5 ways you can outperform under work pressure

Susanna Kahr

Pressure at work can come from many sources – whether you have too much work to do, don’t have the right tools and training or simply can’t get the support you need to finish projects, you’ll start to feel that uncomfortable sensation. Even other obligations can increase the pressure to perform at work – competition for a better position, stress from home or family life and even health concerns can contribute to a pressure – filled week at work. Learning how to not only cope, but to thrive when you are under pressure at work can help you harness the nervous energy a tight deadline can bring and ensure you still get the job done.

5 ways to perform (and win) under pressure

Some people just naturally do their best work under pressure. For these individuals, waiting until the deadline or the night before a big assignment is due turns up the pressure, but it also turns up energy levels and focus. For the rest of us, though, the burden to perform under pressure can be an uncomfortable source of stress. Use one or more of these tips to ensure you can not only cope, but outperform your goals, even when you are feeling the heat.

Build in automation

There are some tasks that you do over and over again – that may not require much thought, but require your time and attention. Consider automating these or delegating them to someone else. You can reserve your skills and your best efforts for the part of projects that really matters. If it is a part of a project that “anyone” can do, consider delegating and focusing on the work that needs your specific skill set to shine.

“I think my superiors are getting more used to delegating tasks so I can learn and grow.” – anonymous employer review at Adam Bank Group

Know where you stand

If you know you are a person that loves the last minute deadline, you may actually be naturally triggering that pressure to perform. Delaying work, procrastinating and other attempts to build up pressure until it is intolerable can actually yield good results if you fall into this category. It is important to note though, you only thrive under pressure if the output you create is as good as or superior to the work you normally produce. Even if you feel in control while working under a tough deadline or other pressure, if the result is not high quality, this approach will backfire. If you already know you don’t like close deadlines, then no amount of reading and studying will help you learn to love this approach – make sure you focus early and build in extra time to really get the results you want.

“I have a set amount of work that needs to be done and there are deadlines. I can complete work early or put off for family needs as long as I can get it done at a later time within the deadline.” – anonymous employer review at Assured Direct Mail

Frame the challenge differently

“I can’t believe I got stuck with this huge project” is pretty negative, and not exactly a great starting point. Reframe this into a positive and your entire mood and approach will change: “I can’t believe they trusted me with this big of a deal” is empowering and focuses your energy on performing well and making an impression.

“They have a high level of trust in their employees and support personal growth opportunity.” – anonymous employer review at Project Time and Cost

Tackle the important things first

The early part of the day, when you’ve just arrived and are feeling energetic is the best time to tackle those high impact, important tasks. If you start the day socializing, checking emails and doing other busy work, you are missing the most productive part of the day and packing this quality time with things that don’t need focus. Define the single thing that is most important in your day and if possible tackle this first. Your most important work is what will make you memorable and showcase your accomplishments, so schedule this for the time that you are at peak energy levels and alertness.

“I liked the high energy level of the company and its striving for growth.” – anonymous employer review at Nation’s Healthcare

Break things down into manageable chunks

“Write a report” can be an overwhelming line item on your to-do list, but if you break that report down into “research”, “writing” and “formatting” you’ll be able to focus on smaller pieces. Break each of these components into smaller groups as needed – -if some research can be done online, some needs to be done at a library and still more needs to be in the form of an interview, these should be three different line items you can check off as you go. Having a structure and working on individual components ensures you can truly focus and lets your amazing talent shine.


Creating strategies that will help you cope with pressure and stay healthy and well will allow you to enjoy your work and you life more, and ensure you reach your goals. Incorporate one or more of the above strategies to put pressure to work for you – instead of against you – and you’ll enjoy a happier, healthier workplace.



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