Friday, 27 March 2015

Tips on handling stress and worry

As a Project Manager you are likely to be under stress at times and may suffer from worry which isn't good for health or job performance. In this post I offer a few personal thoughts and tips how you may better handle such things.

Project Management Stress

Be where you are

This bit of advice was given to me many years ago and I always remember the strap line. Basically it is saying when you are in work, focus on the work situation and put other things outside work to one side. Similarly, it is important to have a break and when you are away from work try and switch off and don't think about the project situation. I know this is sometimes easier said than done but distract yourself with other interests. I personally find sports exercise is good to help in this regard.

Also make sure you look after your health and rest appropriately outside work; if you are tired at work this will only make stress management more difficult.

Don't worry about things you can't control

It is obvious but some people worry about things that they have no control over and it has no value at all so recognise the situation and stop!

Analyse and Act to overcome worry about things you can control

Firstly, if you have some control, do things in order of importance - don't do the easy thing and leave the difficult (and more important) thing to fester in the back of your mind

Then analyse the situation (with your team if necessary), define the problem with as many facts as possible and devise possible solutions then ACT! As a Project Manager you have a whole range of tools at your disposal which can be used in different circumstances.

A laugh a day keeps the stress away!

Those that have worked with me know that I like a bit of humour and the odd personal wind-up. This has multiple benefits. Mentally it helps me relax and helps keep a sense of proportion on the project situation. It also helps team bonding in my view, although the odd person may not like and so you need to adjust accordingly.

Don't react the wrong way in stressful situations

Always try and remain calm and controlled when in a stressful situation; just because others may be ranting you don't need to. I make a big effort on this point and try to just calmly lay out the points of the "discussion". There is little to be gained in the long term by a heated argument.

Similarly, don't try and get even with stakeholders that have criticised you, it may seem tempting but has little value. In a lot of cases you can view an unjust criticism as a disguised compliment ;-)

Serenity Prayer

Consider this short prayer authored by Reinhold Niebuhr:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.


Analyse your own performance in stressful situations and work out what to do better next time - you are human and won't always get it right.


Thanks for the wonderful tips. The prayer was beautiful and the tip to not worry about things one can't control is very wise!

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