If you don’t control stress… It will control you
Stress is an important topic for Project Managers. And, then I think about my own biggest Project Management failure… It revolved around stress and a lack of resilience.
‘I need help. My day should have 48 hours. And the stress at work is so high that I cannot think clearly. I am doing too much. I get done half of the tasks and end up exhausted.’
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At least a full, relaxing weekend, with plenty of sleep, time with family or friends, and good quality food.
Your next step, I said, is to re-design your time away from work, to prioritize:
This will start to bring back some emotional and mental reserves. With these, you can properly assess your work situation.
Then, you need to determine whether you are either:
If you are genuinely overloaded, you need to book time with your boss/project director. The solutions to discuss include:
A composite solution, with a little bit of change on each of these, can add up. If you can make a 20% improvement on each of these fronts, you can double your effectiveness, and control your stress.
Without a doubt, it was a melt-down because I was too stressed to get a proper perspective on events. A good night’s sleep and some time to reflect were enough for me, then.
Another few days of late nights, poor food, and zero me-time, and the same trigger could have had a far greater impact.
So, after that event, I made a decision. I spent time studying and learning about stress and resilience. I had to control stress.
It may seem odd to you because you know me as a Project Management expert. But my best selling book is not about Project Management at all. It is Brilliant Stress Management – now in its second edition, as How to Manage Stress.
Do this today: survey your own stress levels. And think about what you do to build mental, physical, and emotional resilience. It may not be a problem today (I hope). But it is never to soon to change your habits to protect you.
And, if it’s stress in your team that worries you, please do take a look at my article, How to Spot and Deal with Stress in Your Team.
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Dr Mike Clayton is one of the most successful and in-demand project management trainers in the UK. He is author of 14 best-selling books, including four about project management. He is also a prolific blogger and contributor to ProjectManager.com and Project, the journal of the Association for Project Management. Between 1990 and 2002, Mike was a successful project manager, leading large project teams and delivering complex projects. In 2016, Mike launched OnlinePMCourses.
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