Today's task in the 31 Days to a Less Stressful Life Challenge is to spend some time thinking about situations where you often feel under pressure because you sense you're falling behind and might not make a deadline.
The challenge is to decide on a new strategy for handling this situation in the future so you defuse the stress response that otherwise happens.
One of the common causes of increased stress is that feeling you get when a deadline is approaching, and you're worried that you won't be ready.
Feeling like you might be letting someone down can create a lot of anxiety and worry. You can spare yourself a lot of unnecessary stress by just communicating with other people about the situation you're it.
Learn To Speak Up
Here is a fairly typical scenario.
Imagine you're on your way to an important meeting, and you find yourself stuck in traffic. You're worried about how it’ll look if you're late but the more anxious you become the slow traffic seems to move.
This is such a common experience and one I've been in myself so many times. I used to let it get to me. I'd sit there almost chewing the steering wheel in the car, trying to work out shortcuts and cutting in and out of the line of traffic in a vain attempt to get there quicker.
I now realise however that all of the anxiety I was feeling is self-imposed. There's nothing I can do about the fact the traffic is moving slowly. I can choose to become distressed by it or accept the situation as it is.
Nowadays I find that a quick call to alert people to the fact that I'm running late is all it takes to allow the anxiety to dissolve.
Once you've accepted the situation, you can start to enjoy a moment's relief from the otherwise busyness of the day.
Given how common this experience is, it's little wonder that most people are more than ready to accept that you're unavoidably detained. By giving them a head's up you're also providing them with an opportunity to make the best use of their time too.
The first part of my handling strategy is to recognise what's happening. The second part which is just as important is to tell other people what the problem is so I can manage their expectations.
In the vast majority of situations, people will readily understand and accept your explanation and will be grateful that you've kept them in the loop.
Spend some time thinking about the last time you felt that feeling of dread, knowing that you were falling behind on a piece of work which he knew was important. What would you do differently next time?
If you can identify an area of your work or home-life where you regularly find yourself in this situation, think through what a new handling strategy or approach would look like. In this frequently occurring situation, who would you need to talk to share the fact that you’re struggling to meet the deadline?
Work out what you would say to this person so that the next time it happens, you know who to talk to and what to say.
Start The Conversation
Why not share what your most common problem is by making a comment and say what you're going to do differently the next time it happens?