Feeling Under Pressure

Here I am feeling totally stressed out, time is short, too many things to do, bombarded from every direction and trying to juggle as many balls as I am being given, but the more efficiently I seem to do this the more are thrown at me. It is a time when the person who normally gives support and advice to others is at the point of wondering how much more pressure they can cope with.

This scenario I have just described will sound so familiar to many who read it. This seems to be a frequent experience of modern working life and the result is so often being off work with stress and depression.

As I look back over my working career I am often amazed at the changes in working practice. I remember the days when we had duplicators instead of photocopiers and when the text was typed onto waxed sheets. Yes, this was the time of the typewriter. The PC came later initially as a typing/word processing tool, but then came the Internet, email and the rest. In so many ways there have been such gains in efficiency: I can type this Blog into a PC and give instructions for it to go live almost without thinking. I communicate by email with people across the world; there is the ability to send information and pictures at the press of a button. However, with this increase in speed and technology there is also the raised expectation of immediate attention, the need for a rapid reply, and the pressure of work has increased.

Everyone talks about increased productivity, working smarter and maximising potential time use, yet somewhere in all this technologically controlled work sphere is still the human being who needs to find a balance in the demands placed upon them. Not just a work/home balance which can be hard enough if one's employers expect a greater commitment than they are willing to pay for, but also a workplace balance.

Working under continual pressure which is never ceasing, facing continual demands for action from others, feeling out of control and stretched beyond limits will sooner or later result in the elastic band of our ability to cope being stretched beyond the point of no return and our elasticity level reached.

There is a clear responsibility on ourselves as individuals to recognise when we feel under pressure and to take steps to protect ourselves. There is also a responsibility on employers to recognise the degree to which they push their employees to the limit when in fact, if they are not careful, they may without realising it trigger burnout and the loss of a willing, capable, loyal and enthusiastic member of staff for want of just losing that extra bit of pressure.

It has been seen over the years that productivity does not necessarily increase with increased hours or workload; there are limits to human productivity as we all are human and have our limits. Sometimes in work there is a need for space and a time to think. A time to let the brain cool down.

Jonathan Clark, 25/07/2008
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