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How pressure affects performance


We can’t escape pressure. We all have decisions, deadlines and dilemmas that disturb our daily life. How we handle the pressure is key to surviving these temporary issues. Pressure itself isn’t the issue, but the consequent reactions. Do you panic or plan? Fight or flight? There are different contexts and situations for pressure that lead to certain reactions. Most of them are actually positive and contributory to good performances.


Pressure can be the motivator that we need to persevere through something that bores us or proves too challenging. [10 ways to overcome boredom] When someone in authority that we respect expects something from us, or if we are placed in competition for a reward, the pressure from that acts as currency. There are plaudits to gain. If we are able to thrive off pressure it puts us in good stead. The recognition of such skill and management is impressive and useful for future prospects.


What leads from finding you thrive under pressure is deliberately putting yourself under pressure. Procrastination doesn’t have the best reputation  but rather than be a product of laziness, it can also be a method of incubation. Leaving deadlines until the last minute allows you to free your mind and structure your tasks in order. [The best tools for time management] Doing everything else first means your mind is decluttered of other things that come up so your deadline is your only focus. Whilst some organisations – especially those associated with education – advise against it, and for good reasons, it actually works for a good number of people.


Pressure is sometimes applied when certain resources are restricted or there are certain conditions and setbacks that you can’t control. Being against the odds encourages some people because they take pride in themselves, or are have proven in the past they can work with adversity or change. The flexibility and resilience needed to achieve what seems impossible is highly respected, because it shows what motivates you isn’t just material or quantifiable. It is a spiritual, transcendental type of victory. [How to be confident when facing work challenges]


Another way to apply pressure is to make every part of your journey to success important. [10 Daily habits to help achieve success] Performance in every area combined is what counts, and splitting these areas up and giving them their own requirements and deadlines is a way of giving importance to everything you do. Having the plans and preparation in place is oppositional to the more free-thinking, philosophical approaches to dealing with pressure, but it works all the same. Not everyone is relaxed enough to procrastinate and they use pressure in a different way.


Of course, pressure isn’t always positive. Sometimes it gets too much, and the balance of pressure being exerted on you is important to monitor. The types of pressure that affect performance negatively are the ones which take power away from you; the pressure balance isn’t even. If you’re given too much work to do that is impossible to do in a set time-period, that pressure leads to stress and anxiety, because it’s pressure you can’t control and manage. In these instances, don’t try to thrive off it. Know your limits and explain your problems to people who can help. [What to do when you feel overloaded]

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Next time you’re under pressure, try to identify what factor to your situation is leading you to feel pressured. If it’s one of the above, undertake the right behaviours to use the pressure well. If it isn’t one of the above, the pressure may be self-exerted. Relax and be easy on yourself. All pressure is best handled with a calm mind.


This article was contributed by Pink Moods.

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