A Day in the Life of Stress: Forward Planning
Work is not the only area of your life that will benefit from good planning skills, there are many times when a little extra thought will reap great rewards.
Whether you are about to give a major presentation, prepare a special dinner for a family get-together or organise an event for work, planning ahead will reduce your stress and make you feel more prepared. Butterflies in the stomach, sweaty palms, a raised heart rate and anxiety are all feelings associated with stress. The first thing you need to do is to stop worrying before negative thoughts get out of control and you get stressed about problems that have not yet occurred.
If you are planning for a specific event, think about the details. For a children’s party you need to consider posting invitations and arranging party bags for the children to take home. Write a party menu and consider if anyone has any allergies, particularly nut allergies, or other food restrictions and try to budget the cost. Make sure you have plenty of helpers too, because coping with excited children can be a handful.
What is Performance Planning?
When considering the benefits of performance planning, you need to ask: “why is performance planning important to me? What will I gain?” there are many times in your life when you will have ‘performed’ without realising it. Getting up in front of a group of people and talking about yourself for five minutes or giving a speech at your friend’s birthday or wedding is a type of performance.
Planning ahead for such events will reduce any underlying stress or fear. When you consider the different outcomes, it brings a sense of security in the knowledge that you are more prepared. Performance-planning is very useful for interviews: research the company you are applying to and think about the questions they might ask so that you can prepare your answers.
Planning your performance
Feel on top of your game with performance planning. This technique will increase your efficiency and provide a buffer when things go wrong.
- There are several ways that performance planning is used. Commonly, it involves evaluating an employee’s progress through a particular period of time, usually a year. This annual appraisal provides an opportunity for employer and employee to discuss what progress has been made, whether that deserves a pay rise or some other reward, and to set targets and goals for the employee’s work performance in the year ahead.
- As an employee, you should make a draft of issues you want to discuss. List your job responsibilities and remember to include any new ones you’ve acquired over the year. Next, list any objectives you have or haven’t reached, and a brief explanation of why you were unable to reach those targets. There may be reasons that your employer was not fully aware of – now is your chance to rectify this. This system of appraisal-feedback ensures that the employee is contributing to the company in a way that is effective.
- The following points will help you to prepare a specific performance plan to deal with any event or occasion, and enable you to troubleshoot any problems or distractions that may arise. It will also help you to focus your mind on the task at hand. Some points may sound obvious, but it is often these smaller details that are overlooked.
An action plan
- Make a list of everything you need to do in order to complete your performance. Make sure you have the correct equipment or tools that are suitable for the task. Once this is completed, take each point in your list and see if you can anticipate any problems with the arrangements. In a separate diary, note how you are feeling as holding onto negative thoughts makes a task even harder than it needs to be.
Prepare for the worst
- What else could go wrong? Identifying potential pitfalls will allow you to make contingency plans. For example, if you are giving a presentation using a slide projector, print out handouts just in case the projector fails. If you have an appointment at another site, leave earlier in case there are delays; you’ll also have left sufficient time to think of an alternative route. Remember, finding ways around any given problem can only be achieved by thinking positively.
- Write a shorthand version of your to-do list so that it is easy to read and refer to. This will help to keep you focussed on current tasks. Sometimes it can be easy to get wrapped up in small details – a checklist will keep your eye on the bigger picture.