Can We Take the Pressure Out of Deadlines?
Is it possible to have a schedule full of deadlines, meet the deadlines, and actually improve your health and well-being in the process? Yes! The pressure and anxiety associated with deadlines are not features built into time, not 'facts of life' that we have to put up with. It’s how we handle deadlines that determines our stress level. You can actually increase your energy and conﬁdence under a deadline, but only if you know how to work with time, rather than struggle or race against it. If we can learn how to directly transform time pressure, we can realize signiﬁcant gains in both productivity and well-being.
Where's the Pressure Come From? Having researched the causes of deadline pressures since 1988, in 1997 I identified what I believe to be the essential factors involved. The primary factor is not what most of us would guess: our typical way of experiencing time flowing from moment to moment. The ordinary, yet relentless flow of time sets up the trap for deadline pressure. The trap is sprung by a triggering emotion, like fear of damaging one's reputation by not finishing something on time. The emotion intensifies the 'normal' sense of time passing so it usually feels that time's passing more quickly and the deadline is closing in on us. If we can become aware of such emotions, we can easily relieve a lot of the pressure.
But no matter what the particular triggering feeling is, deadline pressure is simply an intense and constricted version of our usual perception of time flowing. Most people don't think it's possible to change the feeling of time's flow. However, we can change it, and anything we do to loosen it up will serve to relieve some of the pressure that is always with us, and actually prevent strong pressures from ever getting established!
After identifying these essential factors, I developed the Taking the Pressure Out of Deadlines workshop to relieve pressure and improve productivity and well-being at the same time. I may still be the only person offering this kind of training to directly transform deadline pressure. Although the principles and methodology of this program have not been widely available, they are the result of twenty years of research, development, and application.
Stephen Randall, Ph.D.
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