Chicago — There aren’t that many things that can make you question your place in your line of work than a deadline. Under the pressure of a project that needs to be turned in or an article that still needs to be written, it’s easy to doubt your ability to perform and to forget all the times you’ve successfully completed the task at hand.
Here are some ways I try to quell my internal self-talk with a deadline around the corner.
Remind yourself: ‘You’ve done this before’
If you're like me, deadlines are commonplace in your work. But despite always having to turn an article in by a certain time, I always get anxious about whether I’ll be able to perform my best in the time I’ve been given to write. I think that’s because anxiety gives you a short-term memory and it has a way of belittling your past success. That’s why I like to go back to some of my past work to help remember the challenges I faced at those times and how I overcame them. Oftentimes, this exercise gives me the courage I need to sit back in front of my laptop with renewed energy.
Break down the project into small tasks
One of the obstacles to working on a project, no matter the size, is that it can seem like there are too many steps that need to be completed before you’ll finally be finished. Time and time again, this challenge leads me to procrastination. But one of the things that helps me is to break down a large task into a smaller series of tasks. At the top of a google or word document, I write the topic of something I’m working on and below it, I list all the things I’ll need to do in order to complete it. For example, It’s easier to think about writing a paragraph than writing a full page. Try taking your project a step at a time so it won’t seem as overwhelming.
Take a break
Sometimes, walking away from your work is one of the best things you can do to clear your head. For me, physical activities like running and basketball during my break helps rejuvenate both my focus and my confidence.
According to Michigan State University, not taking enough breaks can lead to burnout.
Here are some of the benefits associated with breaks that MSU points to:
- Increases productivity
- Improves mental health and well-being
- Employees feel more valued by their organization and supervisor if they promote taking breaks
- Increases job satisfaction
- Restores focus and attention, especially for long term goals
- Can prevent decision fatigue
- Increases creativity
- Promotes healthy habits
- Movement breaks are helpful for emotional and physical health
- “Rest” helps consolidate memories and improves learning