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Handling Pressure – top tips for when things heat up


We all have busy days at work. We all have bad days at work. And sometimes the pressure can be a bit too much. We asked participants at our last Managing Multiple Priorities course what they did to handle pressure and stay productive. Here are their top ten tips:

1. Be prepared

Recognising that we all have moments of high pressure, it’s a good idea to learn when those pinch points tend to come along. Try and spot patterns in your work and think about ways you can be proactive, plan ahead, and put systems in place to cope when demand gets high. For example, year end might be a busy one for you. Knowing that in advance, clear your diary, push back on projects and get ahead as much as you can.

2. Get some oxygen

Take a deep breath and count to 10! Simple but effective. It’s hard to think straight when you’re worried or frustrated. Taking a moment to calm down can give you the boost you need to take the next step.

Take a moment

3. Stop and refocus

After taking in some oxygen, with a clear mind, you can reprioritise what is happening. If your day has been hijacked by a new demand or issue, put everything down and think. What is the single most important thing I need to do today? Do that, and don’t worry about the rest.

4. Take a break

Sometimes you need to physically get away from your work to regain your control and zen. Take a few minutes to make a hot drink, or better yet go outside for a little walk. Maybe do some sort of mindfulness activity for 15 minutes. And take lunch breaks. Every. Single. Day. Just a 30 minute break during the middle of the day actually makes you much more productive in the afternoon.

Take a break

5. Learn a magic word

Saying yes to everyone means inevitably you end up letting people down. Instead, learn to say no, not yet, not now, not today. Pushing back and renegotiating the demands placed on you is difficult but will help you in the long run.

6. Take care with the other word

Just like the above tip, saying no to things allows you to say yes to the things that really matter. Don’t let ‘yes’ become your default position. Weigh up the merits of every request, email, call and demand. Consider their relative important and decide on what matters most, to you. Which yes is going to get you the best results.

7. Treat yourself

We all need to feel good. And when things are getting too much it can be comforting to give yourself a little treat. Indulge yourself now and then! But take it easy of course. A little pick me up as a treat can go a long way.

8. Treat your body

Those treats can become a problem however if they become a regular habit. Another way to help yourself is to do something that will support your health in the long run. Find out what works for you: jogging, yoga, swimming, dancing, or kickboxing. Whatever gets you moving, and makes your body feel better. It can give you the strength and energy you need to tackle a high workload.

9. Talk it out

A good healthy moan can go a long way. Find a good ear, someone who will listen without trying to rescue you. Ideally, not someone in the same boat as you – as otherwise you’ll likely just keep rocking each other. And perhaps not your nearest and dearest who will want to help you. The best release can be simply to signal to someone you want to download your thoughts and get them off your chest – without advice.

Using emotional intelligence

10. Ask for help

When these ideas are just not helping, get support. Whether that means talking to your manager about the issues putting you under pressure, your HR team about challenges in your work, or an employee champion who can give you a good steer – do it. Flag it up and get the help you need.

What’s next?

We’ll be looking at these ideas, and others like them, in more depth on our next Managing Multiple Priorities programme. And if you have any top tips we’d love to hear them. Drop me a line at and we’ll add them to the list!

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Yvette Gyles

About Yvette Gyles

Yvette specialises in leadership, personal effectiveness, change and innovation. Before joining =mc, she worked in HR for several years in both the private and charity sector as an HR...