the mini-projects that you have, you will never miss a deadline.

One important note on this: It is smarter to stick to the deadline and turn in work that merits a “B+” than to blow the deadline with “A” work. Chances are, through revision and suggested changes from others on the team, you can bring up your B+ work to an A later. But if you disregard deadlines, you will lose the respect of your boss and fellow teammates.

2. Understand the Work-Flow Plan

Your team is developing work in conjunction with other teams who have projects and deadlines of their own. When you grasp the whole work-flow plan, you may be able to either add insight to the greater project or to your own smaller piece of it that others at the firm will consider valuable.

3. Build in Time to Mess Up

You can expect that “what can go wrong will go wrong.” Don’t overpromise on deadlines. Something likely will mess up, but when it does if you built in the time to fix it, those around you won’t freak out.

Chances are, you already give your attention to several details. Take heart. You can do this! You can overcome your lack of attention to detail and become more detail-oriented.

For starters, consider this: Most people take the time and put in extra effort into the activities or undertakings that matter to them most. Training yourself to become more detail-oriented can mean adopting a similar pattern of behavior.

Apply the same attention you give to your appearance. Are you a meticulous dresser? Do you pay attention to how you pair patterns and colors, and how you accessorize a particular outfit?

This is the same system to use when you lack attention to detail with your work. Give every item careful consideration so that each one contributes to the perfectly pieced-together whole.

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Assemble the ingredients the way you do when you cook. Cooking and baking from scratch require close attention to details as you measure and add each ingredient in sequence, and you time everything so that the meal comes together at the same time.

Similarly, your work product requires you to gauge whether all the ingredients have been added and that your final product is delivered on time.

Organize your business network like you do your social contacts. If you follow a broad base of friends and acquaintances on social media, you can apply similar skills to stay up-to-date on details associated with business acquaintances.

When you meet somebody who could be influential to your career or a resource for improving your skills, follow that person on social media. Respond to their posts to keep the lines of communication flowing.

12 Tips to Help You if You Lack Attention to Detail

Teaching yourself to take note of important details involves sharpening your perceptions and thinking ahead. The following tips will help you adopt these practices. Master these habits when training yourself to become detail-oriented.

1. Learn to Listen Well

You will pick up relevant information and needed nuance when you apply the skills of active listening. In conversations, train yourself to make eye contact, give your undivided attention to the speaker, and ask pertinent follow-up questions.

Training yourself to pay better attention to details in conversations includes learning to fully concentrate on what others have to say. If you find it hard, there’s no harm in taking notes on what they say.

2. Pay Attention to Social Cues

Make a point of noticing body language and facial expressions that provide insights into how others perceive a situation. Social cues offer details that give you an understanding of how words and actions impact others. The infamous character Michael Scott of the television show “The Office” epitomizes the consequences of not paying attention to others’ body language.[1]

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3. Follow Rules

Rules and protocols usually come about from lessons learned and are put in place to avoid further mishaps—whether from a safety or efficiency standpoint. If you’re given step-by-step procedures to follow, check them off as you go. Also, return to the rules at the project’s end just to make sure you adhered to them all.

4. Take Notes

Note-taking is a way to boost your retention and gives you something to refer back to when you need to keep track of pertinent details. You will also heighten your focus as you listen for relevant information. Review your notes shortly after the meeting or conversation and highlight the content that you intend to apply.

5. Prioritize What Needs Your Attention Now

When you have a full slate of work that demands your attention, take a few moments to sort assignments from most to least urgent. Keep a calendar, spreadsheet, or project planning software up-to-date with schedules and deadlines to help you stay organized.

As you tackle each urgent assignment, give it your full attention so no details are missed. Give yourself ample time—especially if you tend to be someone who waits until the last minute—as rushing can make you overlook important details.

6. Have a Detail-Oriented Assistant Check Your Work

If you lack attention to detail, then it makes sense to seek help from someone detail-oriented. If you have this option, take advantage of it. Two sets of eyes are better than one. Just be sure to credit your assistant for their help once the project is completed.

7. Learn the Rules of Writing Well

English is a difficult language, and grammar, punctuation, and spelling can all sabotage you unless you pay attention to detail. When in doubt, look it up. Free to use website services such as Grammarly can help.

8. Proofread Before You Hit Send

Nothing is perfect in its first draft. If you lack attention to detail, then put in the extra effort before submitting things. Before you send off any written work, check carefully not only for misspellings and incomplete sentences but also for improper tone, inappropriate colloquialisms, and inconsistent formatting. When your written communications are error-free, they will have their intended impact.

9. Minimize Distractions

It is impossible to stay focused when colleagues carry on conversations nearby or your mobile notifications ding you throughout the day. Do your best to limit distractions.

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If you are working where there is a lot of noise or side activity, try wearing noise-canceling headphones or seeking out a quiet corner. Disable your notifications when you need to focus, and resolve to only check them after you have completed your assignment.

10. Take Breaks

It may sound counter-intuitive to stop and take a walk, but it’s necessary. Walk away from the screen. Moving from one task to the next across the span of your workday is a recipe for brain fatigue. Give your brain a recess time when you come to a natural stopping place or after you complete one project and before you start the next. These short pauses are necessary for sorting through all the details needed for coming up with successful solutions.

11. Make Time for Reflection

At the end of a workday, take a few minutes to go over the day’s events in your mind. What was said or relayed in conversations? What is the status of the projects you worked on? What else occurred that you should pay attention to? Could there have been any details you might have missed that you should address tomorrow?

12. Keep a Detailed To-Do List

This simple organizational tool is your best ally for getting your work done on time and for paying attention to the details. If you are pressed for time (and who isn’t?), write your list to coordinate with dayparts.

Allot a certain number of hours to complete each task, do it, and then check it off. Nothing feels more rewarding than completing all the tasks on your list. But if you can’t finish them, then carry them over to the following day.

Final Thoughts

Details may seem small, but they can become a lot larger when they are overlooked. If you know you lack attention to detail, commit to training yourself to embrace the many facets that can help you consistently excel in the tasks you set out to accomplish.

When you begin to catch your mistakes in advance or apply the tidbits of information you gathered from paying close attention, you will know that you have trained yourself in the fundamentals of becoming detail-oriented. After that, you should start hearing the phrase “Great job!” more often.

More Tips on Boosting Your Attention to Detail

Featured photo credit: Cristina Gottardi via unsplash.com

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