How to tame your stress? Looking at the nature of stress from a position of Project Manager
You will find stress management skills in requirements list for most of the managerial positions. Well, that is not a surprise. Managing a project is a complex and quite challenging process that needs a peace of mind that only Buddhist monk can offer, leaving behind fast approaching deadlines, a misunderstanding with clients, tension in a team and upcoming updates. The fact that your company future depends directly on how the project will turn out, makes the stress an integral part of your routine. It is comparable with a dangerous mission in a hot spot, except the only weapon you have is Gantt Chart/except that you (only) have Gantt Chart for the weapon.
Stress is all around us. People are experiencing high level of stress in various situations such as interpersonal conflicts, looking for a parking spot, defending your point of view, introducing yourself to a stranger, etc. Stress could directly impact the performance level of the employee and decrease their productivity. As a result, such destructive stress consequences affect the profitability of the organization.
As pointed out by Karl Albrecht, a management consultant and author of book “Stress and the Manager”, “Stress is a natural part of human functioning, and pressure is a normal aspect of human interaction. We must learn to tell the difference between a reasonable level of stress and too much stress. A zero-stress condition is impossible”.
Stress comes in many flavors, but most of them fall into 4 categories, according to Karl Albrecht.
Let’s start by exploring what causes each of them and how to prevent it.
One of the most common stress types. The cause of it comes from the title — a shortage of time resource. For example, when you are unforgivably late for a meeting or when you bust your ass to finish all the tasks for the sprint in time before the deadline.
Ways to prevent:
- Make the list of upcoming tasks: you can structure your activities with Eisenhower Matrix. This tool helps to create a clear framework and avoid procrastination.
- Set priorities for your work.
- Systemize your time estimation accordingly to your task priorities.
- Learn to say “No” and realize your own capabilities.
Reasons: Excess thoughts concentration in general about the future. Negative thinking about events that are about to happen like “I can’t make it” “It will be a disaster”. For me, this is the most absurd type of stress based solely on our morbid imagination when thinking about future. Undoubtedly, it is important to evaluate your capabilities realistically, but when you understand that you are not prepared for the event try to sort it our rather than saying that all is lost.
Ways to prevent:
- Learn some positive visualization techniques. Fill your mind and soul with positive attitude. Imagine a good outcome and try everything possible to make it so.
- Try to create the detailed scenario and play it in your head. It doesn’t mean writing down canned phone call speech because your partner may not go with the prepared scenario. Things might get a little messed up. Instead, just mentally prepare yourself for risks.
- Prior to the event, practice in front of your family or record your performance and look at yourself.
Reasons: happens in a situation that is beyond your control. Usually, situational stress is connected with a fear of a conflict or a status loss in front of a crowd. Imagine the situation where you are getting fired out or ashamed in front of your colleagues. It mainly affects people, who care too much about the opinion of others and lack personal confidence.
Ways to prevent:
- Forget what people think of you. Chances are they are NOT thinking about you at all.
- Be emotionally intelligent. Nobody is making you angry. It is you who gets mad.
- Take actions to boost your internal confidence.
Reasons: Often occurs in the environment with a lot of personal interactions with clients, specifically if you don’t know what to expect from them.
Ways to prevent:
- develop emotional intelligence. According to American author and psychologist Daniel Goleman, EI is defined as “the ability to identify, assess, and control one’s own emotions, the emotions of others, and that of groups”. Emotions play an integral part in stress management. Therefore, you need to recognize emotions and feelings of yourself and others in the first place to cope with stress and anxiety.
The most popular stress causes are:
- unrealistic deadlines
- conflicts between stakeholders
- changed project priorities
- challenging communication with clients
Everyone has different experiences. It is important to recognize that we all have stress in our lives and have to learn how to manage it. As soon as you find any signs of stress, try to follow our recommendations. We hope that they will help you to find balance and harmony. Remember, there are things you can do nothing about, but planning and estimation will help you to avoid most of the stressful situations.
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