How to perform your best while under pressure

Today was a busy day, I got a briefing on what projects were lined up for the next 2–3 months. Overall it’s going to be challenging.

Personally, as a programmer, I hate it when deadlines are tight. Reason being you get less time to write “good” code and when you rush to write bad code, it will cascade into an endless loop of inefficient code and you better pray the person who eventually inherit that nastiness is not a psycho.

Throughout my career, I've seen that happened many times to me and to my co-workers. Usually it would be brought up during lunch, and I can sense how stressed out and unhappy they became. As a more senior member of the team, I try my best to give out advices to help them cope with that and I would like to share them here:

  1. The first thing you need to know is that it is NOT your fault, most of the time, tight deadlines are due to either upper management’s inability to efficiently manage projects or poor inter-department communications.
  2. Speak to management about pushing back. One of the things I learned over the years is that projects/tasks can be pushed back. If we’re given an unreasonable time on a project, why should we be expected to deliver that on time?
  3. We all have lives outside of work, you have to think about how that might negatively impact your personal relationships, and most importantly, IS IT WORTH IT? Yes you may make some bonus if you complete the projects, but is it worth putting your personal relationships in jeopardy?
  4. Step away from your computer once in a while. Yes you have a tight deadline, but I can tell you now, working continuously for 8 hours is LESS productive than working 6 hours with 2 hours break.
  5. Ask for more resources. You’re in a team, do not hesitate to seek help when you’re stuck. We are all in this boat together, and if you‘re lucky enough to have a team of co-workers who genuinely care about the success of the team, they will be eager to jump in.
  6. Eat healthy. The last thing you need to do is to skip meals. Food will help you re-energize yourself and sustain your operation level.
  7. Listen to relaxing music while you work. Pick songs with no lyrics. Personally I been listening to Chillsteps and they are super awesome when you’re coding.

I hope you find these tips useful. If you have tips of your own, feel free to share.

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