When we’re under pressure and stress levels start to rise, our capacity for self-awareness is reduced. People around us can see the visible signs – the furrowed brow and shoulders that are up around our earlobes. This list shows some of the signals we can read ourselves – like looking at our mind ‘in the mirror’. See how many of these resonate with you:
You find yourself drifting off, losing focus on what is in front of you
This has been written about recently, especially when it comes to constant and ever increasing amount of data our brains are trying to process. It’s changing how our minds work, and not in a good way. Smartphones, laptops, iPads, everything at our fingertips with a constant stream of ‘input’ our brains try to sort through. Overload is showing itself as distractibility.
Feeling ‘frenzied’ at work
In his book Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything, James Gleick wrote that “the ‘close door’ button in elevators is often the one with the paint worn off”. We are moving fast, racing to get ‘enough’ done each day. We need to be seen to be able to ‘keep up’ at all costs.
You are procrastinating, finding it hard to start tasks you know you need to do
Many of us find it all too easy to put off tasks we don’t enjoy. This naturally means we bring forward tasks we do enjoy. How do you think our to-do list looks tomorrow if we do all the enjoyable tasks today?
You find yourself making simple, obvious mistakes
There’s a lot of re-work being done. When we are feeling stress, our body switches resources from our Pre-frontal Cortex, (Working Memory) to our Amygdala, (where our fight/flight impulse sits). Adrenalin is released, which is very good for lifting cars off people in an emergency, it’s not at all useful for thinking tasks.
You find you have a reduced ability to think creatively
Creative thinking is a higher-order task. Small amounts of stress or pressure might help us achieve a simple task, (think pyramids, slaves and whips). But, it is completely counter-productive for complex, high-order activities like creative and original thinking.
You feel so overwhelmed by your workload that you ‘freeze’
Research has shown that low levels of stress can help motivate us. But, moderate to high levels of stress take us from degradation of performance right up to choking and panic. Not effective, and not enjoyable.
Always running late to meetings
You might find yourself sitting down at most meetings with ‘sorry’ the first word out of your mouth. Not only do your colleagues not appreciate being kept waiting or repeating the first five minutes of the discussion, it doesn’t help perceptions of you being calm and in control. It doesn’t help how we perceive ourselves either.
If you identify with some or all of the above, take a look through our courses. Using time is a skill, and it’s a skill many of us pick more by accident. In the knowledge age, time is our tool. How we apply our time to the goals, activities and tasks is the key to success, however you define it.