Soft Skill: Working Well Under Pressure
"How do you work under pressure?" We're all familiar with this question, usually the second or third one asked in a typical job interview. It's inescapable--there will be days (and nights, and probably weekends) when your job is stressful or demanding; this doesn't even take into the consideration the myriad ways in which it may be harming you physically. But you're going to have to deal with it one way or another, whether that's by de-stressing via dog or going nutso-ballistic and heaving your desk chair out the window. Although we personally don't advise the latter.
Whatever the case, AOL Jobs is here to help with the best advice from around the web on managing pressure. Give it a look, but don't dawdle--you're on a deadline!
Grace under fire
Be a planner
It's good to know what's on the horizon, whether it's a meeting with an important client or a project deadline that could require long hours. Make calendars, outlines, abstract sculptures--whatever you need to help you plan ahead. That way, when a stressful situation arises, you'll be ready for it.
Big meeting? Don't freak
Even if you're working in the midst of utter chaos--computer meltdowns, missed flights, employees suffering from ebola virus--when you have an important meeting (like a client pitch) you need to come in with a confident stride and a smile on your face. Carrot Creative CEO Mike Germano tells it like it is in this AOL Jobs exclusive video.
Incubation is not procrastination
Some people work best when the heat is on. If you're someone who only kicks into high gear when a project is in the home stretch, but still delivers excellent results, you may be an Incubator. This isn't the same as being a procrastinator; you simply need time to let your ideas cook, and a good level of pressure to execute them successfully.
Find your inner calm
But what if you're not an Incubator? What if pressure freaks you out, and sends you running straight to the world of mobile games and YouTube videos? If that's the case, you might be someone like entrepreneur Phil McKenzie, who works best in a state of calm. McKenzie explains how being supremely organized can help you find calm in stressful moments--so if you're going to sit around watching videos, make sure you watch this one.
> Find a job as a senior accountant
Greet stress like a friend
No, not like, "Hey, stress. How's it going? Let's hang out." We're primed to think of stress as a negative influence, with various studies attesting to its adverse health effects. But did you ever consider that it might all be in your head? If you think of stress not as something to be avoided, but a physical state in which you're capable of more than you'd be normally able, you're actually less likely to experience the negative physical impact with which stress is so commonly associated.
Manage your time
Are you a morning person, or do you hit your peak sometime between lunch and your third coffee break? Know how you work, and structure your day so you're doing your most important projects when your brain is in prime functioning condition.
Give yourself soft deadlines--but not too soft
There are two kinds of deadlines: "hard" deadlines (the kind where, if you don't meet them, you're screwed), and "soft" ones, which are self-imposed to help you chip away at larger projects. They're a great motivator, but it's easy to let them slide. Your best bet is to think of them as hard deadlines, or hard-soft deadlines--whatever will encourage you to follow through.
If you're overworked, speak up
It's only Wednesday, and you already feel like you're about to keel over from the all-nighters you've been pulling all week. That the situation is untenable might be obvious to you. Can't everyone see the bags under your eyes, which are rapidly approaching the size of actual bags? But it's entirely possible that your superiors have no idea about your superhuman workload. Find a time to speak with them, and explain why the workload has become unmanageable. But be prepared to offer a few alternatives.
> Find a job as a shipping and receiving specialist
Still stressed? Ease the pain with our look at the ten most stressful jobs of 2014.
Photo source: Getty Images
Check out more quotes on working under pressure here.