Understanding Pressure

For most people in business, pressure always mounts towards year-end. There are targets to achieve, deals to close and reorganisations to think about. On top of that there’s Christmas looming and the family to think about!

A key objective in work life balance is to reduce stress and aggravation – not by avoiding stress but by increasing your resilience and ability to handle it.

Considering three different sources of pressure provides some useful insight.

There are Foreground pressures – these are the upfront demands of daily life. Those things that you are conscious of as pressures that need to be dealt with in the short term. Everything from the mass of emails and communications, to urgent customer issues or family emergencies fits into this category.

There are Background pressures – these are the pressures and stresses that lurk in the background. You may only be partly or semi-conscious of these as stress factors, as the mass of foreground demands pushes them into the background. They can include anything from ongoing financial worries, health concerns, unresolved business or relationship issues, or forthcoming organisational change and how it may impact you.

Thirdly there are Environmental stress factors – These include a noisy work environments that give no space to think or concentrate, daily transport hassles, being surrounded by chaos, or suffering too many interruptions.

Its essential to realise that the more background or environmental pressure you are under, the less capacity and resilience you will have to handle the foreground demands. Its well known, to take an obvious example, that people’s performance at work will be affected if they have experienced recent bereavement or divorce.

The converse is also true – the less background or environmental pressure in your life – the more equal you will be to the demands of a busy life.

So the advice for the month is make time to see what you can do to reduce background or environmental pressure.

Some ideas to get you started.

    • Do at least one thing this month that you know you’ve put off doing.
    • Make a decision that you’ve delayed making.
    • Before the end of the year clear your office and inbox of junk.
    • Put some time into a professional or personal relationship that you know needs attention.
    • Get something fixed that’s broken.
    • Be proactive about a forthcoming change and accept that there will be unknowns.
    • If you can do it (yes you can!) decide to never go to sleep on an argument.


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