EXPRESSIONS Opinion

How to Deal with Pressure and Deadlines at Work

Time is an expensive commodity when there is a lot to be done. Pressure mounts when there is a mountain of tasks but little time. It is not everyone who works well under pressure and deadlines.

Pressure and deadlines can be a setback when not utilised properly; When managed well, however, they can be a motivation to achieve set targets.

Have you thought of what the consequences would be in an organisation where there are targets and deadlines? Imagine you found yourself in a place that allowed you to work at your own pace, without pressure, and to finish whenever you liked and still received a paycheck. What do you think the end result would be? Would this company be able to survive? What gets measured, gets done! Every job has pressure and deadlines that come with it, else things would never get done.

There is a difference between stress and pressure but we often use these words interchangeably. Stress is when one’s ability is overwhelmed by the demands of the environment while pressure, on the other hand, is being challenged to meet significant demands that are at stake if one does not deliver.

Have you thought of why most interviewers ask the question, ‘’How well do you work under pressure?’’ This question is asked to be sure whether you can prove your ability to handle responsibilities and deadline pressure very well and to make sure you understand that if you take the job there is going to be pressure to deal with.

At interviews, when candidates are asked the question about handling pressure and meeting deadlines, often they give a straight yes answer which is not what the interviewers expect. Most candidates claim they can handle pressure very well but fail to cite examples where they encountered pressure at the workplace and how they dealt with it. In answering the question about pressure and meeting deadlines, provide answers that tell the company about your confidence in what you do.

You can answer by saying;

  • “Yes, I can. I have had various experiences where I was faced with stressful situations that required me to work under pressure daily and have since learned to manage stress. Now it has become a part of the job that I do well.”
  • “Yes, I enjoy working under pressure, though I believe proper planning and good time management will greatly reduce any alarming deadlines.”
  • “Yes, I work well under pressure. But I believe that by simply reacting to a situation, you are creating the pressure. Instead of reacting to a problem, I will review the facts at a heightened pace and respond to the situation with a solution all while keeping a clear head.”

~Dr. Joyce Brothers advises,

‘’No matter how much pressure you feel at work, if you could find ways to relax for at least five minutes every hour, you would be more productive.

It is very normal to feel nervous and anxious but how you think about it and react to it are totally up to you. It is important to take a break and relax when you encounter deadline pressures on the job.

One would ask, ‘’how can I relax with all this pressure and deadlines I must meet?’’ The answer is to enjoy the pressure by building a positive mental attitude. Instead of dwelling on the million reasons why you cannot deliver under pressure or meet the deadlines set by your boss (who is probably under more pressure) or circumstances, see it as an opportunity to show what you are made of and come out victorious. Focus on the strategies to get to your targets and not the pressure. Develop a personal resilience.

You can also do the following to help you calm down and focus on your tasks when under pressure;

  • Look out for stressors and write them down.
  • Make a list of your tasks and prioritise them.
  • Seek support when you cannot do everything.
  • Stretch out or find an exercise that helps you to relax.
  • Get to work early.
  • Be aware of your emotions and body language when under pressure.
  • Eat healthy foods. Cut down on caffeine intake to enable you to stay up and get the job done.
  • Listen to relaxing and soothing music.
  • Enjoy aromatherapy
  • Look at a loved one’s photo.
  • Meditate on the efforts that lead to your previous achievements.
  • Try to reminisce on good times and laugh.

It is easy to blossom when everything is going well, but it is how you respond to pressure and work deadlines that set you apart from the others.

At KUSI Consulting, we offer Human Resource Management Solutions, Salary Surveys, HR Procedure and Policy Implementation, Employer/Employee Relations Management, HR Consulting, Coaching and Counselling.


Article by Francisca Baafi, HR Assistant at KUSI Consulting

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