Managing yourself creatively

Working under Pressure

With some justification, ours has been termed the Aspirin Age. We work under an assortment of pressures: time, money, the twin specters of failure and criticism, to name a few. Frequently, the sense of pressure builds up in the form of lack of self-confidence.

If you find yourself in a “pressure squeeze” try this program, designed to keep you working at peak performance.

First, identify the pressure. Until you know what you’re fighting, you can’t fight it effectively. It’s the unknown that frightens us. Step one, therefore, is to pinpoint the kind of pressure you’re up against. Is it a deadline? Fear of losing prestige? Doubts as to your ability? What? If necessary, take a few minutes and actually write out a short description of the “enemy”.

Second, find out if it’s real. Test it for authenticity. Is the pressure real or imaginary? Did someone actually name-or imply- it? Does it really exist? Are you sure? (Sometimes, the pressure under which we are working is self-inflicted). Are you perhaps being too severe with yourself, demanding too much? If, upon examination, the pressure turns out to be real, take the next logical step.

This third step is to seek the antidote. Now is the time to ask yourself, “How can this pressure be reduced – or eliminated?” Try every possible answer. If, for example, the pressure is a limited amount of time in which to draw up a report, some possible antidotes might be a) get an extension of time; b) get additional help; c) work two additional hours each night. Depending upon the feasibility of each alternative, you will, in time, eliminate two of the possibilities.

The final, logical step is to apply the antidote. The course of action dictated by the three preliminary steps may not always be easy or even pleasant. But if you follow the formula, you will have the satisfaction of knowing, at this point, that you are doing what must be done; and that you have arrived at the antidote through the use of every man’s ultimate weapon, that is, his intelligence.