I want to share something with you I have never told my boss, and don’t often share with anyone in fact – I am not good under pressure. That’s a very definite statement and one I wouldn’t normally advise people use as it tends to become their identity and a self-fulfilling prophecy but I’m making an exception for this.

Wow – what an admission from someone in a highly pressurised job.

I decided to share that little gem with you for a number of reasons. Mainly that the world we work in seems to be getting a lot more stressy every day. People get ‘signed off’ with stress all the time and I for one, hate being under pressure.

I figured that I can’t be alone in that. I’ve interviewed hundreds of people over the course of my career and it seems that people are coached to say thinks like ‘I excel under pressure’ or ‘I like pressure – it drives me to succeed’.


Sorry but I know very few people who actually like being put under pressure.

Actually I’m not sorry. Why should I be? The body is designed to protect us against threats so whilst some pressure can boost performance temporarily, long-term exposure to pressure is not healthy and will lead to burn out.

So what do you do when you have emails coming out of your ears, your phone won’t stop ringing (not just your landline either, no – those super annoying people who ring your landline then, when you don’t answer cos you’re too busy decide its a good idea to ring your mobile too (I do not answer to those people. EVER. FYI)) and the deadlines you thought you had plenty of time to work on are suddenly looming?

Calm the frick down!

Now don’t send me loads of crappy emails telling me that if you knew how to calm down you wouldn’t be reading this post. I know that. Help is coming.

The secret to working well under pressure is this –

Manage your time like a ninja manages chi (the crazy energy they unleash on the bad guys) so (wait for it) you never have to be under pressure.

Disclaimer – this doesn’t work if you have a job that requires you to make life or death decisions. If your responsible for another human’s life make sure you know your stuff and good luck! If you’re not responsible for another human’s life everything will be ok.

I am a list person. I use the reminder function on my iPhone and all the flagging systems available to me in my emails.

The trick is to stay on top of things.

File anything non-essential so you have visibility of what is.

Use reminders with pop ups and set them with a day or two’s grace so you don’t end up reading through a massive list trying to work out what needs to be done today. Wait for the pop up and address it when it pops up.

Dedicate regular times to different tasks. If you have daily tasks you have to do, actually book the time in your calendar as if it’s a meeting so you know you’ll always have time to do it.

Finally, if it does get too much, talk to someone. Whether it’s a colleague or your boss, ask for support before it gets too much. People would much rather preempt disaster than wait until you fall over to realise you had a tonne of stuff to do for them and now it’s overdue.

What do you do to survive in a pressurised environment? Share your words of wisdom below and maybe pick up a few extra!