Thursday, 5 June 2014

Stress “A friend or an enemy? #3”


Mistake #3: Setting Unrealistic Time Frames

We all have deadlines to meet of one type or another.

Setting tight time frames can motivate you to really push yourself to bring out your best.

On the other hand, working to tight time frames can be anxiety producing and draining to the point of making you feel unwell.

Take this one lady, for example, whom I worked with in my Coaching  practice…

At the time she was about 28 years old and was responsible for the safety and wellbeing of several hundred truck drivers - their rest times, their truck loads, their capacity to be safe drivers etc.

She had to manage their shifts, pick-up & delivery times, rest points, as well as trouble shoot if anything went wrong.

For one person, she had a virtually impossible workload and a huge responsibility.

She loved being under pressure because she enjoyed that feeling of adrenaline and being busy which helped her think faster and get more done.

However, she got to the stage where she wasn't getting restful sleep, she would wake in the middle of the night and be throwing up because of the stress. She was experiencing headaches daily and felt tired and irritable all the time.

After a year of enduring this, she came to see me for some help.

I remember that her body was so tense that she couldn't bear to have her shoulders touched. She had buried so much tension into her system that it was now breaking down and she was on the verge of falling apart

There was no bug or virus that had caused all these problems in her -it was an accumulation of many months of ongoing built-up stress and tension. My task was to help restore some balance to her life.

So, instead of focusing solely on repairing her body's health, we discussed her lifestyle and work-style and started to make some changes.

Amongst the coping strategies that we talked about, which included; ways she could unwind at night, getting better food to eat, breathing techniques, etc. (to learn the exact same strategies I taught her,  we also looked at how she could stop living her life as if she was always in a rush by changing her work projects so they were manageable.

Within 3 weeks of working together, her headaches subsided and, although she was still under stress and pressure, she wasn't waking in the night, she was keeping her dinner in her stomach, and she became a much more pleasant person.

The key to her success was to stop putting herself under unrealistic pressure to perform. Instead she set targets and time frames that were realistic without working 16 hours a day.

Stop and look at the stress in your own life that relates to being late, getting work finished, getting all the tasks done by the end of your day.


Are you setting unrealistic expectations and deadlines that put you 'on-the-go' all day everyday?

If so, then realise that at that consistent pace, your body will eventually break down.

Take action while you still have the choice - reduce the amount of deadlines you live under or extend them to be more realistic.

Try these 4 steps:

a. Look at what you have to do in your day and write down the key goals - make sure you include the deadline for each – but make it a realistic deadline.

b. For each goal, write down the list of actions you need in order to reach it. Also, allocate the right time frame that each action will take to complete.

c. Put together a master plan that schedules all the tasks of all the goals.

I. Make a global plan: From start to finish of each goal, schedule into your diary when each step needs to be completed.

II. Make a local plan: A weekly, and daily, plan of what tasks need to be completed.

d. Identify if your goals/targets are, in fact, achievable given the time you have available. If they aren't, then you are setting yourself up for stress and tension, so you will need to either adjust your time frames or reduce your workload to ensure that you are not working yourself too hard to try and accomplish something that is unreachable.


To be continued…

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