4 Strategies for Excelling Under Pressure
4 Strategies for Excelling Under Pressure
Feeling the pressure of deadlines and workload? This article delves into four proven methods to help take that weight off your shoulders, and get you back to developing.
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Web developers and programmers don’t always get the respect they deserve. People know that it’s a technical job requiring plenty of intelligence, but few realize just how much pressure can be involved in the job. Between pressing deadlines and intensive demands, learning how to excel under pressure is a must if you want to be successful in this industry.
Four Ways to Excel Under Pressure
Everyone is familiar with the symptoms of pressure. There’s that pit in your stomach, the tightening of the neck muscles, clenching of the teeth, and a thousand fragmented thoughts quickly darting in and out of your brain. But why are some people able to thrive under pressure when the vast majority shrivels up and says, Uncle?
It all comes down to how you process pressure and whether you allow it to fatigue you or motivate you. With that being said, the following practical tips should help you better understand what it takes to thrive.
1. Let it All Out
What happens when pressure builds up within a balloon? The balloon gets bigger and bigger until it pops. Well, something similar happens in humans. If you let pressure continually build, you’re eventually going to explode (metaphorically, of course). That’s why psychologists and counselors like to harp on the benefits of “letting it all out.”
So, don't be afraid to let out your emotions when you feel the pressure mounting. Feel like screaming? Go out to your car, shut the door, and scream your head off for a couple of minutes. Need a good cry? Shut the door to your office and let it out. Need to burn off some energy? Get some exercise. The only way to deal with pressure is to let some of it out.
2. Focus on the Task at Hand
Undue pressure is often felt when you focus all of your energy on the outcome instead of the process. While this may seem like a smart strategy, it actually has a negative impact on your approach. Focusing on the outcome, as opposed to the process, causes you to feel the full weight of what you’re doing. Conversely, focusing on the task permits you to take the necessary steps to succeed.
“For a student writing a paper, that means concentrating on doing stellar research — not obsessing about the ultimate grade, what will happen if you don't get it, and whether you should have majored in economics after all,” business expert Rachel Sugar says. For a programmer, that means focusing on writing effective code – not worrying about whether the client will like it each individual element, hire you again, and recommend you to their network.
3. Imagine the Worst Possible Outcome
If the pressure you feel is directly tied to success and failure, there are a couple of things you can do to relieve some of this anxiety. The first step is to think about all of your previous successes and how many achievements and accomplishments you’ve enjoyed in the past. This will give you some perspective and shift your focus away from the unlikelihood of total failure.
The second thing you can do is imagine the worst possible outcome of failure. In other words, what happens if the project is a total bust? Maybe the client berates you and refuses to pay for your time. Or, if you work for a company, perhaps you get fired. While these can seem like terrible things, remember that we’re talking about the worst possible outcome. Not only are they unlikely, but if they do happen, are you really facing the end of the world? Once again, this provides perspective and removes some pressure.
4. Share the Burden
Rarely will you find yourself in a position where you’re the only one who can shoulder the burden. In most instances, you can share some of the burdens to alleviate pressure. This could be as simple as calling up a friend and explaining the predicament you’re in so that you can get some targeted advice. It could also mean outsourcing a portion of the project to someone else so you can focus on the critical tasks at hand.
Calm, Cool, and Collected
In order to be calm, cool, and collected under pressure, you have to be purposeful in how you approach situations. As a developer or programmer, you’re constantly faced with pressing deadlines and very specific client requests. Can you respond to these external factors with poise, grace, and accuracy? If you leverage the aforementioned tips, you should be capable of answering in the affirmative.
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