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March Topic: Managing Stress

29 Feb

“Pressure is a privilege.”

I have a Love-Hate relationship with this quote.  On one hand, I completely agree that I am lucky to have pressure in my life that forces me to strive for success.  On the other hand, I don’t always feel privileged when I am feeling pressure.

Evan and I spent a night talking about the difference between pressure and stress and the many ways to react to them.  His philosophy is that we are in complete control of our emotional reaction to stress.  I believe that but I’m just not 100% there yet.

This is typically what happens to me under a stressful situation:  Something completely unpredictable happens at work that needs to be resolved immediately.  I go into “problem solving mode” until I resolve the situation.  Typically I become aware of my “stress attack” only after I feel comfortable that the level of stress is subsiding.

Although I work well under pressure, I feel extremely uncomfortable in a high-stress environment.  I can’t figure out how to feel any control over my reaction because I can never identify a “stress attack” until after it’s over.

This is definitely an area of opportunity for me so I’ve come up with a few ways develop my stress management skills.  I have a feeling that one month won’t be enough for me so I may need to bring this topic back in September when work gets super crazy again.

These are the questions I’m going to explore throughout the next week or so.

  • What are my sources of stress?
  • What is the difference between stress and pressure?
  • What triggers stress for me?
  • How do I outwardly show that I am feeling stress?
  • How does stress affect my life outside of work?
  • How does stress affect my performance?

I’m also going to keep a “stress journal” as described on Stress Management: How to Reduce, Prevent, and Cope with Stress.  I found that website pretty easily by Google Searching “Stress Management.”  Sometimes I find these types of websites to be a little cheesy (example: light scented candles – Let’s be honest, scented candles will not be solving my problem) but I think it’s actually worth reading to pull a few good tips out of it.

Before I can tackle any of this, the first step in this process is to learn as much as I can about myself.

Stress Management: because a pool and margarita aren't always available at the office.

How To – Feel Okay about Redoing a Project

2 Feb

You’ve spent hours on a project and realize that you need to redo it.  How do you find peace and start over?

1.  Get the anger out

It’s completely understandable to feel angry.  You’ve worked hard on something just to find out that it was a waste of time.  Take 15 minutes to feel the anger, vent to a friend, take a walk, feel bad for yourself.  Maybe you’re angry with person who caught the mistake, the system that let you make the mistake, or even yourself for being stupid.  It sucks but at the end of the 15 minute pity party, you need to come to understand that it’s not the end of the world.  After 15 minutes, move on to step 2.

2.  Come to grips with the fact that you need to redo your work

The human reaction is to deny the fact that you need to redo the work and to figure out a way to avoid it.  You can justify why you did it a certain way.  The logic behind your thought process may even made perfect sense.   The problem is, it doesn’t matter.  The work you did was not correct and unless you want to pass along imperfect work, you will need to fix it.

3.  Understand why the work needs to be corrected

Once you realize that fixing your work is inevitable, it is time to understand why it is important to correct your work.  Chances are that the project you were working on is part of a bigger project or process.  It all comes down to this important fact:  Your work should always reflect your best.  If it’s wrong and you know it, you need to fix it.

4.  Beginning again

What steps can you take to begin your project again in a fresh light?  It’s important to make sure that you feel energized to being your project again.   Depending on the size of the project, it might be good to sleep on it.  If you don’t have time, find a way to split up the time between feeling frustrated and starting your project again.  (Hint: I wrote this during that period of time.)